Patents in the Real World
But looking back, what strikes me is the surprisingly-variable role that patents played in the growth and success of the half-dozen trailblazing startup companies that I helped lead. For these startups, which collectively created more than 2,500 jobs, I raised approximately $1 billion from strategic and venture investors (who ended up with $3 billion in returns). And in the majority of cases, owning patents proved to be crucial to the funding and commercial success of my startup. But this wasn’t always the case. In several startups, patents were almost completely irrelevant to either the financing or the ultimate fate of the company. Understanding why this was so may offer some insights into both the value and the limitations of patenting.