How Phil Knight’s Nike Memoir Inspired My Approach to VC Funding
What ‘Shoe Dog’ taught this venture capitalist about influencer marketing, building a global brand, and IPOs
This is part of the Marker series “Read Like a Boss,” where founders, CEOs, and leaders in business reflect on books that revolutionized their thinking, framed their career, or aided them in a crucial business decision. This week, Nicole Quinn, a partner at the venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners who has invested in brands such as Cameo, Goop, and Zola, reflects on what Nike founder Phil Knight’s memoir Shoe Dog means to her.
I was a competitive sprinter for many years. Even today, I like to lace up my trainers and knock out a quick sprint a few times a week. It’s how I clear my head and maintain equilibrium in the often-frenetic world of Silicon Valley. So it’s probably not surprising that the book that has inspired me in my career more than any other is Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s story of how he started his career selling low-cost running shoes out of the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant and turned it into a $34 billion empire.
I remember reading Shoe Dog for the first time shortly after it was published, under the arches at the Knight Management Center at Stanford, where I had just finished my degree while also working on my own startup. (Of course, that building was named after Phil Knight, who received his MBA from Stanford and had donated $105 million to the university a decade before I arrived.)
Knight was one of the first to discover the power of influencer marketing — most famously Nike’s connection with Michael Jordan in the 1980s.
Shoe Dog resonated with me on several levels — as a runner, as a fellow Stanford grad, and as someone who now works in the tech startup community. Nike’s iconic startup story gave me a valuable perspective that I use each day at Lightspeed Venture Partners.
For example, Knight was one of the first to discover the power of influencer marketing — most famously Nike’s connection with Michael Jordan in the 1980s. The deal was a partnership of equals between an up-and-coming…