Peter Atkins, MBA ’91

Investing in the Internet and a New Book

Peter Atkins, MBA ’91

When Peter Atkins decided to leave his job as a general manager at Microsoft and launch an investment fund in the midst of the Internet bust, his local newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, speculated he was “a little crazy” and “a little nuts.” It was August 2001, and Atkins had just spent six years helping Microsoft start several successful consumer-oriented websites, including Sidewalk and Expedia — both of which the computer giant later sold.

“My idea was that these Internet businesses would grow and there were attractive investment opportunities for people who were willing to put capital to work at low prices,” Atkins recalls. He was right, and 11 years later, Permian Partners — named after the geologic period that brought the largest mass extinction on Earth — has proven its detractors wrong. The fund now manages about 20 times its original investment and has compounded capital at rates much higher than the market averages.

Last year, Atkins reached a different milestone when he published his first book, Life is Short and So Is This Book: Brief Thoughts on Making the Most of Your Life. Originally published as a 55- page Kindle book, it has already sold thousands of copies and recently ranked among the top ten on Amazon’s best seller list in the Psychology of Creativity and Genius category. In a world of two-income households and little time for reading, Atkins thought a short book would appeal to consumers who wanted a quick summary on how to lead a fulfilling life. The 12 mini-chapters cover finding a career you love, setting goals, creating space in your life, and learning from experience.

“It’s a combination of lessons I’ve learned from my experience and reading,” Atkins explains. One example: “While it may sound simple,” he writes in the book, “if you have close friendships and love your work, the odds are quite high that you’ll be happy most of the time.” Atkins follows his own advice to “do what you love:” He loves his job (“that’s my main passion, and the place I spend most of my time, outside of my family”), and he makes time for other passions including skiing, tennis, and, now, writing too. With his first book now out in paperback, he began to write a second focusing on stories from his life over the winter holidays.