They say there are no gossip-worthy characters in Silicon Valley. Well, here's something you probably never knew about Tom Perkins, the venture capitalist who gave his name to one of Silicon Valley's most iconic partnerships. The investor, backer of companies such as Compaq and boardroom schemer at Hewlett Packard , was once convicted of involuntary manslaughter. In 1996, the yacht-crazed financier was racing off the French coast when he collided with a smaller boat, killing a French doctor on board.In a passage from the Valley veteran's forthcoming memoirs, Perkins writes: "I was arrested and tried in a foreign court in a language you don't understand, by judges indifferent - or worse - to justice, represented by an inappropriate lawyer with the negative outcome preordained." Perkins has done well to get his version out now; his former wife, Danielle Steel, is said by Page Six to be planning a novel based on the episode. The Kleiner Perkins founder, who managed to escape with a $10,000 fine, couldn't have been that traumatized. His latest sailing boat, the $130m Maltese Falcon , is a gigantic clipper capable of capsizing much larger boats than Perkins could manage a decade ago.