Umbrex has developed this list of the best books on venture capital based on input from the management consultants in our community, our clients, and other professionals.
This recommended reading list includes books that discuss the world of venture capital.
This list of books is a work in progress, not a final answer, and we invite you to submit your recommendations on our Contact page.
Spencer E. Ante
Venture capitalists are the handmaidens of innovation. Operating in the background, they provide the fuel needed to get fledgling companies off the ground–and the advice and guidance that helps growing companies survive their adolescence.
In Creative Capital, Spencer Ante tells the compelling story of the enigmatic and quirky man–Georges Doriot–who created the venture capital industry. The author traces the pivotal events in Doriot’s life, including his experience as a decorated brigadier general during World War II; as a maverick professor at Harvard Business School; and as the architect and founder of the first venture capital firm, American Research and Development. It artfully chronicles Doriot’s business philosophy and his stewardship in startups, such as the important role he played in the formation of Digital Equipment Corporation and many other new companies that later grew to be influential and successful.
An award-winning Business Week journalist, Ante gives us a rare look at a man who overturned conventional wisdom by proving that there is big money to be made by investing in small and risky businesses. This vivid portrait of Georges Doriot reveals the rewards that come from relentlessly pursuing what-if possibilities–and offers valuable lessons for business managers and investors alike.Read moreRead less
Randall E. Stross
The first inside account of life within a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, eBoys is the fascinating true story of the six tall men who backed eBay, Webvan, and other billion-dollar start-ups that are transforming the Internet and setting a new pace for the economy.
Randall Stross, author of acclaimed books on Microsoft and Steve Jobs, blends a business historian’s perspective with a journalist’s flair for suspenseful storytelling to look at wealth creation up close. For two years, Stross gained unprecedented access to the venture capitalists at Benchmark, an upstart firm founded by thirtysomething renegades whose average height happens to be 6´5´´. Since Benchmark’s founding in 1995, each partner’s net worth has increased, on average, $100 million annually.
Stross was present as the Benchmark boys debated which businesses to support, and by recounting their conversations in testosterone-rich detail, he offers readers the most precise and enlightening account of the ways in which venture capitalists think, evaluate prospects, and wield influence.
Stross also gained access to a number of the Benchmark-backed start-ups, including a small, privately held San Jose company called eBay. The value of the company grew from $20 million to more than $21 billion within two years of Benchmark’s investment, an increase of 100,000 percent. Business Week called it “probably the best venture capital investment of all time.”
Venture capitalists have become iconic symbols of our time, just as investment bankers, investigative journalists, and hippies defined previous eras. In eBoys, Randall Stross has vividly captured the interplay of ambition, personality, experimentation, and risk, all acted out, larger than life, as the men of Benchmark and the entrepreneurs they back play their remarkable roles in the new world of Internet commerce and the creation of vast, sudden wealth.Read moreRead less
What are venture capitalists saying about your startup behind closed doors? And what can you do to influence that conversation?
If Silicon Valley is the greatest wealth-generating machine in the world, Sand Hill Road is its humming engine. That’s where you’ll find the biggest names in venture capital, including famed VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, where lawyer-turned-entrepreneur-turned-VC Scott Kupor serves as managing partner.
Whether you’re trying to get a new company off the ground or scale an existing business to the next level, you need to understand how VCs think. In Secrets of Sand Hill Road, Kupor explains exactly how VCs decide where and how much to invest, and how entrepreneurs can get the best possible deal and make the most of their relationships with VCs. Kupor explains, for instance:
• Why most VCs typically invest in only one startup in a given business category.
• Why the skill you need most when raising venture capital is the ability to tell a compelling story.
• How to handle a “down round,” when startups have to raise funds at a lower valuation than in the previous round.
• What to do when VCs get too entangled in the day-to-day operations of the business.
• Why you need to build relationships with potential acquirers long before you decide to sell.
Filled with Kupor’s firsthand experiences, insider advice, and practical takeaways, Secrets of Sand Hill Road is the guide every entrepreneur needs to turn their startup into the next unicorn.Read moreRead less
Michael S. Malone
The only contemporary history of the birth of Silicon Valley—from the reporter who had a ringside seat to it allOver the past five decades, the tech industry has grown into one of the most important sectors of the global economy, and Silicon Valley–replete with sprawling office parks, sky-high rents, and countless self-made millionaires–is home to many of its key players. But the origins of Silicon Valley and the tech sector are much humbler. At a time when tech companies’ influence continues to grow, The Big Score chronicles how they began.One of the first reporters on the tech industry beat at the San Jose Mercury-News, Michael S. Malone recounts the feverish efforts of young technologists and entrepreneurs to build something that would change the world–and score them a big payday. Starting with the birth of Hewlett-Packard in the 1930s, Malone illustrates how decades of technological innovation laid the foundation for the meteoric rise of the Valley in the 1970s. Drawing on exclusive, unvarnished interviews, Malone punctuates this history with incisive profiles of tech’s early luminaries–including Nobelist William Shockley and Apple’s Steve Jobs–when they were struggling entrepreneurs working 18-hour days in their garages. And he plunges us into the darker side of the Valley, where espionage, drugs, hellish working conditions, and shocking betrayals shaped the paths for winners and losers in a booming industry.A decades-long story with individual sacrifice, ingenuity, and big money at its core, The Big Score recounts the history of today’s dominant sector through its upstart beginnings.Read moreRead less
From the New York Times bestselling author of More Money Than God comes the astonishingly frank and intimate story of Silicon Valley’s dominant venture-capital firms—and how their strategies and fates have shaped the path of innovation and the global economy
Innovations rarely come from “experts.” Elon Musk was not an “electric car person” before he started Tesla. When it comes to improbable innovations, a legendary tech VC told Sebastian Mallaby, the future cannot be predicted, it can only be discovered. It is the nature of the venture-capital game that most attempts at discovery fail, but a very few succeed at such a scale that they more than make up for everything else. That extreme ratio of success and failure is the power law that drives the VC business, all of Silicon Valley, the wider tech sector, and, by extension, the world.
In The Power Law, Sebastian Mallaby has parlayed unprecedented access to the most celebrated venture capitalists of all time—the key figures at Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, Accel, Benchmark, and Andreessen Horowitz, as well as Chinese partnerships such as Qiming and Capital Today—into a riveting blend of storytelling and analysis that unfurls the history of tech incubation, in the Valley and ultimately worldwide. We learn the unvarnished truth, often for the first time, about some of the most iconic triumphs and infamous disasters in Valley history, from the comedy of errors at the birth of Apple to the avalanche of venture money that fostered hubris at WeWork and Uber.
VCs’ relentless search for grand slams brews an obsession with the ideal of the lone entrepreneur-genius, and companies seen as potential “unicorns” are given intoxicating amounts of power, with sometimes disastrous results. On a more systemic level, the need to make outsized bets on unproven talent reinforces bias, with women and minorities still represented at woefully low levels. This does not just have social justice implications: as Mallaby relates, China’s homegrown VC sector, having learned at the Valley’s feet, is exploding and now has more women VC luminaries than America has ever had. Still, Silicon Valley VC remains the top incubator of business innovation anywhere—it is not where ideas come from so much as where they go to become the products and companies that create the future. By taking us so deeply into the VCs’ game, The Power Law helps us think about our own future through their eyes.Read moreRead less
William H. Draper III
Entrepreneurs drive the future, and the last several decades have been a thrilling ride of astounding, far-reaching innovation. Behind this transformative progress are also the venture capitalists – who are at once the investors, coaches and allies of the entrepreneurs. William H. Draper III knows this story first-hand, because as a venture capitalist, he helped write it. For more than 40 years, Bill Draper has worked with top entrepreneurs in fabled Silicon Valley, where today’s vision is made into tomorrow’s reality. The Startup Game is the first up-close look at how the relationship between venture capitalists and entrepreneurs is critical to enhancing the success of any economy.
From a venture capitalist who saw the potential of Skype, Apollo Computer, Hotmail, OpenTable, and many other companies, come firsthand stories of success. In these pages, Draper explores how to evaluate innovative ideas and the entrepreneurs behind those ideas, and he shares lessons from Yahoo, Zappos, Baidu, Tesla Motors, Activision, Measurex, and more. Also, in revealing his on-the-ground account of how Deng Xiaoping brought China roaring into the modern world and how Manmohan Singh unlocked the creative genius of Indian entrepreneurs, Draper stresses the essential value of farsighted political leadership in creating opportunity.
The author also discusses his efforts to bring best practices of the venture capitalist/entrepreneur partnership to the social sector.
Written in an engaging narrative, and incorporating many of the author’s personal experiences, this book provides a much-needed look at how the world of venture capital and entrepreneurship works.Read moreRead less
VC tells the riveting story of how the venture capital industry arose from America’s longstanding identification with entrepreneurship and risk-taking. Whether the venture is a whaling voyage setting sail from New Bedford or the latest Silicon Valley startup, VC is a state of mind as much as a way of doing business, exemplified by an appetite for seeking extreme financial rewards, a tolerance for failure and experimentation, and a faith in the promise of innovation to generate new wealth.
Tom Nicholas’s authoritative history takes us on a roller coaster of entrepreneurial successes and setbacks. It describes how iconic firms like Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia invested in Genentech and Apple even as it tells the larger story of VC’s birth and evolution, revealing along the way why venture capital is such a quintessentially American institution—one that has proven difficult to recreate elsewhere.Read moreRead less
Peter Thiel & Blake Masters
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.
Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.
Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.Read moreRead less