- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Crown Business (May 23 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812930959
- ISBN-13: 978-0812930955
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 658 g
- Average Customer Review: 42 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #391,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work Hardcover – May 23 2000
|New from||Used from|
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
If you want to understand the 1990s, you have to understand venture capitalists. These are the people who listen to business pitches by the score, the financial-world equivalent of miners turning over tons of earth in search of precious metal. They're looking for the next Amazon.com, the next Yahoo!, the next eBay. Randall E. Stross, who teaches business history at San José State University, just happened to be there when a firm called Benchmark Capital discovered eBay. eBoys tells the story of how a group of not-quite-middle-aged men came to make an investment that returned a Silicon Valley record of 100,000 percent.
Stross is a gifted storyteller who weaves the personal histories of the Benchmark partners with stories of how the firm came to back such companies as Priceline.com and Webvan. We meet guys who weren't born to privilege, men who took unconventional routes into the venture capital business. Probably the most intriguing is Dave Beirne, a hyperaggressive executive recruiter who went into the business after realizing venture capitalists are the ones who really call the shots at high-tech start-ups. We also see the problems Silicon Valley guys have when they try to dot-com the bricks-and-mortar world. The short tale of an aborted partnership between Benchmark and Toys 'R' Us illustrates why the old economy is so mystified by the new.
Anyone interested in how business works should find something of interest in eBoys. From the organizational structure and corporate culture of Benchmark to the histories and personalities of its partners to its adventures in the world of Internet start-ups, it's a digital snapshot that reveals how successful businesses look, think, and mine gold in today's economy. --Lou Schuler
"Writing with all the drama and speed of the Internet itself, Randall Stross spins a tale of risk-takers and rule-breakers that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This eye-opening firsthand account of the young, gutsy, and mega-rich entrepreneurs who are financing today's hottest Web-based businesses will leave you gasping. It's an insider's look at a very cloistered world--the one at the center of the most talked about revolution in business history."-
-Joël Glenn Brenner, author of The Emperors of Chocolate
"This is the one--the book about Silicon Valley we've all been waiting for. Randall Stross is the first journalist to truly crack the code, to get so far inside this world that what's emerged is not just an authoritative account but one that has the absolute ring of truth. With its vividly drawn characters, unforgettable scenes, and crackling dialogue, eBoys puts you in the room where instant companies--and instant wealth--are created. And when this age finally ends--as it surely will--eBoys will take its place as the definitive account of one of the wildest eras in the history of American capitalism."
--Joseph Nocera, editor-at-large, Fortune
"Randall Stross's eBoys is that rare book that's both an important work and a fun read. The Silicon Valley venture capitalists whom Stross writes about with such verve and grace are the equivalent of the tech world's Hollywood casting directors, holding daily tryouts to spot tomorrow's talent. The miracle of this book is that somehow we're in the room as some of the best known VCs in the Valley audition the future. The result is not only a rich, page-turning tale but a voyeur's dream that for my money is the single best look at the VC world to date."
--Gary Rivlin, author of The Plot to Get Bill Gates
"This book is so realistic that if you have been in a venture capital meeting it will make you sweaty all over again. eBoys is a terrifically written account of venture capitalists in action, financing the investor dreams or nightmares of the future with high-flying e-business companies like Webvan and eBay and more." The book is a great read."
--Jack Covert, president and founder, 800-CEO-READ
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Most people who want to found a new business dream about getting venture capital en route to going public. At least a third of these people who approach venture capital firms do not have any contacts to get them a hearing at venture capital firms. Even those who do will find the odds are long. Perhaps one deal in 100 from connected people will be funded by a particular venture capital firm.
Almost all entrepreneurs I know think that venture capitalists get paid too much, and that they get in the way rather than being a help.
This book will help you draw your own conclusions, as well as give you some ideas about what to look for if you do decide to go for venture capital.
Many will be astonished to see that funded ideas often come with no workable CEO in place. The venture capitalist will often play a key role in doing the recruiting of the CEO and other key personnel.
Also, others will be amazed to find out how important little things are to keeping deals together or tearing them apart -- usually the trust or lack of trust in those involved on all sides.
For years, I have worked with executives whose firms were orginally funded by venture capitalists. I also have friends who are venture capitalists. Everything in the book rang true to me.
The only thing that would have made the book bettter would have been equal access to the thinking of the people in the start-ups. We get their view through the VCs. Because of the relationships involved, that's hard to accomplish because there's a need to stay friendly that is harmful to candor.
Although the book will be invaluable to entrepreneurs, it was not designed for that purpose. It really is more of a business history of one firm over a two year period of time, highlighting some of its most successful (eBay and Webvan) and unsuccessful (a venture with Toys R Us that went nowhere) relationships. You'll have to draw your own lessons along the way. So it's like reading a mystery novel. Keep your eyes open for the clues, and draw your own conclusions.
People thinking about a career in venture capital will also find the book to be valuable. The demands and strains are large, and so are the rewards when it all works. Keep in mind that success in venture capital goes in cycles. My friends tell me that dot com investments have been the most successful class of investing ever for VCs. Some firms report making money 90 percent of the time in the last 5 years. It won't usually be that easy. Se remember that you are reading about the good times when you go through this book.
Buy it, read it, and apply its lessons to make your own success greater! You're much more likely to create an irresistible growth enterprise when you do.
I encourage you to always be building your relationships with outstanding people. You can learn from them, and often they will become important allies in your entrepreurial journey!
What is really useful about the book in the context of the post-web-bubble experience is the excellent way it captures the mood and thinking of the time and the story behind some ventures whose outcomes were still unknown when the book was first published. We now know of e-Bay's staying power and WebVan's demise as well as the stories of several other companies discussed in the book.
Benchmark is still going strong with a talented team and an enviable portfolio. It would be wonderful to get a follow up article (maybe it has already been done) that shows how the Benchmark team handled the heat of the web meltdown and what their current portfolio thinking is. And, of course, it would be nice to get information on the whys and wherefores of Benchmark's foray into the international arena (it was contemplated in this book and, from the Benchmark website, it is now a reality).
This is well done (even if the language is real-life rough) and I am very glad to have read it. I recommend it highly.
Benchmark annually sifts through the 1000s of business plans to fund a handful of dot.com startups to IPO, as described in the entertaining well-referenced chapters covering billion-dollar startups like eBay and Webvan, as well as others like: Tristata, Toys-R-Us, Red Hat, Scient, Priceline, ePhysician, newwatch.com, art.com etc...
Possible improvements include: portrayal of global context; more statistical evidence/facts about VCs/startups/etc..; significant objective analysis & reflection of events; and formatting to include summaries/lists etc.. (like 'Confessions of a Venture Capitalist' by Quindlen). These would help the reader use the information rather than just be entertained by the storyline.
Overall an intelligently, well-written, 'fly-on-the-wall' tale gamely capturing much of the passion, technology and business acumen/judgment exhibited by a likeable & lucky, hard-working company with integrity. More entertaining than useful to most business readers- hence the only average rating.
Want to see more reviews on this item?
Most recent customer reviews