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Martin’s New Books on High-Technology List

Martin’s New Books on High-Technology List:

The Silicon Valley Edge by William Miller et al. (Stanford University Press, October 2000)

This edited collection contains articles by both academics and practitioners. The book’s objective is to answer the question of why Silicon Valley has been so innovative. There are some very good articles in this collection. Some are somewhat less useful, because it is difficult to get practitioners to reflect upon their practice.

Done Deals: Venture Capitalists Tell Their Stories by Udayan Gupta (Harvard Business School Press, September 2000).

This is a collection of 32 short articles written by venture capitalists and individuals involved in high technology. Many of the most important venture capitalists contributed to this collection. One difficulty with this collection is that there is no cross-article consistency. This means that the book is more of a collage and does not add up to more than the sum of its parts. Further, though many important venture capitalists are included, many equally important venture capitalists are omitted. There is no reasons given for those included and those omitted.

eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work by Randall Stross (Crown Business Books, June 2000).

This is the author’s discussion of the operation of the Benchmark Capital, one of the most successful new venture capital funds. Their first two funds were fabulously successful having invested in eBay, Ariba, and many other e-commerce deals. The book is not analytical and uses many quotes from the protagonists. What is missing is a more serious examination of the reasons for Benchmark’s success, a tracing of the history of the partners. The book gives little in the way of how explanation as to how deals are structured, the partnership is organized, and the other important details. It is a pity because the author obviously had excellent access to the internal workings of this important venture capital firm.

Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing by Thierry Bardini (Stanford University Press 2000)

This history of the role of Douglas Engelbart in the development of the personal computer sparkles. It is extremely well researched and shows how a set of concepts about how humans would use computers evolved from Engelbart’s Stanford Research Institute laboratory to Xerox PARC and then set the groundwork for the personal computer. For those interested in the technological roots of the PC, this is a must-read book and the perfect companion for Freiberger and Swaine’s Fire in the Valley. This is a dense read, but the reader will be rewarded.

The Silicon Boys and Their Valley of Dreams by David A. Kaplan (William Morrow & Company 1999)

This popular book captures the character of Silicon Valley in the late 1990s. Kaplan gained access to material and gossip that is rarely, if ever, published. His discussion of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers is the best examination of an elite venture capital fund ever written. This is a great book for adoption in courses, particularly at the undergraduate level. If you are interested in Silicon Valley, then this is a must read.

From Silicon Valley to Singapore: Location and Competitive Advantage in the Hard Disk Drive Industry by David McKendrick, Richard Doner, and Stephan Haggard (Stanford: Stanford University Press)

This book is one of the finest studies of the cross-national industrial interlinkages ever done. It is carefully researched and well written. If you are interested in how a cross-national value chain is organized and the locational aspects of a high-technology industry that is siting its manufacturing overseas, then this book is for you. My only quibble is that I wish they had devoted more discussion to the Silicon Valley aspects of this industry. This book gets my highest recommendation.

High Stakes, No Prisoners: A Winner’s Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars by Charles H. Ferguson 1999. (New York: Times Books)

This is a special book and should be read by every entrepreneur seeking venture capital investment. In unvarnished prose it presents an angry, mistrusting entrepreneur’s perspective of the relationship between an entrepreneur and his venture capitalists. This is not to say that his perspective is correct or balanced, but it does provide an insight into how the relationship can operate. It certainly indicates that with so many potential gains at stake the venture capitalists will consider their own interests. It also shows how complicated the webs of intrigue between founders, outside executives, and venture capitalists can become.

Ferguson’s contribution is to highlight the fact that the relationship between the entrepreneur and the venture capitalist is not simple and easy. Read this book and think about it, but also remember that personalities can also create unnecessary friction.

Angel Investing: Matching Start-up Funds with Start-up Companies by Mark Van Osnabrugge and Robert W. Robinson (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass)

This is an excellent study of the phenomenon of angel investing. It is not simply a how-to-book, rather it has some intellectual depth and a breadth of vision often missing in books on venture capital and angel investing.

The prose is somewhat dry, but if you are interested in this topic, then this is the best recent book.