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Done Deals: Venture Capitalists Tell Their Stories Hardcover – September, 2000

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Until a few years ago," notes journalist-consultant Udayan Gupta, "venture capitalists were hardly on anyone's radar screen." That's not the case these days, as financiers who used to work behind the scenes now regularly set markets afire with their public support of high-profile technology and Internet stocks. In Done Deals, Gupta allows 35 of the brightest stars in what has become a $30-billion-a-year business to tell their own stories in their own words. We get to see exactly what they were thinking when they backed such endeavors as Intel, eBay, Excite, Genentech, and 3Com. Gupta's intention is to demonstrate how the industry has changed over the past half-century and how it differs today among its various forms. He achieves this beautifully by dividing the first-person accounts into thematically attuned sections that focus on dealmakers of the future (such as Mitch Kapor of Accel Partners), early pioneers (including the late Benno Schmidt of J.H. Whitney & Co.), West Coast veterans (such as Don Valentine of Sequoia Capital), past and present East Coast practitioners (like Charles Waite of Greylock Management), and visionaries (including John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers). Some of the stories are more detailed than others, but taken together, they provide a well-rounded view that will interest anyone who must deal with this often intertwined yet still individual world. --Howard Rothman

From Publishers Weekly

With the growth of the Internet and the exploding number of startups, venture capital has become far more significant not only to the companies that benefit from the money but to investors curious about venture capitalists' analyses of the market. Gupta, a former Wall Street Journal staffer, has interviewed 35 of the most prominent figures in the venture capital world from across the country, including such key players as Mitch Kapor of Accel, Michelangelo Volpi of Cisco, Lionel Pincus of Warburg Pincus, and Steve Lazarus of ARCH Venture Partners. In their own words, these financial wizards discuss how they pick companies and what tools they use to evaluate new investments. For example, Arthur Rock, a patriarch of today's venture capitalists who invested in Apple and Intel, says, "I think you have to be a technologist today, because there are so many different technologies converging that you have to understand where everything is coming from. When I started doing these deals, there was no competition. You could make some mistakes, and still not get very far behind. Today, if you make any mistakes, you're dead." Readers looking for insights into the success of technology companies will certainly find some here. Although it would have enhanced the book for general readers if the editor had supplied more connective material between the interviewsAsupplementing the strong introductionAthis title will undoubtedly attract attention in Silicon Valley or any tech industry hot spot where the names of the contributors are well known. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvard Business School Press
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (September 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875849385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875849386
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #948,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Udayan Gupta is a business journalist. He was a long-time Senior Writer at the Wall Street Journal, and has written extensively for Venture, Black Enterprise, Advertising Age, Inc. and Institutional Investor. He is the author of Done Deals: Venture Capitalists Tell Their Stories (HBS Press) and The First Venture Capitalist: George Doriot (Gondolier/Bayeux Arts). A graduate of Harvard College, he is a Walter Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed reading this book. Others may be critical of the quality of writing but no one can be critical of the quantity and quality of information provided. (But if you're looking for "insider information", look elsewhere.) These VCs probably did write what is attributed to them. Brilliantly organized (and probably edited somewhat) by Gupta, the 31 individual commentaries address two themes: "the sharp contrast between the practitioners of early venture capital and those practicing today, and the coastal divide -- the difference in venture capital and practice between the West Coast and the East Coast." Gupta includes first-person perspectives on "the newest incarnation of venture capital"; how several VC's got their start and their impressions "of the industry's more recent success and notoriety"; "contrasts [on the West Coast] between the first forty-five years and the past five"; commentaries on "the early days in Silicon Valley" and those circumstances "that enhanced its entrepreneurial process"; and other commentaries which focus on the future and "where the industry is headed in the next fifty years." I know of no other single source which provides the number and quality of commentaries which are assembled in this volume. By reading them, you will gain a much better understanding of one of the most widely-discussed and least-understood components within our nation's economic history during the past 50 years.
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By A Customer on October 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Best articulation of the evolution of the VC industry dating back to the 1950s. Learned more about the VC industry in this one book than other previous books collectively. Unravels various and competing schools of thought among the great VC minds, of past and present. Very candid and insightful, and makes one appreciate its history. Have fun reading this book ... a definite page-turner.
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By A Customer on December 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Where are the great stories that are promised? I read the whole book and am still scratching my head! Most of the stories surround how the VC's got started in the business, what it was like being a VC in the 60's & 70's, how much money investors made on different investments, etc...not why deals were funded. I was hoping to get a better sense of what decision making criteria were used to justify various investments and left severely disappointed.
Where is the industry going? Again, no real insights here...
As someone stated earlier, if I wanted a historical perspective on the VC industry or a who's who in the industry, there are many, many sources on the internet for this information.
Try Ruth Ann Quindlan's book for better insights into the decision making that goes into dealmaking.
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Format: Hardcover
While this book was written at the height of the Internet boom and contains nothing but some intimations of the subsequent crash (some of the VCs stated that they suspected returns would turn negative sometime in the near term), it is a fascinating capturing of the history of the venture capital industry in the words of those that built it. It is not a book on how to become a VC or how to submit your b-plan in a way to attract VC money. If you want books on getting investment money, I recommend - The Venture Capital Cycle - by Paul Gompers or for angel money - Angel Investing - by Mark Van Osnabrugge.

The book begins with a very short summary of the growth of the VC industry after WWII and then presents the VCs in five groups. It begins with the "Fast Forward" or the hot Internet and computer based VCs. Then come the "Beginnings" - the group after WWII that built the industry. A contrast is made with the next two groups, the East Coast versus the West Coast VCs. Finally, a group is presented in Visions.

Each of the VCs is presented with a little drawing in the WSJ style. I think this book is worthwhile just to get to know some of the big names, where they work - or used to work (there have been some changes since 2000) - and what projects these firms and people did. It can help in building professional associations let alone dinner conversation.

Is it a must read? I don't think so. However, if you are interested in the venture capital industry I think this would be a very good way to get some understanding of the terrain the industry has occupied and who some of the movers and shakers are (and were).
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Format: Hardcover
Many of the yesteryear superstars from the boom hitech sector may have unceremoniously gone belly up, and VC is not exactly as "hot" as it was at the turn of the century, but turns out that circling overhead the dot-com carnage was an enthusiastic Gupta scribbling detailed notes of what was going on in the industry. He rounded up a flock of 35 leading venture cap investors, from early pioneers such as Eugene Kleiner and Arthur Rock to current industry stars Geoff Yang and John Doerr. Had them reveal a great deal of gripping skinny on their ventures, solid facts from actual deals they'd worked on. Organized the stash of all this collective wisdom into a neat little bound volume -- and voila - we have a ripper of a book!
Organized into five parts (Fast Forward, Beginnings, West Coast, East Coast and Visions), the book examines the industry's humble beginnings to its extraordinary present (ok, very very recent past and hopefully a recent future). For a non-US reader such as myself, it also contains a priceless critique on the differences between West Coast and East Coast investing, which is unique because you'll recognize that a relatively nascent industry such as VC can sport widely varying investment philosophies as well. As investment spreads out to Europe, Australia and China, this becomes even more useful.
The book packs info about the hottest deals we had heard about - from Yahoo to www.Amazon.com - which makes for a gripping read in of itself. But beyond that, there are invaluable insights and discussions at length about how the VCs set up their partnerships and hand pick top management teams. Much better than reading a "VC 101" text book because it presents a hands-on glimpse at the industry's past and future from the veterans' point of view.
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