Prospective entrepreneurs may think they know everything there is to know about starting a business in Silicon Valley. They can draw up business plans, have meetings with venture capitalists, maybe even get funded and actually launch a start-up. However, in The Monk and the Riddle
, Silicon Valley sage Randy Komisar reasons that's only half the equation for success. And it may not be the important half. Komisar has worked with a number of companies--Apple, LucasArts Entertainment (the gaming division of George Lucas's empire), and WebTV among them--and has come to a rather startling conclusion: if you can't see yourself doing this business for the rest of your life, don't start it. In other words, he wants to see passion and purpose in business, not just spreadsheets and a by-the-numbers business model.
To illustrate, Komisar takes the reader through a hypothetical Silicon Valley start-up, with an eager entrepreneur named Lenny trying to get funding for an online casket-selling business. As Komisar helps Lenny find the real purpose of the business, the passion behind the revenue projections, he reflects back on his life as an entrepreneur. Komisar emerges as a master storyteller, the kind of guy you'd feel honored to share a bottle of wine with. And you believe his conclusion: "When all is said and done, the journey is the reward." It's great if you've made billions on the journey, but the important thing is that you do something you can truly throw yourself into. --Lou Schuler
Komisar is among a new breed of executives who have been called "virtual CEO's." Unlike consultants, they not only advise but actually work for companies that tend to be very small high-tech or Internet start-ups. In addition to working currently for seven such companies, Komisar has worked with WebTV and TiVo, was the "real" CEO at LucasArts Entertainment, and was one of the founders of Claris Corporation. With the assistance of freelance writer Kent Lineback, who has produced numerous films and videos for the Harvard Business School, Komisar here intertwines the story of his own career with that of two fictional entrepreneurs. The purpose is to show how deals are made and businesses get started in Silicon Valley. Komisar's many experiences allow him to speak firsthand about how venture capitalists and headhunters think and operate. He also warns that passion and vision are just as important as a well-crafted business plan. Throughout, we also get a strong dose of Komisar's own philosophy of success and fulfillment, a philosophy that might best be called Zen capitalism. David Rouse