Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Particularly good for high-tech, venture funded startups
on June 21, 2014
I have read numerous books on Boards of Directors, and have sat on both Boards of Directors and Boards of Advisors. I read Brad Feld’s blog (Feld Thoughts), and have learned a lot from it, so I was looking forward to reading this book.
On the positive side, it is well written, and an easier read than many books on Boards (not exactly a scintillating topic). It is quite thorough, and covers some topics that I have not seen covered elsewhere (e.g., Going Out of Business). It is very strong on communications with your Board, better than any other book I have read.
My one significant concern speaks to the authors’ backgrounds. The book is very much oriented toward startups that are involved with venture capital, that go through a seed round of financing, then Round A, Round B, etc., and that are internet or software related. This is not surprising, given the authors’ backgrounds, but it makes the book less useful to the vast majority of startups that are not as described.
If you are a startup in the high-tech, high-growth, venture-funded arena, by all means buy this book, read, reread it, and pay attention to its sage advice.
If, however, you are like most startups, funded by friends and families, expecting to grow as fast as internal cash allows, and are in a non-high-tech business, you will still learn a lot from this book, but I would recommend you first read “5 Steps to Board Success” (Mark Daly) and/or “Creating Effective Boards for Private Enterprises” (John Ward).
A couple of specific comments:
(a) In several places the authors recommend that you have your attorney attend board meetings and take the minutes. Perhaps this is important for the types of companies they invest in, but I believe it is overkill for most companies – no board I have sat on has done this. That said, make sure the person taking minutes (perhaps the corporate secretary) knows what s/he is doing so the minutes are concise, accurate, and only include appropriate material.
(b) Many startups formed today (perhaps a majority) are LLCs (limited liability companies) rather than corporations. LLCs do not have Boards of Directors. They can have Boards of Advisors, or (if manager managed) can have a “board” of members who act like Directors, appointing executives, etc. While this book has a (good) chapter on Boards of Advisors, I wish they had integrated more discussion of LLCs into this chapter in particular, and into the book as a whole. I do not believe they mention LLCs anywhere in the entire book.
Any startup CEO will learn a lot from this book; CEOs of high-tech, high-growth, venture funded startups will particularly benefit.