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eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work Paperback – May 29, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345428897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345428899
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,495,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"THE BEST GUIDE WE HAVE TO THE MYSTERIOUS WORLD OF VENTURE CAPITALISM."
--The Washington Post Book World

"A RING-SIDE SEAT AT A SINGULAR MOMENT IN BUSINESS HISTORY."
--The Wall Street Journal

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Customer Reviews

I recommend this book to anyone interested in Internet startups.
jeffrey barach
Few, if any, books on venture capital have the access that Stross had, especially to a firm like Benchmark.
Kevin Kwok
Yet, our author witnessed not one example of greed or shading the truth.
marcus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By a reader on July 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
eBoys reads like a Gospel tract for Benchmark Capital. I say this as someone who knows and likes "the boys" at Benchmark and can attest that their investment returns are genuinely top-tier. But unfortunately the author presents the Benchmark perspective to a fault, almost as if he's writing from inside some kind of reality distortion field.
For starters, there is a major distortion in the Introduction about one of Benchmark's main competitors in the venture capital business, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. All other partners at this firm outside of John Doerr are disparaged as "not-Doerr," as if Doerr were the only competent venture capitalist at the firm that entrepreneurs want to work with and the rest of the partners are simply a weak supporting cast. This disparagement is anecdotally directed at KPCB partner Will Hearst in particular. I suppose this is done for dramatic effect, but it is way off. In recent years Will Hearst has been one of the top-performing partners at the firm, in some funds surpassing John Doerr.
Meanwhile anyone who has been paying attention to the venture business in the least bit in recent years should know that KPCB partner Vinod Khosla, who was a cofounder of Sun Microsystems and is as much an entrepreneur as a venture capitalist, has been consistently hitting the ball out of the park, most recently with such multi-billion deals as Cerent and Siara. Not bad for a "not-Doerr" I would say.
Another major distortion is the author's account of Benchmark's falling out with Stanford University.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
With the economic success in the Valley, now everybody wants a piece of the action, including journalists. Sadly, this book will probably follow on Po Bronson's and Jerry Kaplan's as a script for a Hollywood movie.
I bought this book because, one, I've been operating as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley for some time, and, two, I enjoyed Randall Stross's book on Steve Jobs and Next. That book, "The Next Big Thing", exhibited balanced, accurate journalism.
Stross has lost my respect with Eboys, however. Sorry, but VC firms don't operate in this compassionate, humane way, and Benchmark is no exception. The book's message that these guys are motivated by service to the entrepreneur is laughable. The venture business is all about return on investment, and these guys are among the most tough-minded and ruthless in the Valley. To not recognize that most fundamental reality, Stross has either lost his mind or sold out.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By a reader on August 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The scuttlebutt in Silicon Valley is that the account of the psychiatric practice of Steve Jurvetson's wife given on page 62 was fabricated by the author; that the only thing accurate about this item is that she is a psychiatrist, the rest was made up. This gives one pause. And what's this business about venture capitalists not using the term VC? The author calls this taboo the "secret handshake" among VCs. I think the boys at Benchmark are pulling his leg on this one. But beyond this, as a book characterized as "an inside account of venture capitalists" it would have been much better if the author could have incorporated some of the history and larger context of the venture capital industry as part of his story, including more balanced accounts of Benchmark's competitors and partners alike. Jon Kraukauer successfully incorporated the history and technical aspects of climbing Mount Everest in his first-person account "Into Thin Air" which resulted in a brilliant book. Mr. Stross might have been able to do the same for venture capital had he taken the trouble.
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