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Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital Hardcover – March 11, 2008
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An "ultimately satisfying biography of Georges F. Doriot, the transplanted Frenchman who is often called the father of V.C." --The New York Times, June 1, 2008
This book will appeal to anyone interested in the origins of venture capital, why its centre of gravity moved from the Boston area to the west coast, or what it takes to succeed as a VC investor. --The Financial Times, April 17, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Ante's portrait is one of a driven maverick, visionary and Renaissance man who made an astonishing contribution to the war effort and modern business culture, and yet he seems very human and at times poignant. I was especially moved by Doriot's tireless passion in helping American soldiers as well has his 48-year marriage to his wife Edna and how they spent their last years together.
I loved this book because it's such an unusual and valuable contribution to our understanding of the 20th century. Doriot has been an unsung hero in many ways, and by bringing his life into focus, Ante weaves people and international events in a way that makes us see our world as ever more fascinating, multi-faceted and interconnected.
Spencer Ante has written the definitive work on the industry's history. If you're a young VC or someone that wants to know how innovation works in the U.S. I highly suggest reading this book.
However, that foreigner had some assets: a strong Protestant work ethic, a passion for technology and the future, a confident yet humble personality that was at ease with people of all stations in life, a strong volubility, a sense of compassion, and a deep understanding of the importance of education. Furthermore, that same foreigner wanted to run one day his own company after the example of his father.
Who would have bet in 1921 that such a foreigner would one day become:
1) Arguably the most influential and popular professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Business;
2) The driver behind the foundation of INSEAD, one of the leading business schools in the world;
3) The man who played a key role in the well-being of the American soldiers during WWII by spearheading to their benefit a quite revolution in engineering;
4) And last but not least, the father of the venture financing industry as we know it today around the world.
That foreigner was a Frenchman and his name was Georges Doriot. As it is often the case, an extraordinary woman, who remained mostly in the background, was part of that story. Her name was Edna Allen and she was American.
To summarize, Ante succeeds in bringing back to light a man whose contributions deserve to be better known, especially, in business circles.
The historical context of Georges' life and even his father's was helpful and instructive. What was most powerful was the discussion of later years when Georges' firm struggled to retain talent and to place investments. An argument is made that essentially tax code crippled the firm - my over simplification for review purposes. For students of politics and how politics shapes economies, this is an excellent resource.
At no point is any character in the book beatified. This is not a sing-songy congratulatory book. It is a solid look at the conditions that led to early VC on the East Coast and eventual dominance by VC on the West Coast . . . it wasn't the trees, running trails and views that pulled people West. You will get a much better feel for the forces that pushed VC out of the East as well as the forces that drew VC West.
It is a great read about an inspirational Frenchman who was thoroughly American. American spirit at its best.
1 part history, 1 part politics, 2 parts economics, 3 parts clever
Good for: Economy shapers, history buffs, and those needing a little inspiration through the power of perseverance.
In 1921, Doriot came to America on a steamship. Even though he had no friends or family in the United States, never graduated from college, and dropped out of graduate school, the Frenchman became, arguably, the most influential and popular professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business. Over three generations, Doriot taught thousands of students [Page xiv].
He was early to recognize the importance of globalization and creativity in the business world. “A lot of the things that were attributed to Peter Drucker [link blog] were Doriot’s ideas” says Charles P. Waite [Page xv].
He believed in building companies for the long haul, not flipping them for a quick profit. Returns were the by-product of hard labor, not a goal. Doriot often worked with a company for a decade or more before realizing any return. That is why he often referred to his companies as his “children”. “When you have a child, you don’t ask what return you can expect” Doriot was quoted in a 1967 Fortune story “Of course, you have hopes – you hope the child will become President of the United States. But that is not very probable. I want them to do outstandingly well in their field. And if they do, the rewards will come. But if a man is good and loyal and does not achieve a so-called good rate of return, I will stay with him. Some people don’t become geniuses until after they are 24, you know. If I were a speculator, the question, of return would apply.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read, especially if you're a business/innovation nerd. Some thoughts on Doriot:
--When he ran ARD (and also as Quartermaster, to some extent) he was relentlessly... Read more
What an interesting man. A fascinating life as an immigrant turned Harvard professor turned military general turned venture capitalist. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Matt Lenzini
A clever man from the last century whose life is interesting and motivating. My favorite story was George Marshall giving him his phone number at the end of a large meeting to use... Read morePublished 20 months ago by gregg gullickson
This just doesn't go deep enough into the character of Georges Doriot, one of the most fascinating characters in the history of business. Read morePublished on February 4, 2014 by David M. Freedman
I enjoyed the book and the story of a man and how venture capital started. Understanding the history and experiences behind Georges Doriot, his investments and view of business is... Read morePublished on January 12, 2014 by Sergio
What a story. Venture capital is probably one of the most important inventions of the 20th century, an institution which fuels a great deal of the world's innovation economy. Read morePublished on November 6, 2013 by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry
I loved this book! Its a must read if you want to start a company. I have recommended it to all my friends who are building companies. Read morePublished on May 13, 2013 by Are H. T
Creative Capital provides a detailed portrait of the extraordinary Georges Doriot, who (surprisingly) was the founder of the U.S. venture capital industry after World War II. Read morePublished on April 25, 2012 by Andy Tannen