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Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital Hardcover – March 11, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Richly researched with the cooperation of Doriot's surviving colleagues... --The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2008

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

About the Author

Spencer Ante is an editor at Business Week, where he has written many cover stories and received awards for excellence in reporting. He has also written and reported for The New York Times, Salon, Wired, Spin, Business 2.0, The Industry Standard, TheStreet.com, and other publications.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; First Edition edition (March 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422101223
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422101223
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Chang on April 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Americans always talk of saving France during WWII, yet at the same time, here was an intriguing French immigrant who rose to be a top professor of entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, a founder of the venture capital industry, founder of INSEAD the European business school and to top it all off- played a critical role in saving countless American lives in WWII by leading the innovation and production of quality military equipment and supplies.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Creative Capital is a must read for anyone that wants to know the history of venture capital - the single greatest engine for growth in the U.S. economy over the last 30-40 years.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Spencer Ante sheds a powerful light on the life and accomplishments of a foreigner who came alone to the U.S. in 1921 C.E. That man had neither family nor friends at his arrival. Furthermore, he never graduated from college in his native country. On top of that, that man was not rolling in money. The WWI had wiped out his father financially.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Creative Capital develops the frame of mind that was necessary to ultimately launch the venture capital world in the US. That VC was encumbered by political and corporate realities is entirely the point. As you hear those outside of the money world (journalists, academics, regular folk) talk of VC, you may wonder if it really is so free wheeling. No, it is not and Creative Capital makes that abundantly clear.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not many people ever heard of Georges Doriot. I knew his name because I know a little about VC. But I did not know much about him. Now that I read Creative Capital by Spencer Ante, I know much more. As usual, when I comment books, I mostly do some copy-pastes. Here they are:

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.
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