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eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work Hardcover – May 23, 2000
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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
"Writing with all the drama and speed of the Internet itself, Randall Stross spins a tale of risk-takers and rule-breakers that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This eye-opening firsthand account of the young, gutsy, and mega-rich entrepreneurs who are financing today's hottest Web-based businesses will leave you gasping. It's an insider's look at a very cloistered world--the one at the center of the most talked about revolution in business history."-
-Joël Glenn Brenner, author of The Emperors of Chocolate
"This is the one--the book about Silicon Valley we've all been waiting for. Randall Stross is the first journalist to truly crack the code, to get so far inside this world that what's emerged is not just an authoritative account but one that has the absolute ring of truth. With its vividly drawn characters, unforgettable scenes, and crackling dialogue, eBoys puts you in the room where instant companies--and instant wealth--are created. And when this age finally ends--as it surely will--eBoys will take its place as the definitive account of one of the wildest eras in the history of American capitalism."
--Joseph Nocera, editor-at-large, Fortune
"Randall Stross's eBoys is that rare book that's both an important work and a fun read. The Silicon Valley venture capitalists whom Stross writes about with such verve and grace are the equivalent of the tech world's Hollywood casting directors, holding daily tryouts to spot tomorrow's talent. The miracle of this book is that somehow we're in the room as some of the best known VCs in the Valley audition the future. The result is not only a rich, page-turning tale but a voyeur's dream that for my money is the single best look at the VC world to date."
--Gary Rivlin, author of The Plot to Get Bill Gates
"This book is so realistic that if you have been in a venture capital meeting it will make you sweaty all over again. eBoys is a terrifically written account of venture capitalists in action, financing the investor dreams or nightmares of the future with high-flying e-business companies like Webvan and eBay and more." The book is a great read."
--Jack Covert, president and founder, 800-CEO-READ
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Top Customer Reviews
If you want to try to experience the life of a VC without having actually had the job, eBoys is a great place to start. Granted, the story take place in the 90s when venture capital and entrepreneurs were making mind boggling returns and exits. I imagine the story of a VC would be very different today.
The one contention I had with eBoys is that it's story kind of wound around a bunch of stories. Sometimes it was a narrative of the Benchmark partners from an outsider perspective, and other times, it revolved the entrepreneurs. This is fine, but it would make leaps from one narrative to the next sometimes. This is generally just a problem faced by any book with multiple narratives. I think the author could have done a better job, but it is still applaudable.
The story is well-told and gives you an insider's view of how at least one venture capital firm makes the decision of who gets funding and who doesn't. It also serves as a cautionary tale about how even the most sophisticated investors get sucked into bubble mentality.
A valuable read for investors, entreprenuers, and aspiring venture capitalists.
The book is written in strong and very engaging narrative, I spent a few days of my vacation at a sunny resort...under a shade umbrella reading this book (the water slide had to wait !). The eBay story alone was facinating, as was the previous histories of each of the founders...and there was more ! I recommend this book to anyone who understands the silicon valley "environment", also to those having a sincere wish to do so.
What really intrigued me is how short the list was for the CEO's Benchmark put into place before the companies went or attempted to go public and the amount of involvement they had with these start up companies.
To me this is one of those books where truth is stranger than fiction. It reads like a novel, and I couldn't put it down.