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Customer Review

on July 22, 2000
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. The University is at the heart of the Silicon Valley boom in producing engineering and business talent for the industry as well as funding it, but it is cast as some kind of conspirator that tried to thwart Benchmark's efforts to launch its first fund. Did the author even attempt to get Stanford's side of the story or those of the other limited partners who were supposedly part of this X-files type conspiracy? Some "off-the-record" perspective, at the least, might have been helpful in balancing the two sides of the story. I think at this point the author is just being plain lazy and makes one wonder what his terms were for being granted access to Benchmark's inner sanctum. After these distortions it becomes difficult to trust the book on other matters, for example the account the author gives about Jerry Kaplan and Onsale relative to the rise of eBay. How fair is it? It's hard to know.
All and all it's a disappointing book. I didn't learn a thing. I expected more since I benefited from the author's previous book on Microsoft. This is too bad, because eBoys could have been an excellent book had it been better researched and more balanced.
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