Seemingly everyone in my network has been busy the last few weeks reading Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It, the highly anticipated book by Andreessen Horowitz partner Scott Kupor that published last month. By all accounts, it’s an excellent guide for helping entrepreneurs and other onlookers understand the practicalities of the venture capital business. I look forward to reading it soon. I, on the other hand, have been focused on a very different type of book on the venture capital industry. VC: An American History is a fascinating tour of the genesis and evolution of the venture capital business, spanning more than 200 years of development. The book was written by Tom Nicholas of Harvard Business School and released just one day before Secrets of Sand Hill Road. I have been eager to get my hands on this book since first learning about it months ago, and I’m happy to say, it didn’t disappoint.
I recently picked up a copy of How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don't, a book out last year by Leslie Crutchfield. I immediately became interested in the title because of my upcoming book The Startup Community Way, which will be out later this year. That interest came from the fact that our book (I’m co-authoring it with Brad Feld) is really about a special type of movement-driven social change—one built around local entrepreneurship. How Change Happens is the product of many years of research by Leslie and her team studying a wide range of social movements in the United States—from gun control, to same-sex marriage, to smoking, to drunk driving, to acid rain reduction, to vaccination, and beyond—and systematizing why some succeed while others fail. Dissecting these major movements case-by-case, Crutchfield and her team were able to uncover some interesting patterns about what works and what doesn’t. As I was reading the book, I had in the back of my mind “how do these social movements apply to building startup communities?” I’m glad I did, because it helped crystalize a few ideas I in my head.
Talent is to a knowledge-based economy what oil and steel were to an industrial-based one—it’s most important asset. And while agglomeration was important in the past too, it pales in comparison to the type of economic concentration we see playing out right now in major cities across the globe—talent wants to be around other talent. In fact it needs to be.
For decades, the United States has been the world’s biggest beneficiary of global talent flows by a long shot. But the United States risks squandering its long-held gift of global talent, due to changing economic conditions abroad and series of missteps at home. That’s the main message of an excellent new book from Bill Kerr of the Harvard Business School: The Gift of Global Talent: How Migration Shapes Business, Economy & Society.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Nicolas Colin. I’ve been an admirer of his writing in the past, and we had a delightful conversation at one of my favorite breakfast spots in London. For those of you who don’t know, Nicolas is a co-founder of The Family, an early-stage investment firm started in Paris and now operating in London and Berlin.
He is also the author a new book Hedge: A Greater Safety Net for the Entrepreneurial Age, which I’m happy to have completed just this week. Hedge hits three important notes for me: it is meticulously researched (527 references! 😍), very well-written, and has a point of view that stands out from the others.
In The Innovation Blind Spot: Why We Back the Wrong Ideas and What to Do About It, a book released just last week, social entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ross Baird discusses how our blind spots affect how, whether, and to what extent we support the ideas of tomorrow. In it, he describes how mental shortcuts, biases, and funding models prevent us from tackling our most pressing social and economic challenges, instead opting to solve problems that are familiar, and where investment returns are more predictable.
Much excitement has been building over what feels like the beginning of an era of immense technological advance, the central role that entrepreneurs will play in its development, and the potential for a wide range of regions to reap the rewards. But progress won’t come easy. Significant challenges are likely to follow as digital technologies expand into relatively untapped areas of the economy.
Two excellent books out in as many months—and a quick data analysis here—persuasively drive these points home.
If you’re like me, and in search of a much-needed reprieve from the professed doom and gloom of a hyper-autonomous and apparently jobless future, then I have just the book for you. Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy, out last fall, takes a hard look at the realities of the coming wave of automating technologies, such as advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, and the role humans will play in an increasingly digital future.
Although it's been out for nearly two years, I finally managed to read Creativity, Inc.—the first hand account of Ed Catmull, the genius behind Pixar, about his journey in building the company. While the book contains engaging stories behind some of the most commercially successful and entertaining animated films of all time, it's really a book about managing a fast-growing, innovation-driven, entrepreneurial, creative enterprise.