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March 10, 2010

VC Bookworm

JJB Book cover

"I've decided to write a book," I told my wife over a year ago.

She gave me that what-the-bleep-are-you-talking-about look.  You may be familiar with your spouse.

"You've what?"

"I've decided to write a book," I repeated, slightly less confidently.

"On what?"

"Venture capital and entreneurship."


"Well, when I was an entrepreneur, I couldn't find any good books on how this mysterious capital-raising process worked and how to harness the resources and knowledge of the VC industry to help build my start-up. Now that I've seen it from the other side, I want to explain to entrepreneurs how it all works to help them be successful. There are good blogs out there, but no good books that pull it all together."

"When are you going to find the time to write a book?" she challenged.

I didn't have a very good answer for that one.

But somehow I've figured it out over the last year plus and am pleased to report that my book, called Mastering the VC Game, will be coming out this spring from Penguin’s business imprint, Portfolio (see http://bit.ly/5dDkY9).

I've gotten wonderful feedback from dozens of insightful entrepreneurs and VCs, many of whom I interviewed for the material, as well as the support of my partners and my family.

In the next few blogs, I'll talk a bit about who I interviewed, what I learned and what lessons might be useful to entrepreneurs.

Although VC money is not a fit in all cases, the lessons from VCs and the entrepreneurs they work with are useful in a broad range of businesses.

So stay tuned for more information.

But first, here's a question I've been wanting to ask - if you could interview a bunch of VCs and entrepreneurs and get them to disclose how they practice their trade, who would you want to interview?

I'm curious to see if I selected the right ones.

Follow me on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/bussgang


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Jeff, can't wait to read it. And how DID you find the time with all that's on your plate! To answer your question, I'd interview Dermot Berkery of Delta Partners. He's a great VC AND a great human being. http://bit.ly/d3i3js

Dermot know his trade very well. He wrote a great book for entrepreneurs which comes at the subject from a different angle than yours so I imagine they will both me on my list of books to recommend to entrepreneurs. Your blog has been on my recommended list for this purpose as noted here http://bit.ly/dDx75a

Be sure to tell us when "Mastering" is in the shops. Congratulations on getting it done.


I look forward to reading this - Congratulations on getting it done!

Will there by a Kindle version?

Yes! At least that's what my publisher tells me.

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Thanks, Des!  It will be available end of
next month. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/5dDkY9.


Congratulations, Jeff. I'm sure there will be a few lessons those of us in the corporate world can take away as well.


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That’s the intent, Paul. You’ll have to
tell me if I achieve it. Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker was one of my role
models/inspirations. I’m not that interested in bond trading, but somehow the
stories and characters he brought to life allowed me to enter their world and
learn from it.

Some years back, when a reporter at the Financial Times, I wrote Smarter Ventures for the European market (in the teeth of the technology downturn: “You’re writing a book on venture captial?” people would puzzle). Unlike you I'd been neither a VC nor an entrepreneur. So was entirely unbiased, but far from an insider - even if very lucky regarding how many people were preprared to talk at length. Look forward to reading about all the dirty secrets I failed to uncover.


Thanks, Katharine. The book is more "how to" then "tell all". I did a few international profiles as well. Curious if things have changed since you wrote your book.

Looking forward to the book. Was actually just reading Tom Perkin's "Valley Boy" and enjoyed the stories of building startups and later on the VC practice. I'm sure there'll be more current/relevant lessons learned from your book.

Some of these folks fall into both categories, but here are 6 of each:

Entrepreneurs: Peter Thiel, Steve Blank, Mick Mountz, Elon Musk, Mark Pincus, Mark Zuckerberg

VCs: Josh Kopelman, Maria Cirino, Vinod Khosla, Brad Feld, Mike Maples, Jr., Marc Andreesen

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This is a great list.  Stay tuned as to
who I chose – but a few of these indeed were very insightful for me.

Jeff: I'd make sure you have Rich Levandov on your list, General Partner, Avalon Ventures, http://avalon-ventures.com/, and Masthead Venture Partners, http://mvpartners.com. What I love about Rich is that he marches to his own drummer and picks his target markets (and companies) well ahead of the pack. He's also a local boy:)

I'm also writing a book. I'd be interested to hear more about the process of writing (did you write only when you were inspired? structured time? etc) and publising your book. A book, like a startup, is a very personal thing--its your thoughts after all.

I took a class at Sloan called Early Stage capital with Shari Loessberg. She did a great job of bringing the full range of investors out there (vc and not, completely different styles and values). I think seeing the dichotomy is the most important thing. I got to hear Chris Gabrieli speak. I also got to speak to a VC (who didn't speak to the entire class) who straight up said they try and screw people.

Indeed they have in terms of the environment I was writing about. The European venture industry has changed beyond recognition. When I started, there were 200 or so members of the Swedish Venture Capital Association alone. Europe had the shakeout post the bursting of the bubble that never happened in the US (until now, maybe..). There is pretty much an "underhang" of capital now across the region - but also important to note that a number of things in terms of the entrepreneurial ecosystem have changed for the better. As for the principles behind how to extract money from VCs, probably not alot changed there!

Congrats Jeff, huge accomplishment!!

I already pre-ordered a copy from Amazon, does this make me the first purchaser? I'm jealous that my daughter Lucy has seen a copy and I have not. She thinks I'll particularly enjoy your characterizations of board members.

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Lucy can do a mean Paula Abdul and Simon
Cowell. J

wow can't wait to read it. when will this be out and where can i buy it?

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Next month, but you can pre-order on
Amazon: http://bit.ly/mstrVC.

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