Archive for the ‘Creative Capital’ Category

It’s Here! The Kindle Edition of Creative Capital

March 30, 2009

I am happy to make a little news of my own on this blog. The Kindle edition of Creative Capital is now officially available.

Please click here to see the Amazon page where you can purchase the Kindle edition for $9.99. You can sample the beginning of the book for free says Amazon.


One big and obvious upside of the electronic edition of the book is that it’s much cheaper than the hardcover, which costs $23.10.

A small downside: we did not include the book’s photo insert. Why? Because I would have had to pay somewhere between $500 to $1,000 to purchase the rights to license the digital rights of some of the photos.

I have no idea how many copies of the Kindle edition have been sold but it looks like someone actually figured out a way to buy it. My Kindle ranking on Amazon is higher than the ranking for the hardcover edition of my book. Perhaps a few folks bought it after I made the initial announcement at the Stanford Global Technology Symposium. On Friday I moderated a panel on corporate venture capital with top execs from IBM, Google and Microsoft.

According to Amazon, Creative Capital and over 245,000 other books are available for Amazon Kindle. You can sample the beginning of the book for free according to Amazon. Gives Creative Capital a Thumb’s Up

February 16, 2009

Got a Google alert this morning notifying me of a cool blog called that reviewed my book.

The blog is a news site and resource for entrepreneurs by an Australian fellow named Andy Ley, who describes himself on his Twitter feed as an “Entrepreneur, Investor, Blogger and Adventurer.”

As I wrote on Andy’s blog, I thought he really zeroed in some key themes and ideas that other reviews totally missed.

Here’s the beginning of the review:

Posted by Andy Ley on Monday, February 16, 2009
Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital By Spencer E. Ante. Published 2008. Review based on Hardcover.

“The son of a bitch has charmed them all.” And that’s the success of Georges Doriot… A man that began his journey as a foreigner in the U.S. with no one, and died having impacted the lives of everyone he met.

Spencer E. Ante’s portrait of Georges Doriot is sold as the man who pioneered the venture capital industry. But what we don’t realise from the outset, is exactly what sort of man it took to build the venture capital engine that continues to spur possibility and innovation today. Georges was certainly a twentieth-century maverick and Renaissance man.

“A commercial bank lends only on the strength of the past… I want money for things that have never been done before.” Georges Doriot’s life illustrates that by developing the impossible we become creators of the future. His story also shows that as a maverick you need stickability to overcome the efforts from the believers in the old.

The hard work in laying the foundations for venture capital go further than developing innovative investments… Creative Capital teaches us about developing innovative people. Georges Doriot took the view – bet the jockey, not the horse. “Products are less important than ideas, and ideas are less important than people.” Venture capital then started by recognizing the need to nurture and not just the furnishing of money.

“When a man has a stable of horses, and one wins the Grand Prix, do people say ‘What a good stable this man has?’ Or do they say, ‘You should get rid of your winner and develop the others.” Georges Doriot believed in fully developing investments and his success in capitalizing on the greater possibility rather than immediate returns was well recognized with his firm’s landslide returns.

Read the rest of the review by clicking here.

In Entrepreneurs We Trust

February 11, 2009

Trust may be the most scarce commodity around right now.

Wall Street can’t be trusted much these days, thanks to the financial crisis and a guy named Madoff. A lot of corporate executives haven’t done much to inspire trust. People have never much trusted their politicians. And even seemingly harmless athletes are finding ways to lose the trust of the public.

So who can you trust these days? Friends and family, of course. But beyond that close circle I would say that in the public sphere entrepreneurs still deserve to be trusted. Entrepreneurs represent the very best of America: They work very hard, they often develop products and services that improve our lives, and they create jobs that help our communities and the nation at large.

So as we continue to try to dig ourselves out of this deep hole, let’s try to keep finding ways to help entrepreneurs and small businessmen and businesswomen. Entrepreneurship flourishes in a climate of economic freedom, with low taxes and little regulation. You don’t hear too much about entrepreneurs in the discussion about the stimulus package and in talk about the economy. Wall Street firms and banks and Detroit seem to hog most of the attention.

But it’s the entrepreneurs and small businesses that will likely play a key role in reviving our animal spirits and lifting us out of this recession. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote a great and timely column today related to this issue when he slammed the Senate’s version of the stimulus, which banned banks and other financial institutions that receive taxpayer bailout money from hiring high-skilled immigrants on temporary work permits known as H1-B visas. More than half of Silicon Valley startups were founded by immigrants over the last decade. It is dumb and shortsighted to keep these industrious and smart folks out of our country–a subject I’ve written about before at BusinessWeek.

General Doriot, the focus of my book, was all about supporting entrepreneurs–from across the globe. The Doriot bucks above inspired me to write this post. Doriot used to give out this fake money at the annual meetings of his venture capital firm American Research & Development. last year, Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe was kind enough to send me a few of them. And now I am happy to share them with you.

History of U.S. Innovation and Venture Capital: Podcast of My Stanford University Talk

February 10, 2009

Check out a podcast of my talk from last week on the history of American innovation from Stanford Technology Ventures Program Entrepreneurship Corner, which publishes podcasts from the school’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Seminar Series.

The podcast runs about an hour and includes about 40 minutes of my talk, plus 15 minutes of questions and answers from those smarty-pants Stanford students as well as a few older folks in attendance, including a cool new entrepreneur/VC I met afterwards named Manu Kumar. Click here to listen to or download the podcast.

I have been getting a lot of positive feedback on the talks I gave in the Valley last week, including this one. I think the main reason is that I am sort of a contrarian who believes that great companies and innovations can emerge from a downturn. Let me know what you think if you listen to the podcast.

As one venture capitalist who attended a talk I gave at Quadrus, put it: “Thanks so much for putting the event together and for the invitation; it was inspiring to remind VCs to focus on the heart of entrepreneurship (vs. Being financial asset managers).”

[The Sierra Nevada mountain range from my plane window flying home.]

The Kindle: A Platform That Can No Longer Be Ignored

February 9, 2009

The big news today is that Amazon released the new version of the Kindle, its electronic reader. I’ve been a big critic of e-books for years but it’s clear that Amazon is changing the game for e-books, perhaps in the same way that Apple changed the game for digital music. And that means authors–and the publishing industry–can no longer afford to ignore the Kindle.

This would mark a huge shift in attitude and practice. I remember back in 2000, after I wrote my first cover story for BusinessWeek on Napster, Random House editor Jonathan Karp made me an offer to do an electronic book about Napster. I passed on the opportunity primarily because my goal was to write a real book, i.e. a book that you could hold in your hands and show off on a bookshelf. I also passed because the money was not huge and it wasn’t clear to me that people even wanted to read books in a digital version.

Now, the tables have turned big-time. Amazon won’t say how many Kindles it has sold but estimates put the number around 500,000. Also consider that Amazon underestimated the demand for the Kindle because it quickly sold out and has been out of stock pretty much since last November. If the 500,000 number is true, that would mean Kindle outsold the first iPod in unit numbers by 32%, according to Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney. In addition, Mahaney now estimates that Amazon will sell 1 million more Kindles this year, and another 3.5 million in 2010.

Add it all up and we could have 4 million Kindles in the market pretty soon, and that, thanks to Amazon’s huge and loyal customer base, Mahanney says “it’s not too hard to see 10 million Kindles sold one day.” Can you say PLATFORM???!!!

The stigma about e-books is going away. People are starting to read them as the technology improves. And now readers are, gasp, starting to actually request electronic versions of a book! A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a very smart venture capitalist. I asked him if he had read my book, Creative Capital. He said he wanted to buy it, and then he asked, “Is it on the Kindle?”

“No,” I said sadly. “I am looking into it now.”

This is true. I am in talks with my publisher Harvard Business School Press to create a Kindle version of my book. The main challenge is over the rights issue. Depending on what rights you have negotiated, authors and publishers may need to renegotiate permissions to receive rights to publish certain photos and text for the digital world.

So here’s the deal. Thanks to Amazon and the Kindle, e-books have gone from the “can afford to ignore” category to the “I am looking into it” category, and now are entering “I have to have it” bucket.

I think this should be good for readers and the publishing industry as a whole because it represents another outlet and market. But the transition may be a little bumpy as business models could be disrupted, and publishers become concerned that they are getting dis-intermediated out of their core business by technology companies.

But hey, it was inevitable that a technology that is thousands of years old would eventually give way to new forms of reading. And now that future has finally arrived.

Startup Fever Lives: Creative Capital’s Valley Tour Recap

February 7, 2009

Last week, I hit the Bay Area trifecta for an author: I had the honor and privilege of being invited to speak at Stanford, Berkeley and in front of a group of 100 of Silicon Valley’s movers and shakers at the Quadrus Center on Sand Hill Road.

Below I’ve posted some pics from the speech I gave at Quadrus, which was hosted by the Valley law firm Montgomery & Hansen, the Silicon Valley Bank, and Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs (SVASE), a nonprofit in Northern California dedicated to helping startup entrepreneurs. Click this link to see the rest of the pics.

The Quadrus event was the vision of John Montgomery, founding partner of the aforementioned law firm. One day last fall I got a call from John, who told me he loved the book because he thought it embodied the back-to-basics philosophy that the Valley needs to return to in order to thrive.

There was also a personal connection with John. During my research for the book, I interviewed his father, Parker Montgomery. Parker was the CEO of Cooper Laboratories, a successful pharmaceutical company backed by American Research & Development. Parker occasionally talked about Doriot to John but he never got the whole story about this mysterious guy that his father admired. That’s why he appreciated the book. “You connected the dots for me,” said John.

This is the kind of feedback that authors dream about, and I am grateful to John for reaching out to me and expressing his thoughts, and for putting this event together.

One other thought about this recent tour.

The startup dream is still alive at Stanford and Berkeley. About 100 folks showed up at my Stanford talk. Most of the audience was undergraduate computer science and engineering students. I spoke to a few of them afterwards and they told me they were interested in doing startups.

I also gave a talk to Jerry Engel’s class of MBA students at the Haas School. Jerry is Executive Director of the School’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The founder of Google Earth spoke before me. And then I gave a talk about the history of innovation. I spoke to one of the students afterward and he told me he wanted to do a startup as well, and that many of his classmates were considering the same path.

Tomorrow I will post some of the remarks I made to the folks at Quadrus.

Book News & Good Reads

December 13, 2008

Apologies for not posting that much lately. In New York, the pace slows down in December. And the imperatives of the holiday season take over. (Yes, I am a last-minute gift getter!)

First, some good news on the book front. I have been invited to give a talk at Stanford University’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Seminar next Feb. 4. I am really excited about that invite given the high quality of speakers (Vinod Khosla, Judy Estrin and Guy Kawasaki recently spoke) and the role that Stanford has played in the birth of Silicon Valley.

I have also been invited to give a talk at my alma mater–UC Berkeley. On Feb. 5, I will be speaking at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation of Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Finally, I want to give a few shout-outs to my colleagues at BusinessWeek who wrote some great stories this week illustrating our global reach and collective intelligence. Check out the following:

* New York online writer Arik Hesseldahl’s Tech Trends to Expect in 2009
* European correspondent Jennifer Schenker’s piece, Alcatel-Lucent’s Perpetual Turnaround
* Silicon Valley bureau writer Peter Burrows on Elevation Partners problems with its Palm investment.

Part 2: Slouching Through the Great Depression

November 24, 2008

Chapter Five
“Slouching Through the Depression”

Read Part 1

In January 1931, after the Doriots returned to Cambridge from their unorthodox honeymoon, Georges needed to find a new place to live with his wife. They soon found an apartment in Cambridge. The first Sunday after they moved in, a throng of friends and colleagues called on them.

Doriot, the self-described “most unsociable bachelor,” never led much of a social life, allowing most of his evenings to be consumed by work. This history made his colleagues and their wives even more curious about Doriot after he got married. Friends and coworkers continued to drop by their apartment to see the quirky professor and the woman who had agreed to marry him.

So, after a few weeks, having realized that “all my evenings would be wasted and I could not do any work,” the Doriots cancelled their lease and escaped to the Hotel Bellevue in Boston, where they stayed while Edna looked for a new apartment less central to the Cambridge social scene.

Even though Doriot was a professor, he and Edna led a spartan lifestyle. In the early 1930s, Doriot made about $4,000 or $5,000 a year, a comfortable middle-class income. But that security was compromised by the obligation he felt to regularly send money home to help take care of his parents and sister.

Still, the Doriots had it better than most Americans. In 1931, when the Great Depression kicked in, the U.S. unemployment rate surged to 16.1 percent, tripling from 3.1 percent in 1929. By 1930, breadlines broke out as desperate people lined up for free food doled out by states and cities.

Hoovervilles—those shantytowns comprised of hundreds of shotgun shacks cobbled together with cardboard boxes, egg crates, or corrugated tin—began sprouting across the American landscape. If Georges had strolled by Central Park’s Great Lawn on a visit to New York, he would have gaped at a vast squatter’s village with thousands of “utterly spiritless” people, in the words of writer Joseph Mitchell.

At least Georges and Edna had a job, a roof over their heads, and money to pay for food and clothes. But they still pinched every penny. At the Hotel Bellevue, Georges and Edna studied the breakfast menu very carefully to see whether they could find a breakfast that would feed the both of them. Porridge, they learned, was the best choice. As for beverages, they concluded that tea was preferable to coffee. Coffee would usually yield one cup of drink, but a teapot provided enough water for two cups.

Luck, that mercurial commodity, was in short supply during those bleak times. One day, Edna splurged and bought a bigger heater for their living room, but when Georges placed the heater on top of a glass table, the glass broke.

A short while later, Edna found an attractive apartment at 5 Arlington Street in Boston. It was a second floor unit with a balcony overlooking a garden and three high-ceilinged rooms. Most importantly, it was finally a place they both liked. “At the time there were few automobiles running on Arlington Street and we were not annoyed by their noise or smell,” said Doriot.


Late in 1931, Doriot became transfixed with the idea of globalization, or as he called it, the “international mind.” He viewed the increasing interdependency of the world as a means of maintaining peace. In a series of articles and speeches, Doriot developed these ideas, and his remarks received significant coverage by the press.

In one essay picked up by various U.S. newspapers, Doriot boldly called for the internationalization of all transportation systems in Europe—air, railroads, and steamships—as the most effective way to promote peace in that war-ravaged continent. By merging these transportation lines into a unified system owned by a group of international investors, Doriot argued that it would create a more efficient transportation network and, more importantly, “make national secrecy impossible and tend strongly to minimize national jealousies.” World peace could not be produced through political negotiations, he felt, but through industrial cooperation and coordination.

In November of 1931, Doriot expanded upon these ideas in an address he gave to the Two Hundred Fifty Associates of the Harvard Business School, a group of well-heeled donors. The address, titled “French and German Crisis,” offered a comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the French and German economies.

Doriot praised Germany as “clever, very clever,” arguing that the nation’s reindustrialization was “undoubtedly one of the outstanding feats of the century” and that “others should adapt themselves to it rather than try to duplicate or compete.” France, on the other hand, was following the “habit…of not talking very much about their troubles.”

In order to keep France and Germany from waging war against one another, Doriot proposed the formation of an international bank that would be given the power to “control and investigate all international loans.” By this means, loans intended to finance military purposes would be greatly hindered, thus preventing the suspicion that leads to a secret run-up to war, as had happened during the Great War.

Some of Doriot’s high-minded ideas would eventually become realities, but once again he was too far ahead of his time. In just a few years, European nationalism would reemerge with a vengeance, making a mockery of his pleas for cooperation.

Upcoming Event: IBM Talk on 10/30

October 22, 2008

Attention IBMers! I am happy to report that I have been invited to give a book talk and signing at IBM on October 30. The talk will be held in IBM’s Somers, N.Y. campus. Having covered Big Blue over the years, I’ve met a lot of IBM folks. If any of you are in Somers or the surrounding area, please come on by and say hello.

Here’s the copy from the invite.

Come join us at Somers CSB Auditorium
Thursday, October 30
10:00-11:30 a.m.

Reserve your spot now!

Our featured speaker is Spencer Ante, author of Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital, recently released by Harvard Business Press. Spencer has been covering the tech industry for most of his career and has been with BusinessWeek for the past eight years. He will be discussing his new book plus overall trends in venture capital investing and the IT industry, overall.

The first 100 attendees will be given a copy of book.

Creative Capital Book Party Pics

October 6, 2008

As promised, here are a few pics from the party. I will probably throw up a few more when they come in over the transom.