Posts Tagged ‘Creative Capital’

In Memory of Ken Olsen

February 15, 2011

Ken Olsen, the cofounder of Digital Equipment Corp, died last week.

The story of Olsen and DEC formed the heart of my book Creative Capital. I’ve been meaning to get around to publishing a blog post explaining why Ken Olsen still matters.

In the meantime, here are some of the best links to obits and memorials of Olsen, who Fortune magazine in 1986 called “America’s Most Successful Entrepreneur.”

Ken Olsen, Who Built DEC Into a Power, Dies at 84 by Glenn Rifkin of The New York Times

Innovator’s Dilemma
by Steve Syre of The Boston GLobe.

Remembering Ken Olsen by Paul Kedrosky of Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Remembering Ken Olsen by Bruce Richardson

Ken Olsen Memorial by John Furrier of Silicon Angle

Obit by IDG News Service

Obit by Chris Mellor of Channel Register

Memorial by Robert Lenzner of Forbes

Obit by Gregory T. Huang of Xconomy

Memorial by Gordon Bell on Xconomy

Deadly sins the tech industry can’t seem to shake by Bill Snyder of Infoworld


I Am Alive! Doriot Round-up

February 6, 2011

It’s been awhile since I posted anything new on this blog. Sorry for that. I’ve been pretty swamped working at The Wall Street Journal since last April.

However, the story of Georges Doriot continues to resonate. Over the last 10 months, I have seen more than 100 Websites or blogs make reference to Doriot or feature him in a post. Here is a select list of those links:

* Fisher Investments profile of Doriot. Each week, it profiles an important figure in market history, highlighting the fascinating and often irreverent lives of key figures that influenced how capital markets came to be. (April 30, 2010)

* Finance and Business history of venture capital highlighting Doriot. (May 1, 2010)

* Creative Capital Makes Top Book List of Pittsburgh Ventures. Good synopsis of take-aways. (May, 5, 2010)

* Investing Principles of Doriot by Rocky Top MBA. (June 25, 2010)

* Great Comment on Doriot’s Belief in Importance of Manufacturing on ZDNet blog post. (July 7, 2010).

Where’s Spencer?

September 27, 2010

It’s been more than three months since my last blog post so you might be wondering: What happened to Spencer?

Well, the short answer is I’ve been working hard at my new day job as Deputy Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal, which takes up most of my working hours.

Given how busy I am at WSJ I have decided to take a temporary hiatus from regularly blogging on Creative Capital. That may change in the future but for now if you want to keep up with my work please subscribe to my Twitter feed where I post links to many if not all of my WSJ stories.

Thanks to everyone for coming by to read this blog. I started it back in 2008 to help launch my book, and then it evolved into a publishing vehicle for a broader set of stories related to the book and my work as a technology and finance journalist.

I am not sure how it will evolve going forward but I am grateful to everyone who dropped by and contributed to the conversation. Onward ….

New Amazon Review: “Creative Capital is a Must Read If You’re In Business Today”

October 20, 2009

Check out a new customer review of Creative Capital, just published on

Creative Capital is a Must Read If You’re In Business Today
By Carole Gunst “loves to read” (Boston, MA)

Spencer Ante has done a wonderful job writing the life story of General Georges Doriot, respected Harvard Business School professor, military general, and the father of venture capital. I had the good fortune to hear Spencer, who also writes on business for Business Week magazine, speak about Doriot’s story at the French Library in Boston before I started reading the book. His stories about the man who was so influential for U.S. business were fascinating. Here are a few of Doriot’s quotes that he pulled from the book to share with us:

* “A real courageous man is a man who does something when no one is watching him.”
* “If information is to be exchanged over whiskey, let us get rather than give it.”
* “You will get no where if you do not inspire people.”
* “Always remember that someone somewhere is making a product that wil make your product obsolete.”

From the stories about Doriot’s early introduction to entrepreneurship as the son of a Peugot engineer, to Doriot’s entry into Harvard Business School, to the importance he played with R&D during World War II which taught him how to become a venture capitalist to the part he played in the starting up of Digital Equipment Corporation, this book remains fascinating.

If you are in business today or would like to be, this is a must read from a great writer about a visionary business thinker. I think you’ll agree that Doriot really pioneered the transition of U.S. business to an economy built on entrepreneurship an innovation.

Doriot Quote of the Day

September 7, 2009

Here’s one that seems appropriate for Labor Day, which also applies to startups of course.

“Never go into venture capital if you want a peaceful life. Keep on financing concrete that doesn’t move, that doesn’t call you at 2am in the morning.”

New Amazon Customer Review – “Timely Story Brilliantly Told”

September 4, 2009

A new review was just posted to Check it out. Thanks Chris!

5.0 out of 5 stars
Timely Story Brilliantly Told

September 3, 2009
By Chris Burbach (Phoenix, AZ)

I initially began reading Creative Capital to learn more about the origins and history of the venture capital industry and ultimately became enthralled with the incredible life story of General Doriot. His list of accomplishments is staggering to consider in terms of both scope and impact, but his approach to life was what stood out most. The persistence, care and dedication he demonstrated to the students he taught, his country, the country he adopted or the businesses he financed was truly inspiring. Spencer Ante does a brilliant job of telling his story and putting it into the historical context of the development of the venture capital industry.

Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in American history and is a must read for any student or practitioner of finance.

Doriot Quote of the Day

August 27, 2009

“A real courageous man is a man who does something courageous when no one is watching him.”

Doriot Quote of the Day

August 17, 2009

Over the next week or so, I am reviving a great idea that venture capitalist Fred Wilson came up with last year: The Doriot Quote of the Day.

One of the fun and surprising things I discovered while researching my book is that Georges Doriot had a knack for coming up with pithy, humorous and Nietzschian aphorisms.

Here’s one of my favorites:

“You will get nowhere if you do not inspire people.”

My Interview with Blog Talk Radio

August 7, 2009

Yesterday, Bill Brazell from Blog Talk Radio interviewed me about my book and the history and future of venture capital. Blog Talk Radio is a new Web service that broadcasts live radio programming. They are interviewing a lot of bigwigs in entertainment, politics, media, publishing, music and other industries. Martin Bregman, Gloria Borger and Seth Green were interviewed just this week.

Check out the interview here.

Listen to The Wit Network on Blog Talk Radio

How Today’s Crisis Changes Our View of the Past: Plus Two New 5-Star Amazon Reviews

May 1, 2009

One of the things that I did not anticipate about the response to Creative Capital is the degree to which it has been resonating in a downturn. Timing, like in most endeavors, is a pretty crucial factor in book publishing. And I remember thinking before Creative Capital came out in the spring of 2008 that I was glad the U.S. economy still seemed to be doing well.

But then the economy began to lose steam over the summer. The housing market continued to deteriorate. And before you know it, it was September and Lehman Brothers had gone bankrupt and Merrill Lynch sold itself in a fire sale. The U.S. had plunged into a deep and scary recession.

Suddenly, America, a nation of future-oriented amnesiacs, became obsessed with history, and, in particular, with the history of economic crisis. The surprising thing, for me, was that the financial panic changed the way I thought and talked about the book, and the way people viewed it as well.

Virtually overnight, my chapters on the Great Depression, and World War II, and my chronicling of multiple recessions and their inter-relationship with the nation’s entrepreneurial economy in the post-war period took on a new significance. True, one of the key arguments I make in the book was that the venture capital industry itself was born in response to the Great Depression. And that Silicon Valley was created in the midst of the nasty recession of the mid-1970s.

But the more I thought about today’s troubled times, the more I came to see that the history of innovation and economic downturns were in some ways inextricably linked. I came to see that some of the most successful companies were hatched or developed during a downturn. I developed a somewhat contrarian perspective based on my study of the past. And those insights continues to shape my work as a journalist today.

All this is a way of saying I am gratified that readers of the book agree with me that the story of Georges Doriot and the instrumental role he played in building our nation’s entrepreneurial economy still has lessons to offer us in today’s turbulent times. On that note, please check out these two reviews from my Amazon page. Both reviewers gave Creative Capital five stars. One is written by Robert Ackerman, a successful venture capitalist who is managing director and co-founder of Allegis Capital. Their reviews must be having a positive impact. Amazon says there are only three copies of my book left in stock!

The Man of Great Vision!, April 30, 2009
By maryann davenport “Maryann D.” (Southern California) – See all my reviews
Spencer Ante’s biography of Georges Doriot left me cheering my head off! He would look at the mistakes of today’s politicians and bank leaders and tell them exactly what they had done wrong and why and it would not be double talk. This is a great read about a true genius of business who came here from France and tried to teach how to be effective capitalists instead of idiot pretenders. It’s too bad we didn’t learn when we could have. We wouldn’t be in this mess now.
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A Must Read – If you care about Innovation and Growth, April 29, 2009
By R. Ackerman “Entrepreneur” (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

In his book Creative Capital – Spencer Ante not only captures the amazing story of a French immigrant (Georges Doriot) and his profound contributions to the United States in business education, government service and launch of the systemic US venture capital industry, he also distills the essence of entrepreneurism and its pivotal role in innovation and the growth of the US technology industry. By embracing creative ideas and pro-actively managing the risk inherent in bringing new technologies to market, Doriot demonstrated that economic growth and wealth creation are at the heart of the venture capital model and two sides of the same coin.

At a time when the US economy is looking for direction and the keys to its future growth and sustainably, Ante’s book is a must read for every politician, business leader and investor who is genuinely looking for the levers through which we can grow and extend our competitive advantage in a global economy. After reading Creative Capital, the question that comes to mind is “how can we proactively encourage more of the innovation that Doriot helped bring to life”.

Ante’s style delivers a great story in an easily readable format punctuated with data and facts that draw clear comparisons to the economic challenges we face to day.