Posts Tagged ‘Creative Capital’

Creative Capital Gets Ink in Mass High Tech

January 31, 2009

On Friday, Creative Capital picked up a nice review in Mass High Tech, a weekly publication covering business news of the New England high tech industry. MHT claims to be the largest regional technology publication in the country, with a circulation of 18,000.

Here’s the beginning of the review:

Two books look back at early Mass. tech leaders

With the relentless flow of bad-to-worse to even-worse business news in 2008, it is perhaps not surprising that two new books with regional relevance avoided the limelight last year. For Mass High Tech readers, though, they should be of special interest.

One is a memoir from the indomitable Leo Beranek (the second B in BBN Technologies, the company that helped build and run the ARPANET) spanning his Iowa farm boy childhood in the era of the Model T — he is 95 — up to his continued role as a 21st century acoustician. Then there is Creative Capital: George Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital by Spencer Ante (Harvard Business School Press, 2008), the long-overdue biography of the Frenchman who set down roots in Boston and, among other accomplishments, pretty much invented the modern venture capital industry.

Check out the rest of the review here.


Muy Bien: Creative Capital Lands in the Dominican Republic!

December 26, 2008

This just in: My book is finding readers in the DR!!! Muchas gracias Marcelle!!!

Submitted on 2008/12/26 at 1:05am

Good Evening Mister Ante:
I am a accounting student and my thesis was about Venture Capital. I have to confess that in my country (Dominican Republic) this topic is unknown. By the way I got excellent grades on my project. I bought your book and it is wonderful. I could know a lot of details about Georges Doriot.

Thank you very much for writting that great biography!

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.

Part 1: Slouching Through the Great Depression

November 21, 2008

It’s experimentation time at the Creative Capital blog! With the U.S. economy facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, my thoughts have returned to the chapter I wrote on my book about that dark period in our nation’s history, “Slouching Through the Depression.”

There are many lessons to be learned from this time. And now that we’ve all suddenly become students of history, I want to share some of the ones I’ve learned. So, with the blessing of my publisher Harvard Business Press, over the next week or so I am going to serialize Chapter 5 and publish it on this blog.

My hope is that the experiment sparks a conversation about that period and gets us thinking about how we can avoid slipping into a deeper economic funk and lead the country back onto a path of prosperity.

As we pick up the story, Georges Doriot, is a 30-year-old native of France who transformed himself over the course of the last 10 years in America from a young immigrant into a distinguished professor at Harvard Business School.

Chapter Five
“Slouching Through the Depression”

When Doriot returned to Harvard in the fall of 1931, he could look back on the past decade and smile with pride. In the relatively brief span of ten years, the young immigrant had conquered a new country.

Not only had he found a profession that brought him satisfaction and security, he had earned a reputation as one of the leading lights of the most important business school in the country; he had spearheaded the creation of a successful new business school in Paris; and he had found the love of his life and convinced her to marry him. And yet there was still a fire that burned in Doriot, a passion that kept him searching for his next mission impossible.

Doriot aboard the Ile de France, 1931
[Above: Doriot, the doctor of “sick businesses,” aboard the Ile de France in 1931.]

Perhaps that is why the 1930s—a time of diminished expectations for the entire nation—were probably the most frustrating period of Doriot’s life. He was always at his best when tackling an impossible job, but during the Great Depression, despite several attempts, Doriot never found a grandiose task to throw himself into as he had done so many times during the previous decade.

At times, a similar mood of discontent permeated the home of the Doriots. The 1930s would have been the ideal time for Georges and Edna to start their own family. But the Doriots never did have a child.

No doubt, Doriot’s lack of children profoundly shaped his character. Over the next forty years, he compensated for this absence by nurturing countless students and younger colleagues as if they were his own offspring. “He often said the only advantage of not having children is you choose them,” says Claude Janssen, who studied under Doriot in the 1950s. “He chose three: Arnaud de Vitry, Robert McCabe and myself. We were really his three sons.”

Nevertheless, the 1930s were hardly a lost decade. In retrospect, for the Doriots and the rest of the nation, it was a time for hunkering down, for planting seeds that could be harvested in the future. Indeed, the years of the Great Depression hold the answer to another great mystery of Doriot’s life: How did a man with hardly any experience running a business come to be such a world-class businessman?

The answer is that during those years, dozens of companies hired the professor to help guide them through the worst disaster that had ever hit the American economy. In that dark decade, Doriot gained a lifetime of experience as an officer, director, and consultant.

Between 1932 and 1941, when he was called up to join the military, Doriot served on the boards of twenty companies, while taking on executive-level positions in ten other firms. It was an astonishing volume of outside work that would never be allowed in today’s age of vigilant corporate governance.

In addition, in 1940 Doriot was elected to take over the presidency of the struggling McKeesport Tin Plate Corporation, where he promptly put the company on firmer footing by negotiating the sale of its tin plate division to steelmaker Jones & Laughlin. Tending to all these companies, Doriot was like a circus artist juggling a dozen balls while walking a tightrope. Would he pull off the balancing act or would he lose his balance and come crashing back to earth? (more…)

Creative Capital: More Book Party Pics

November 11, 2008

I got a few more pictures from the book party. Some are from HighBar and others are from the after-party when a bunch of us headed uptown and went to the Bear Bar to help shut down that Upper West Side institution. In case you can’t tell, the Bear Bar is the divey looking place with the wood paneling that was prevalent in suburban basements during the 1970s.

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.

Fostering Creative Workplaces: Lessons from Georges Doriot

October 14, 2008

Today, The Creative Group, a professional staffing company that specializes in placing skilled folks in advertising, marketing, web and public relations industries, ran an interview with me about Creative Capital in their online pub eZine.

In the Q&A, we talked about a number of relevant issues for today’s creative class, such as what traits make a person successful, and how organizations can promote creativity and risk-taking.

Here’s the intro and first question and answer. Check out the rest of the interview here.

In Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital, Spencer E. Ante tells the compelling story of the quirky and charismatic man – Georges Doriot – who created the venture capital industry. Through tracing the pivotal events in Doriot’s life, Ante paints the picture of a man who overturned conventional wisdom and achieved extraordinary success by relentlessly pursing what-if possibilities. The book has received positive reviews in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other places.

We sat down with Ante to talk about his book and what today’s entrepreneurs, managers and creative professionals can learn from Doriot:

The Creative Group: “In the introduction to Creative Capital, you say Georges Doriot ‘exuded a magnetic aura’ and was ‘one of the most charismatic characters I had ever come across.’ Do you believe it takes a certain kind of person to successfully dream up and execute good ideas? In other words, what defining traits or skills did Doriot possess that helped him to achieve such great success?”

Spencer Ante: “For one, Doriot was incredibly ambitious from a very young age. He was inspired by his family and friends to achieve the best. My book opens with a story where Doriot runs home to show his parents a certificate he got for placing second in his class. While his mother congratulates him, his dad asks, ‘Why not first?’ – the moral being that it wasn’t important that his son come in first, but that he shouldn’t settle for less than the best. Doriot was influenced by this event for the rest of his life.

“Doriot was also an incredibly hard worker. He grew up during World War I and his family was quite devastated. This gave him a sense of hard work and the understanding that you don’t get something for nothing.

“Finally, he had a sense of creativity and was one of the first people in the industry to recognize the value of creativity – trying to do something different. He was a big believer in the power of design in life and business, and recognized, well ahead of his time, the role design plays in how people interpret and value the world.

“In fact, early in his career, he became friends with Henry Dreyfuss, a famous industrial designer. When Doriot was a professor at Harvard Business School, he invited Dreyfuss to talk to his class about the value of design. Later, he even asked Dreyfuss to create the annual reports for his venture capital company.”

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.



Personal Branding Blog Plugs Creative Capital

August 12, 2008

Dan Schawbel, operator of the Personal Branding Blog, yesterday recommended my book along with a few other titles. Check out his blog and review by clicking here.

Next spring, Dan has his own book coming out. Says his site: “My book is on personal branding (go figure!) and is targeted at Gen-Y/millennials/students who are trying to figure out how to get the job of the their dreams, without desperately applying for jobs.”

I’ve been told repeatedly that young people no longer read books. Perhaps Dan’s plug of Creative Capital will prove them wrong!

A Reader Has Spoken: Four Stars, Says Serge J. Van Steenkiste

August 5, 2008

Just got a nice and new review today on from a prolific reviewer named Serge J. Van Steenkiste.

The Unexpected Father of Venture Capitalism , August 4, 2008
By Serge J. Van Steenkiste (Atlanta, GA) – See all my reviews

Spencer Ante sheds a powerful light on the life and accomplishments of a foreigner who came alone to the U.S. in 1921 C.E. That man had neither family nor friends at his arrival. Furthermore, he never graduated from college in his native country. On top of that, that man was not rolling in money. The WWI had wiped out his father financially.

However, that foreigner had some assets: a strong Protestant work ethic, a passion for technology and the future, a confident yet humble personality that was at ease with people of all stations in life, a strong volubility, a sense of compassion, and a deep understanding of the importance of education. Furthermore, that same foreigner wanted to run one day his own company after the example of his father.

Who would have bet in 1921 that such a foreigner would one day become:

1) Arguably the most influential and popular professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business;
2) The driver behind the foundation of INSEAD, one of the leading business schools in the world;
3) The man who played a key role in the well-being of the American soldiers during WWII by spearheading to their benefit a quite revolution in engineering;
4) And last but not least, the father of the venture financing industry as we know it today around the world.

That foreigner was a Frenchman and his name was Georges Doriot. As it is often the case, an extraordinary woman, who remained mostly in the background, was part of that story. Her name was Edna Allen and she was American.

To summarize, Ante succeeds in bringing back to light a man whose contributions deserve to be better known, especially, in business circles.