Tag: book

Mar 23 2017

Venture Deals 3rd Edition Available via Kindle Matchbook

If you have purchased the hardcopy edition of Venture Deals 3rd Edition, you can now buy the Kindle version also for $2.99 via the Amazon Kindle Matchbook program.

Jason and I have been asking our publisher (Wiley) for this for a while and we are psyched they’ve agreed to it. It came about after a number of you asked us if we were going to do this, so thanks to y’all for pushing us on it.

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Dec 27 2016

Things To Do With Your Dad And Your Brother

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that my dad Stan is one of my best friends. So is my brother Daniel. Over the last decade we’ve been doing regular things together like an annual trip (me/Dad, Daniel/Dan) and monthly dinners (me/Daniel).

Last month I proposed a new idea – a monthly book club between the three of us. We’d rotate choosing the book of the month. We’d read it separately but talk about it over the course of the month. Then, the next person would pick the next book. We’d iterate on the process – maybe we’ll end up doing a real book club video call for 30 minutes once a month to discuss, maybe we won’t.

I started off with Ben Mezrich’s newest book – The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America’s UFO HighwayI’m a huge Ben Mezrich fan and UFOs are fun. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of Ben’s better books. It was scattered with lots of time shifting back and forth. I never became entranced by the main characters and the backstory was unexpectedly shallow.

Our book club comments were short.

“It was not Ben’s best book. In fact, it was one of his worst. I felt like he mailed it in.” – Brad

“I am almost finished but it is downright boring. It going from one UFO incident to another. Big deal. Brad you are excused.” – Stan

“yep, read it in Cabo. Agree with your reviews.” – Daniel

Oh well – sometimes you start off strong, sometimes not. Daniel was up next and he choose Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I loved it when I read it in August and I’m going to get to enjoy it again in January!

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Dec 25 2016

Book: The Man in the High Castle

I had a great digital sabbath yesterday with Amy and my friends Dave and Maureen. I had a cold so I took a three hour nap in the middle of the day. For the rest of the day, I sat around in my PJs.

I read Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Amy and I loved Season 1 of the Amazon series but struggled with the first episode on Season 2 (I’m sure we’ll fight through it and watch it this week.) Since we got off to a slow start on Season 2, I decided to read the book, which I had resisted reading because I didn’t want it to confuse the TV series with the book.

Not surprisingly, I thought the book was better than the TV show. Since we loved Season 1, that’s high praise for the book. I’m a huge PKD fan and have been gradually reading all of his books.

I’ve started to be more open about my potential support of the theory that there are an infinite number of parallel universes. Reading books that cover different parallel universes, like the one where the Germans and the Japanese win World War II and split the US with the Japanese controlling the “Pacific States of America”, the Germans occupying the East Coast, and the Rocky Mountain States being a neutral buffer zone between the two countries, is – well – mind-bending.

It’s haunting, it’s challenging, it’s upsetting, and it’s enlightening.

In the evening, we chose Thirteen Days as our Christmas Eve movie. As the US and Russia walk to the edge of nuclear war during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, we sat rapt for two and a half hours even though I’ve seen this movie before. I woke up this morning to World War Three, By Mistake in the New Yorker, talking about the continued existential risk of nuclear war because of a computer error, system failure, or a hack. As part of that, I discovered that there is a Windows for Submarines (get it?) product from 2007 from Microsoft that is still in use today.

If there are an infinite number of universes, imagine what has happened in them.

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Dec 19 2016

New Things In Venture Deals v3

venture-deals-3rd-editionVenture Deals v3 (the third edition) is now shipping in both hardcover and Kindle.

If you are looking for a last minute holiday gift for your favorite entrepreneur (or lawyer, VC, or angel investor), we’ve got you covered.

Jason and I wrote the first edition of Venture Deals in 2011. When we were updating it for v3, I read every single word several times. It’s pretty cool how much it has held up over the last five years and we are delighted that it continues to be at the top of the Amazon bestseller list for Venture Capital books.

We added some new things in v3 and fixed a few things that were either unclear or wrong. This includes:

  • A new foreword from Fred Wilson of USV.
  • A second new foreword from James Park (Fitbit CEO).
  • Updates to Chapter 1: The Players
  • Additions to Chapter 8: Convertible Debt
  • A new chapter (now 9) on Crowdfunding
  • A section on Corporate Venture Capital and Strategic Investors
  • A new chapter (now 15) on Why Do Term Sheets Even Exist?
  • A new and very improved Glossary
  • Lots of little edits everywhere
  • New back cover blurbs from Mark Suster (Upfront), Bill Aulet (MIT), Heidi Roizen (DFJ), Brad Bernthal (CU Boulder), Jeff Harbach (Kauffman Fellows), and Jeff Clavier (SoftTech VC) to go along with the new cover design

Jason and I finally sprung for the VentureDeals.com domain and moved all the old AskTheVC posts over. We’ve got a lot of cleanup and updating to do on the site – that’ll happen over the next month. Then, around the end of January we’ll start rolling out the teaching guide to Venture Deals on the site along with a bunch of ancillary materials for this.

For everyone who has supported us along the way, either by purchasing a book, giving us feedback, or just helping us get smarter about doing deals, thank you.

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Dec 17 2016

Book: March

March by John LewisI had a great digital sabbath today. I was wiped out from the week so I slept until 10am, had breakfast, and then crawled back into bed with Amy until 2pm.

I spent the afternoon on the couch reading March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. It’s a comic book trilogy that is the story of the Civil Right Movement through Congressman Lewis’ eyes.

While I’m reading very little current news right now, I am reading a lot of American history. I’m in a Civil Rights phase that started with Devil in the Grove. I’m sure some of my recent work with Defy Ventures had caused me to dig in deeper into this segment of American history. I know that my reaction to the recent election is reinforcing this.

I was born in December 1965 so the Voting Rights Act had already passed. While I was born in Arkansas I grew up in Dallas, Texas so I was somewhat disconnected from the dynamics of race in the deep south and instead got to experience a different dimension of it since there is generally a Texas version of most things.

I’ve always been confused by the labels Hispanic and Latino and, after living in Boston from 1983 – 1994 and getting a dose of a totally different version of race dynamics than I’d had in Dallas, I realized my upbringing in fashionable far North Dallas was a comfortably privileged one.

Reading a book like March in 2016 helps me realize how far we’ve come as a country, but at the same time reminds me how much more we can and need to do.

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Nov 26 2016

Book: Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice

After the election, I took a break from social media. Prior to this election cycle I rarely read online news and almost never watched news on TV, so that was easy to stop as well. I needed some emotional distance from the election and decided I wanted some intellectual distance as well. So, I went back to writing and reading books during all the time that I had previously occupied myself with what passes in 2016 for real time news and current events.

Some of that writing has appeared on this blog – and will continue to appear here and on two other blogs – Venture Deals and Startup Revolution, both of which have lain fallow for a while. The third edition of Venture Deals comes out on December 12th and I feel like Jason and I made some strong updates to it. I’m working on a second edition of Startup Opportunities, which will come out sometime in Q117 and be published by Wiley since FG Press is defunct. And, I’ve started on my next book, Give First, which should come out in Q417 (again published by my friends at Wiley.)

I’ve used the past month to refocus myself on areas that I feel like I can impact. One of the primary ways I develop this frame of reference is by reading books (for the current list of what I’m reading you can always take a look at my Goodreads page.) I’m not a particularly good book ranker – so I just give five stars for “must reads”, four stars for “read if you like the topic”, and three stars for “meh – some interesting stuff here.” If I start something that I find completely uninteresting, I stop reading it and don’t post it.

In the past 24 hours I’ve read a must read. Bill Browder’s Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It reads like a John le Carré novel, except it is non-fiction. It starts out as the autobiography of Bill Browder and his creation of a massively successful hedge fund (Hermitage Capital Management) that was one of the first non-Russian investors in Russia in the mid to late 1990s. It then shifted into an incredibly complex story of intrigue, corruption, lawlessness, injustice, and murder all at the hands of the Russian political system.

I know that was a mouthful, but if you want a little taste, just read the Wikipedia page for Sergei Magnitsky which is central to the second half of the book, where Browder shifts from successful financier to international human rights activist. If you want a taste, watch the following interview with Browder.

Amy and I just finished watching The Night Manager on Amazon, which was based on John le Carré novel by the same name. I’m an optimistic person and I tend to bury my cynicism in what I read and the movies I watch. My optimism holds that the good guys eventually come out on top. I’m going to keep holding onto that notion while doing the little bit I can to help impact that outcome, especially when it means supporting people like Bill Browder. While I don’t know him, if he ever called and asked for anything, I’d be immediately responsive.

If you are looking for a powerful read over the holidays, I’d put Bill Browder’s Red Notice at the top of the list.

Update: I came across the article The Need To Read today and thought it was very appropriate for this post.

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Oct 28 2016

Venture Deals – Third Edition

venture-deals-3rd-editionThe third edition of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist is going to print and pre-orders are up on Amazon. For everyone who has purchased, read, or reviewed our previous editions, thank you! While it’s difficult to know exactly how many copies have been sold (the joy of publisher metrics), it’s around 100,000 to date, which blows our mind since we had no expectations around this when we wrote the book in 2011.

We’ve added a lot to the third edition. In addition to fixing some lingering errors, lousy grammar, and poor word choices, we found a few more places to insert Oxford commas so Amy and Ryan would be happy.

There are two new forewords – one from Fred Wilson at USV (the VC perspective) and one from James Park, CEO and co-founder of Fitbit (the entrepreneur perspective). Dick Costolo’s foreword from the previous editions is preserved – it’s now an endword.

We addressed our gender problem. In the previous editions, we used only the male gender and explained our rationalization in the introduction. This rationalization felt silly and more like an excuse this time around, so we did the work to vary the use of female and male pronouns throughout the book.

We added more information on convertible debt including a section on new financial instruments like the safe.

There are two entirely new chapters. The first, on crowdfunding, covers both product and equity crowdfunding, and has an analysis on the good, bad, and scary around crowdfunding. The second, on why term sheets even exist, came out of our realization that many of the investments we’ve made in the past few years were done with handshakes and email outline of terms, rather than term sheets.

We added a section on Corporate Venture Capital, as there has been a Cambrian explosion of CVCs over the past few years, even though the concept of a CVC is not a new one.

We freshened up some of the examples. For example, the reference to FarmVille now is a reference to Pokémon GO. It is 2016 after all.

We have new back cover blurbs and a new dedication to some special people in our lives. We like to spread the love around.

Finally, the old website AskTheVC.com is now VentureDeals.com.  As part of this, we’ll be releasing a teaching guide, lots of ancillaries, and other fun stuff that adds to the book. Yeah – we’ve got some work to do to freshen up the site and get all of this stuff out, but that’s what November is for. And yes, we’ll start blogging on it again.

Thanks to everyone for all their help, support, and interest in Venture Deals over the years. Most of all, thank you Jason for being an awesome collaborator and partner.

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Aug 28 2016

Book: A Truck Full of Money

In case you are curious, based on the feedback I got to Is Republishing To Medium Worth It?, the answer, at least for now, appears to be Yes. So, if you are reading this on Medium, enjoy!

I’m a huge Tracy Kidder fan. I read The Soul of A New Machine as a senior in high school and, even though I don’t include it in the reason I went to MIT, I’m sure it played a part. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite books, although I haven’t read it in many years. I just kindled it (and several other Tracy Kidder books I’ve decided to re-read) and expect it’ll be in my near term reading list.

About a month ago Paul English sent me an email asking me if I wanted to read an ARC of Tracy Kidder’s new book A Truck Full of MoneyPaul and I haven’t worked together, but I knew him from a distance because of Kayak, the Boston startup community, and a few interactions we’d had over the years, including a long conversation via videoconference where we talked about depression and his new company Blade.

My answer was a rapid yes after his mention of Tracy Kidder. But what really got my attention was the line in his email that follows:

“The book deals with my bipolar stuff, and your writings on depression have been meaningful to me.”

That’s about as vulnerable a sentence you will see from an entrepreneur. The idea of exposing oneself around this topic to a writer like Tracy Kidder was incredibly brave to me. So now I was doubly interested.

I read the book the day after it arrived at my office. It was five stars – off the charts awesome on many levels. I asked Paul if I could blog about it and he asked me to hold off until his publisher said it was ok to do it. It’s now ok to do so.

Tracy Kidder wrote an amazing book. Paul like many entrepreneurs, is a complex person. Kidder doesn’t dwell on the good or the bad. He shifts effortlessly between the past, present, and future. Paul is the main character, but it’s not Paul’s biography. Kayak plays a role, but so does Blade, as does Paul’s childhood and early jobs. Interleaf makes an appearance (if you remember Interleaf, you just dated yourself. If you don’t remember Interleaf, you need to go learn about it because it was a really important pre-Web and then Web-transition company.)

The book isn’t about mental health and biopolar disorder. But Paul’s struggle with it is woven throughout and by the end of the book you have a good understanding of how it has been both a positive and a negative force in Paul’s life and career. Kidder does a magnificent job of teasing out moments that create the example of bipolar disorder without pounding the reader over the head with it. All of this makes Paul a complete human rather than just an entrepreneurial machine.

In the absence of a spectacular writer, Paul’s story is a fun one to read. But Kidder brings out another layer to the story, the person, the personality, how bipolar disorder impacts Paul and everyone around him, and how they respond, adjust, and calibrate to it.

Ultimately, it’s an incredibly intimate book. While I’m very open about my life, it takes an absurd amount of courage to hand yourself over to someone like Kidder. Paul did it in the context of his own struggles with bipolar disorder, against the backdrop of a complex entrepreneurial journey, at the beginning of his next act.

The only thing I disliked about the book was the title. It’s catchy, but it doesn’t capture the complexity of the book, or the protagonist. But that’s ok – titles are hard to get right and are really just a pointer to the content of the book.

Paul – thanks for being brave enough to let yourself be the subject of a Tracy Kidder book. Tracy – while I don’t know you, know that you have a mega-fan out in the world who has read all of your books. And, if you are an entrepreneur, investor, or curious about the intersection of mental health and entrepreneurship, or just love a great non-fiction book that reads like a novel, A Truck Full of Money should be the next book you read.

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Aug 21 2016

Book: Dark Matter

An annoying thing about Twitter Search is that it’s not good enough to help me find who tweeted at me that Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is something I should read. I scrolled through my @mentions until I was annoyed after trying to search but not being able to figure out how to scope the search so I could only search @mentions = bfeld (or maybe my problem is that it should be @mentions == @bfeld).

Whoever it was – thank you! Dark Matter was awesome. It’s the first book I read Saturday as part of my decompress from the week and feel better from trying to eat yogurt maneuver that I ended up playing out throughout the day.

I love near term sci-fi. I especially love right now sci-fi – stuff that happens in current time but incorporates a scientific breakthrough that is currently being explored.

Dark Matter is all about the concept of an infinite number of parallel universes. The scientific breakthrough is the notion of quantum superposition easily explained by the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment.

The book is a magnificently fast romp that includes kidnapping, research institutions, love, family, death, religion, the nature of the universe, psychological intrigue, really complex relationship dynamics, and a whole bunch of other stuff that makes a novel irresistible to put down. There were a few plot twists that I anticipated or figured out before they came, but generally I rode the wave of the book.

If you are a sci-fi fan or just like a great action adventure novel with nerdy underpinnings, this is for you. And if you are wondering whether we are actually just part of a computer simulation, this book will help you understand that theory better.

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Jul 5 2016

High Technology Tell All Books

Tell All Books are nothing new and some of the most explosive ones of all time have already come from California (in and around Hollywood). Suddenly, tell alls are focusing on high tech companies instead of movie stars. So far this year two have been published with a lot of fanfare and I bet there are several others that are under contract from major publishing houses.

The first was Dan Lyons book Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble which is about his time at Hubspot. I love that the very first review on the Amazon page for the book is from the Los Angeles Times and says “Disrupted by Dan Lyons is the best book about Silicon Valley today” as it is indicative of the content of the book, which I’d categorize as ironic at best and notionally confused. Why? Because, ahem, Hubspot is in Boston, where the majority of Lyons’ book was based.

The second, which I gobbled down on Friday and Saturday, is Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez. This book actually takes place in Silicon Valley and we get to spend a lot of time at Y Combinator, Twitter, and Facebook.

Both books are classic tell alls, which is to say that they are juicy, salacious, sarcastic, nasty, critical, provocative, self-effacing, cringeworthy, and generally an effort in both education (“let me tell you how the world works”) and self-justification (“look at the injustice visited on me by how the world works.”) Each will titillate, depress, sadden, frustrate, and amuse you. Each will likely cause you to have conflicting feelings about the authors. I expect both authors view this as “the truth – at least my truth – is more important than being liked.” Or maybe they just got healthy advances from their respective publishers (Hachette and Harper).

While I have no interest in debating either Lyons’ or Martinez’s personal truth, I fell like their excessive cynicism and general loathing of most of the people they worked with undermined their stories. While big swaths of each books were fun to read, some parts of them didn’t ring true to me, especially in the case of Lyons, where I felt like I was reading the words of a sad and angry person trying to justify – in hindsight – what had happened to him. Occasionally there would be a bright spot and I’d feel like the story had turned a corner and was going to have some positive content, but in both cases they turned dark quickly again.

Having read my share of tell alls over the year, including some that were passed off as autobiographies, I mostly feel sad – sometimes for the writer and sometimes for all the people in his way. I hope that the process of writing the tell all gives some release and closure on what clearly was an unpleasant and unfulfilling life experience. Or, I’m hopeful it leads to more enlightenment, or a more satisfying role in life for the person, as it appears it has for Dan Lyons from a casual read of his blog.

I don’t know Lyons or Martinez, but I know plenty of people in each of their books. Sometimes I share their view of the people they write about. Other times I don’t. But I kept searching for some optimism somewhere in each of these books and found none. Ultimately, that is what disappointed me about each of the books.

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