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eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work


Publisher:Ballantine Books



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About the book:

If you want to understand the 1990s, you have to understand venture capitalists. These are the people who listen to business pitches by the score, the financial-world equivalent of miners turning over tons of earth in search of precious metal. They're looking for the next, the next Yahoo!, the next eBay. Randall E. Stross, who teaches business history at San Josť State University, just happened to be there when a firm called Benchmark Capital discovered eBay. eBoys tells the story of how a group of not-quite-middle-aged men came to make an investment that returned a Silicon Valley record of 100,000 percent.

Stross is a gifted storyteller who weaves the personal histories of the Benchmark partners with stories of how the firm came to back such companies as and Webvan. We meet guys who weren't born to privilege, men who took unconventional routes into the venture capital business. Probably the most intriguing is Dave Beirne, a hyperaggressive executive recruiter who went into the business after realizing venture capitalists are the ones who really call the shots at high-tech start-ups. We also see the problems Silicon Valley guys have when they try to dot-com the bricks-and-mortar world. The short tale of an aborted partnership between Benchmark and Toys 'R' Us illustrates why the old economy is so mystified by the new.

Anyone interested in how business works should find something of interest in eBoys. From the organizational structure and corporate culture of Benchmark to the histories and personalities of its partners to its adventures in the world of Internet start-ups, it's a digital snapshot that reveals how successful businesses look, think, and mine gold in today's economy. --Lou Schuler

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