100 books like VC

By Tom Nicholas,

Here are 100 books that VC fans have personally recommended if you like VC. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

I deeply appreciate the way that Lécuyer undermines the myth that a few genius entrepreneurs and venture capitalists invented Silicon Valley from nothing.

He documents the pre-history of Silicon Valley, showing how the “ham radio” operators of the early 20th Century found support from the U.S. Navy to build a micro-electronics industry in the San Francisco Bay Area before World War II. A skilled technical workforce was available when, partly by chance and partly through the initiative of Stanford’s Dean of Engineering, Frederick Terman (himself a radio engineer), the semiconductor industry found its home.

By Christophe Lecuyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Silicon Valley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Making Silicon Valley, Christophe Lécuyer shows that the explosive growth of the personal computer industry in Silicon Valley was the culmination of decades of growth and innovation in the San Francisco-area electronics industry. Using the tools of science and technology studies, he explores the formation of Silicon Valley as an industrial district, from its beginnings as the home of a few radio enterprises that operated in the shadow of RCA and other East Coast firms through its establishment as a center of the electronics industry and a leading producer of power grid tubes, microwave tubes, and semiconductors. He traces…


Book cover of The Power of Creative Destruction: Economic Upheaval and the Wealth of Nations

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

Philippe Aghion has been one of the pioneers in the development of “Schumpeterian Growth Theory” to model the process of Creative Destruction” that drives technological innovation and economic growth. This is an accessible presentation of the dynamics of the model and the observable consequences in the real world.  

I have found it essential for teaching my course on Venture Capital and the Economics of Innovation.

By Philippe Aghion, Celine Antonin, Simon Bunel , Jodie Cohen-Tanugi (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power of Creative Destruction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hayek Book Prize Finalist
An Economist Best Book of the Year
A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year
A Financial Times Summer Reading Favorite

"Sweeping, authoritative and-for the times-strikingly upbeat...The overall argument is compelling and...it carries a trace of Schumpeterian subversion."
-The Economist

"[An] important book...Lucid, empirically grounded, wide-ranging, and well-argued."
-Martin Wolf, Financial Times

"Offers...much needed insight into the sources of economic growth and the kinds of policies that will promote it...All in Washington would do well to read this volume carefully."
-Milton Ezrati, Forbes

Inequality is on the rise, growth stagnant, the environment in crisis. Covid seems…


Book cover of Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

The theoretical work of Aghion and his colleagues is complemented by Breznitz's empirical examination of how a disparate set of innovative economies actually function and of the alternative bases for the competitive achievements. 

I discovered Dan Breznitz's fieldwork on innovation first from his book on China, The Run of the Red Queenand then his comparative analysis of the different paths along which Israel, Taiwan, and Ireland moved from peasant levels of development to the technological frontier. He provides an essential complement to the more theoretical analysis of Aghion and his colleagues.

By Dan Breznitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Innovation in Real Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A challenge to prevailing ideas about innovation and a guide to identifying the best growth strategy for your community.

Across the world, cities and regions have wasted trillions of dollars on blindly copying the Silicon Valley model of growth creation. Since the early years of the information age, we've been told that economic growth derives from harnessing technological innovation. To do this, places must create good education systems, partner with local research universities, and attract innovative hi-tech firms. We have lived with this system for decades, and the result is clear: a small number of regions and cities at the…


Book cover of Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

Jon Levy provides a hugely creative account of American history through the evolution of its distinctive institution, capitalism.

He relates the unstable dynamics of financial markets to the waves of investment in real capital incorporating innovative technologies and never loses sight of the tension between power accumulated and expressed in markets and the distribution of political power, always attentive to how the former can take over control of the latter.

Levy’s work has enriched my own understanding of this contested history.

By Jonathan Levy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ages of American Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A leading economic historian traces the evolution of American capitalism from the colonial era to the present—and argues that we’ve reached a turning point that will define the era ahead.

“A monumental achievement, sure to become a classic.”—Zachary D. Carter, author of The Price of Peace

In this ambitious single-volume history of the United States, economic historian Jonathan Levy reveals how capitalism in America has evolved through four distinct ages and how the country’s economic evolution is inseparable from the nature of American life itself. The Age of Commerce spans the colonial era through the outbreak of the Civil War,…


Book cover of The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur

Kathleen Allen Author Of Entrepreneurship For Dummies

From my list on inspiring you to get off your butt and start a business.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a real passion for entrepreneurship, so much so that I married an entrepreneur and produced two children who became entrepreneurs. During my 25 years as a professor in the Greif Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Southern California, one of the top programs in the U.S., I had the privilege of inspiring and mentoring hundreds of new entrepreneurs. I found my passion in technology businesses. I had the business skills needed to help scientists and engineers raise funding, bring their inventions to market, and build their companies. I managed to start and run four ventures of my own as well as write several books about entrepreneurship.

Kathleen's book list on inspiring you to get off your butt and start a business

Kathleen Allen Why did Kathleen love this book?

I absolutely love this book! It’s an easy read, reads like a novel, but it’s packed with very valuable lessons on entrepreneurship, venture capital, and leadership.

The story is told through a conversation between a venture capitalist (Komisar) and two young entrepreneurs who are planning to start a business for all the wrong reasons. It’s humorous, touching, and very entertaining. I laughed a lot.

In the end, you learn that a business needs much more than nuts and bolts. It needs heart and soul.

Equally as important as what you learn about startups, the story will teach you how to avoid the Deferred Life Plan, putting off what you want to do, and instead live your life with passion.

By Randy Komisar, Kent Lineback,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Monk and the Riddle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book describes how one Silicon Valley insider has blazed a path of professional - and personal - success playing the game by his own rules. Silicon Valley is filled with garage-to-riches stories and hot young entrepreneurs with big ideas. Yet even in this place where the exceptional is common, Randy Komisar is a breed apart. Currently a "Virtual CEO" who provides "leadership on demand" for several renowned companies, Komisar was recently described by the "Washington Post" as a "combined professional mentor, minister without portfolio, in-your-face investor, trouble-shooter and door opener." But even more interesting than what he does is…


Book cover of Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed--and What to Do about It

Cyril Demaria Author Of Introduction to Private Equity, Debt and Real Assets: From Venture Capital to LBO, Senior to Distressed Debt, Immaterial to Fixed Assets

From my list on private equity in practice and peek behind the scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

The financing of private firms is fascinating and a bit mysterious. It remains misunderstood and regularly gives birth to hype and excesses. I started my career working for a venture capital fund at the top of the Internet financial bubble, in 2000. This experience has imprinted my career and derailed my ambitions. It also fueled my thirst for knowledge. I started from essentially a virgin theoretical and academic land. I developed a body of practical and academic knowledge. Writing and publishing my books seemed to be the next logical step. I enjoy reading books on the sector and recommending them.

Cyril's book list on private equity in practice and peek behind the scenes

Cyril Demaria Why did Cyril love this book?

There is only one Silicon Valley – and there can only be one.

Harvard Professor Josh Lerner debunks enduring myths about replicating the success of this unique cluster dedicated to information technologies. He describes the different unsuccessful attempts of doing so by various public authorities and governments, and draws the lessons of such attempts.

He also identifies what are the conditions of successful local attempts to develop industrial clusters. In this context, this book provides a solid background to readers eager to understand the background of the emergence and development of private companies thanks to a complex web of interactions between public and private initiatives.

By Josh Lerner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boulevard of Broken Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Silicon Valley, Singapore, and Tel Aviv - the global hubs of entrepreneurial activity all bear the marks of government investment. Yet, for every public intervention that spurs entrepreneurial activity, there are many failed efforts that waste untold billions in taxpayer dollars. When has governmental sponsorship succeeded in boosting growth, and when has it fallen terribly short? Should the government be involved in such undertakings at all? "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is the first extensive look at the ways governments have supported entrepreneurs and venture capitalists across decades and continents. Josh Lerner, one of the foremost experts in the field, provides…


Book cover of The Multi-Hyphen Life: Work Less, Create More, and Design a Life That Works for You

Joy Batra Author Of The Freelance Mindset: Unleashing Your Side Hustles for Better Work, Play, and Life

From my list on freelancers, side hustlers, and portfolio careerists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into freelancing when I unexpectedly got the opportunity to act in Bollywood after graduating from law school and business school. With six figure student loans, I needed to make money and still have time for auditions. Enter freelancing! A decade later, I’ve helped other people expand beyond their day jobs, change careers, or tap into a different skillset, and I’ve collected stories of over fifty freelancers who are doing the same. I hope these books inspire and support you as you venture off the beaten path to create a career that’s just right for you!

Joy's book list on freelancers, side hustlers, and portfolio careerists

Joy Batra Why did Joy love this book?

This book made me feel seen.

There’s something so surreal about going from having one very specific job title at a company to having multiple jobs when you start getting more serious about your side hustles. This book made me realize I’m not alone in having more than one career at the same time, while also teaching me why this is a smart decision and how to get better at it.

Plus, the book is funny and incredibly easy to read. Emma Gannon has no idea who I am, but I feel like she’s my new best friend after reading this. 

By Emma Gannon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Multi-Hyphen Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you've been itching to convert your craft into a career, your side-hustle into a start-up, or just want to think about work-life balance in a new way, then The Multi-Hyphen Life is for you.

In The Multi-Hyphen Life, award-winning British author-podcaster Emma Gannon explains that it doesn't matter if you're a part-time PA with a blog, or an accountant who runs an online store in the evenings—whatever your ratio, whatever your mixture, we can all channel our own entrepreneurial spirit to live more fulfilled and financially healthy lives.

Technology allows us to work wherever, whenever, and enables us to…


Book cover of The Theory of Dynamic Efficiency

Philipp Bagus Author Of Blind Robbery! How the Fed, Banks and Government Steal Our Money

From my list on Austrian economics.

Why am I passionate about this?

In high school I became interested in politics and economics. Soon I found the Austrian school and decided to make it my profession. I went to the US to study Austrian economics and later to Spain to study with Prof. Huerta de Soto. Finally, I became a Professor of Economics myself, teaching and writing in the tradition of the Austrian School. 

Philipp's book list on Austrian economics

Philipp Bagus Why did Philipp love this book?

This book contains some of the most important articles written by Jesús Huerta de Soto, one of the leading Austrian economists.

I have come to live in Spain to study with Jesús Huerta de Soto. The quality of each one of these essays is extraordinary. I recommend to everyone interested in Austrian economics to study this book in depth.

Huerta de Soto is one of the leading Austrian economists living. His works are very creative and this book gives an overview of his impressive work on a wide range of subjects.

By Jesus Huerta De Soto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Theory of Dynamic Efficiency as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book gathers a collection of English language essays by Jesus Huerta de Soto over the past ten years, examining the dynamic processes of social cooperation which characterize the market, with particular emphasis on the role of both entrepreneurship and institutions. The author's multidisciplinary approach to the subject is in keeping with a trend in economic thought established by the Austrian school of economics; a discourse that had witnessed a significant revival over the last thirty years.

Areas covered in this book include an introduction to the theory of dynamic efficiency as an alternative to the standard paretian criteria, an…


Book cover of The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup

Simon Court Author Of Founder's Legacy: 50 Game-Changing Leadership Lessons for Building a Great Business

From my list on books for founders trying to be in the 10% of businesses that succeed.

Why am I passionate about this?

For the last 25 years, I have been a coach to business founders, leaders, and leadership teams. My work has taken me to every continent from my base in London. A lot of my work is done behind closed doors, but I have been instrumental in building two unicorns in the last decade. I’m a founder myself and have always been fascinated by what it takes to succeed as a founder. I have a powerful conviction that learning to lead is the heart of it. The books I love are either based on real-world research or deeply practical and based on hands-on experience. Practice trumps theory every time in my world!

Simon's book list on books for founders trying to be in the 10% of businesses that succeed

Simon Court Why did Simon love this book?

I like this book because it’s based on mining quantitative data on almost ten thousand founders, not only anecdotal experience.

There is a lot of debate about the importance of co-founders and not trying to ‘go it alone.’ According to Noam, 65 percent of startups fail because of co-founder conflict. I find that super interesting, and it emphasizes why, if you want success, you’ve got to pick your co-founder(s) wisely. The same is true of the management team as well of course. 

By Noam Wasserman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Founder's Dilemmas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: should they go it alone, or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising venture lay the foundations for its eventual ruin. The Founder's Dilemmas is the first book to examine the early decisions by entrepreneurs that can make or break a startup and its team. Drawing on a decade of research, Noam Wasserman…


Book cover of Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution: A Handbook for Entrepreneurs

Uri Adoni Author Of The Unstoppable Startup: Mastering Israel's Secret Rules of Chutzpah

From my list on startup entrepreneurs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love innovation! In today’s world, a lot on the innovation is coming from startups who are challenging the status quo and the existing solutions, and trying to offer a new product or service. Being a venture capitalist for many years, I’ve seen thousands of motivated entrepreneurs as well as highly innovative startups, but unfortunately most of them fail. The books I recommend, all share advice from highly experienced and successful entrepreneurs, enabling new entrepreneurs to learn from their experience. These books are not theoretical ones but rather very practical, so any entrepreneur can adopt operational advice as well as an entrepreneurial mindset that has proven to lead to success. 

Uri's book list on startup entrepreneurs

Uri Adoni Why did Uri love this book?

Uri Levine is an amazing serial entrepreneur.

He founded numerous successful startups, and Waze is probably the most famous one. Uri shares his vast entrepreneurial experience, in a practical, straight forward and smart manner. He touches upon every aspect of building and running a startup - all the way from addressing the problem you want to solve, recruiting the right people, fund raising, scaling globally and more.  

By Uri Levine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unicorns—companies that reach a valuation of more than $1 billion—are rare. Uri Levine has built two.

And in Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution, he shows you just how he did it.

As the cofounder of Waze—the world’s leading commuting and navigation app with more than 700 million users to date, and which Google acquired in 2013 for $1.15 billion—Levine is committed to spreading entrepreneurial thinking so that other founders, managers, and employees in the tech space can build their own highly valued companies.
 
Levine offers an inside look at the creation and sale of Waze and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in entrepreneurs, innovation, and Silicon Valley?

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