If everything related to business on the Net weren’t turning topsy turvy every six months or so, Riding Venture Capital from High Tech Start-Up to Breakout IPO ($27, Bloomberg Press, Nov. ’99), would be destined to become a classic how-to on the level of The Joy of Cooking. But with things spinning at Net speed, Harmon will have to be satisfied with having written one of the most useful short-shelf-life business books around.
After an introduction by the caliph of capitalism himself, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ John Doerr, Harmon takes us through the steps of acquiring venture capital, from getting the VC’s attention to how to negotiate your company’s valuation. In between, Harmon offers helpful Q&A interviews with VC decisionmakers such as Doerr, Hummer Winblad’s Ann Winblad, VC/Business 2.0 contributor J. Neil Weintraut, and others. But what makes the book most useful is that it tells you what VCs want to hear, in the language in which they want to hear it. Problem is, six months from now they’ll probably want to hear something completely different. Maybe Harmon should keep his book updated on the Web.
Forbes ASAP editor Karen Southwick just keeps pounding ‘em out. In May, Southwick brought out Silicon Gold Rush, a short, sharp look at some of Silicon Valley’s movers and shakers (see “Silicon Prospecting,” May ’99, p148). Now, less than six months later, the erstwhile Upside magazine and Upside Books editor tosses off High Noon. As its subtitle implies, High Noon follows in-depth the tremulous nascence, pimply adolescence, and surging adulthood of one of the most religiously contrarian companies in computing and its charismatic CEO. In exchange for unprecedented access, Southwick gives Sun — the company that brought us SPARC, Java, and Jini; tackled Microsoft head-on; and is, by most accounts, poised to redefine concepts of network computing — the royal treatment. If anything, the book is too gung-ho for the company, as Southwick seems to have soaked up a few of Sun PR’s own reality-distortion rays. But it’s a solid history nevertheless.
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