VC: An American History (Hardback)
  • VC: An American History (Hardback)

VC: An American History (Hardback)

Hardback 400 Pages
Published: 09/07/2019
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A major exploration of venture financing, from its origins in the whaling industry to Silicon Valley, that shows how venture capital created an epicenter for the development of high-tech innovation.

VC tells the riveting story of how the industry arose from the United States’ long-running orientation toward entrepreneurship. Venture capital has been driven from the start by the pull of outsized returns through a skewed distribution of payoffs—a faith in low-probability but substantial financial rewards that rarely materialize. Whether the gamble is a whaling voyage setting sail from New Bedford or the newest startup in Silicon Valley, VC is not just a model of finance that has proven difficult to replicate in other countries. It is a state of mind exemplified by an appetite for risk-taking, a bold spirit of adventure, and an unbridled quest for improbable wealth through investment in innovation.

Tom Nicholas’s history of the venture capital industry offers readers a ride on the roller coaster of setbacks and success in America’s pursuit of financial gain.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674988002
Number of pages: 400
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm


[An] incisive history of the venture-capital industry. - New Yorker

A detailed, fact-filled account of America’s most celebrated moneymen…It provides a valuable look into their world…Nicholas is at his best when he is charting just how reliant venture capital has been on the government—and just how far the industry has gone to try and shape government policy in its favor. - Avi Asher-Schapiro, New Republic

An excellent and original economic history of venture capital. - Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

Though it’s no secret that Pentagon money helped Silicon Valley to develop into a technology hub, Nicholas’s history sheds light on the less explored role of venture capital firms in bringing these new technologies to civilian markets. - Jamie Martin, Bookforum

Whatever your view of venture capitalists, it’s worth studying where they came from. I had a vague familiarity with the role of U.S. postwar policy in the creation of the species, but I learned a lot more from Nicholas. And I’d never thought about their precursors in the old whaling industry! - Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg Opinion

Not only an insightful study of an asset class but a fascinating history which touches on fundamental questions of political economy. VC is distinctive mainly because it offers such a long view of venture capital’s evolution…[It] offers many lessons for attentive readers, explaining not only the present features of the venture landscape but also how we might address some of the widely recognized problems facing the U.S. economy today. - Julius Krein, American Conservative

A penetrating history of the industry…I enthusiastically recommend it. - Laurence B. Siegel, Advisor Perspectives

In his extremely interesting, readable, and informative VC, Tom Nicholas tells you most everything you ever wanted to know about the history of venture capital, from the financing of the whaling industry to the present multibillion-dollar venture funds. - Arthur Rock, Arthur Rock & Co.

VC is a captivating book that casts a historical light on the contemporary landscape of venture capital. Nicholas brilliantly explains the surprising origins of the financial practices and organizational structures of the VC industry we know today. - Toby E. Stuart, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, and venture partner, Avid Park Ventures

Ralph Waldo Emerson once called America ‘the country of tomorrow,’ and Nicholas’s book does a great job of showing how venture capital, a rocket fuel for entrepreneurial risk, played a fundamental and unique role in proving Emerson right. - Mike Maples, Jr., partner, Floodgate

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