July 25, 2000
Staff Picks: Jack Covert Selects - eBoys
eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work Randall E. Stross, Crown Business, 315 pages, $25.95 Hardcover ISBN 0812930959 How can I lead off my inaugural list of important new books with anything but the book that saw fit to feature my comments on the jacket of the finished book? ("eBoys is a terrifically written account of venture capitalists in action, financing the investor dreams or nightmares of the future with high-flying e-business companies like Webvan and eBay and more.") Seriously, this book is a great read. Randall Stross, author of The Microsoft Way and Bulls in the China Shop, is a superb storyteller, and the guys from Benchmark Partners have many stories to tell. If Michael Lewiss The New New Thing was the one book to read for the first half of this year, I think this is the succeeding must-read story. A true story, eBoys tells the tale of venture capitalists and start-ups whose balance sheets would be considered a joke a few years ago. Consider this: Louis Borders Webvans sales for the first six months of 1999 were $395,000, the actual cost of the groceries he sold was $419,000, and he posted a loss of $35 million! $35 million on sales of $395,000! That gives him serious room to improve. The author was allowed to listen to the deliberations between these six men as they decide whom they will fund and whom they wont. Real fly-on-the-wall stuff. I also think the story about how eBay kept its ethical center was heartwarming in this world of take the money and run. Great summer read.