I just finished Randall E. Stross’ book about the founders of Benchmark Capital and the high days in the late nineties - eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work. This book was interesting and illustrated some important decisions made by initial investments in for example eBay.
However, a book about early investments published in year 2000 lacks the ending we all have experienced including a bursting bubble and the worst recession since the 1930’s.
While reading about the huge potential about the investment case of Webvan I was just waiting for the inside reactions and decisions faced when the business model didn’t live up to its expectations. Unfortunately the book finished in the time when Webvan was still a huge success and was about to take over the world and change the way we see retail. Today we know Webvan didn’t change anything except making its investors pockets’ smaller.
This is the problem with printed books. You cannot edit nor adjust nor complement with new facts. I wouldn’t have removed any sections of the book, but I would love to read the following chapters which to me is more interesting! Today Benchmark doesn’t mention the Webvan case on their website. Are they ashamed? I would assume the lost capital must come with many lessons learned and shouldn’t be something you need to hide of… even if it is rated as one of the biggest investments losses of all time.
And by the way, other books have experienced a similar fate of outdated and changed realities. One example is Jim Collin’s highly rated and excellent book Good to Great where you read about the outstanding company Fannie May, which went from good to great to… disaster.
But hey, if you never speak you don’t exist!