The ultimate primer on venture capital and silicon valley

It’s Covid-lockdown-time and (quite a few) people have a little bit more time to read and think about things. I finally came around to work further on this list which is essentially the reading list for my book on the ethics of venture capital so far (see my other Medium posts for more on that topic). It will be updated on an ongoing basis and I very much value suggestions (find me on Twitter).

I am going through different genres here (that’s the different subheadings): from history and (high quality) journalism to VCs’ own writing, Techlash literature, Memoirs and ultimately a long list of economics papers. The only thing you might be missing is guidebooks à la ‘How to get into venture capital’.

Where possible, I am providing a link to the publisher behind the title. My favourites are marked with an *. Enjoy.

History of Silicon Valley and Venture Capital

Ante, Spencer E. 2008. . Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Arthur, W. B. . London: Penguin, 2010.

Becker, Ralf, and Thomas Hellmann. “The Genesis of Venture Capital — Lessons from the German Experience.” CESifo Working Paper, 2003.

Berlin, Leslie. . New York: Simon & Schuster Inc, 2018.

Colin, Nicolas. “A Brief History of the World (of Venture Capital).” , 2016.

Fischer, Adam. . London: Twelve, 2018.

Gompers, Paul, and Josh Lerner. “The Venture Capital Revolution.” 15, no. 2 (2001): 145–68.

Isaacson, Walter. . New York: Simon & Schuster Inc, 2015.

Lécuyer, Christophe. 2006. . Boston, MA: MIT Press.

*Nicholas, Tom. . Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019.

*O’Mara, Margaret. . New York: Penguin Random House, 2019.

Perez, Carlota. . New York: E. Elgar Pub, 2002.

Journalistic writing (selection)

Gupta, Udayan. . Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2000.

Kaplan, David. . New York: William Morrow, 1999.

Lewis, Michael. . New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2014.

Mulcahy, Diane. 2013. “Six Myths about Venture Capital.” .

O’Reilly, Tim. “The Fundamental Problem with Silicon Valley’s Favorite Growth Strategy.” , 2019.

Rivlin, Gary. . New York: Simon & Schuster Inc, 2019.

Romans, Andrew. 2013. . New York: McGraw-Hill.

Shah, Tarang, and Sheetal Shah. . New York: Apress, 2011.

Stross, Randall E. . New York: Crown Business, 2000.

Wolfe, Alexandra. . 2017.

Zider, Bob. “How Venture Capital Works.” . 1998.

VCs writing about themselves

Doerr, John. . London and New York: Penguin, 2018.

Draper, William. . New York: St Martin’s Green, 2011.

Feld, Brad, and Jason Mendelson. 2013. . London: Wiley.

Horowitz, Ben. 2014. . New York: Harper Business.

Hoffman, Reid. . New York: HarperCollins, 2018.

*Janeway, William H. 2012. . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*Kupor, Scott. . New York: Virgin Books, 2019.


Bridle, James. . London; New York: Verso, 2019.

Carreyrou, John. . New York: Picador, 2018.

*Chang, Emily. . New York: Penguin, 2018.

*Foroohar, Rana. . London: Allen Lane, 2019.

Galloway, Scott. . New York: Random House, 2017.

*Greene, Lucie. . Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2018.

Issac, Mike. . New York: Norton and Company, 2019.

McNamee, Roger. . New York: Harper Collins, 2019.

Prassl, Jeremias. . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Ravenelle, Alexandrea J. . Oakland: University of California Press, 2019.

Rosenblat, Alex. . Oakland: University of California Press, 2019.

Taplin, Jonathan. . London: Macmillan, 2017.

Zuboff, Shoshana. . New York: Profile Books, 2018.


Fowler, Susan. . London: Penguin, 2020.

Frier, Sarah. . New York: Simon & Schuster Inc, 2020.

Komisar, Randy. . Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, n.d.

*Lui, Wendy. . London: Repeater Books, 2020.

Martinez, Antonio Garcia. . New York: Harper, 2016.

Pao, Ellen. . New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2017.

Wiener, Anna. . New York: MCD, 2020.

‘New Silicon Valleys’

Bayrasli, Elmira. . New York: Publicaffairs, 2015.

Feld, Brad. . New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

Hwang, Victor, and Greg Horowitt. . New York: Regenwald, 2012.

Lazarow, Alex. . Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2020.

Lee, Kai-Fu. . New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.

Schroeder, Christopher. . New York: Griffin, 2014.

Economics scholarship

Gornall, Will, and Ilya Strebulaev. “The Economic Impact of Venture Capital: Evidence from Public Companies.” Working Papers, 2015.

Dutta, Supradeep, Timothy B Folta, Vikas Aggarwal, Tim Cason, Gary Dushnitsky, Dan Elfenbein, David Hsu, et al. “A Comparison of the Effect of Angels and Venture Capitalists on Innovation and Value Creation.” 31 (2016): 39–54.

Ewens, Michael, Ramana Nanda, Matthew Rhodes-Kropf, Shai Bernstein, Tony Cookson, Marco Da Rin, Lora Dimitrova, et al. “Cost of Experimentation and the Evolution of Venture Capital.” NBER Working Paper Series, 2018.

Ferrary, Michel, and Mark Granovetter. “The Role of Venture Capital Firms in Silicon Valley’s Complex Innovation Network.” 38, no. 2 (2009): 326–59.

Haines, Julia Katherine. “Meaningful Innovation: Ethnographic Potential in the Startup and Venture Capital Spheres.” , 2016, 90–115.

Kortum, Samuel, and Josh Lerner. “Assessing the Contribution of Venture Capital to Innovation.” 31, no. 4 (2000): 674–92.

Samila, Sampsa, and Olav Sorenson. “Venture Capital, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Growth.” 93, no. 1 (2011): 338–49.

Andres, Rene. “Venture Capitalists’ Decision-Making in Later-Stage Ventures.” Universität Trier, 2018.

Bottazzi, Laura, Marco Da Rin, and Thomas F. Hellmann. “The Importance of Trust for Investment: Evidence Form Venture Capital.” 29, no. 9 (2016): 2283–2318.

Brunner, Frances. “A Case Study of Qualitative Factors in Making Venture Capital Investment Decisions.” Texas State University, 2017.

Espenlaub, Susanne, Arif Khurshed, and Abdulkadir Mohamed. “The Exit Behavior of Venture Capital Firms.” , 2008.

Fried, Vance H., Robert D. Hisrich, and Amy Polonchek. “Research Note : Venture Capitalists ’ Investment Criteria: A Replication.” 3, no. 1 (1993): 37–42.

Gompers, Paul A., Will Gornall, Steven N. Kaplan, and Ilya A. Strebulaev. “How Do Venture Capitalists Make Decisions?” , 2016.

Hsu, David H. “Experienced Entrepreneurial Founders, Organizational Capital, and Venture Capital Funding.” 36, no. 5 (2007): 722–41.

Janeway, William H. 2012. . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kaplan, Steven N., and Per Stromberg. “Venture Capitalists as Principals Contracting, Screening, and, Monitoring.” , no. 8202 (2001).

Kaplan, Steven N, Berk A Sensoy, and P Omberg. “Should Investors Bet on the Jockey or the Horse ? Evidence from the Evolution of Firms from Early.” LXIV, no. 4 (2009): 75–115.

Khanna, Poonam, Lemaro Thompson, and Michael McDonald. “Research on Venture Capital Firms’ Investment Behaviour: A Review.” University of Texas at San Antonio Working Paper Series, 2015.

Macmillan, Ian C, Robin Siegel, and P N Subba Narasimha. “Criteria Used by VCs to Evaluate New Venture Proposals.” 128 (1985): 119–28.

Mitteness, Cheryl R., Melissa S. Baucus, and Richard Sudek. “Horse vs. Jockey? How Stage of Funding Process and Industry Experience Affect the Evaluations of Angel Investors.” 14, no. 4 (2012): 241–67.

Shepherd, Dean A. “Venture Capitalists’ Assessment of New Venture Survival.” 45, no. 5 (1999): 621–32.

Terjesen, Siri, Pankaj C. Patel, James O. Fiet, and Rodney D’Souza. “Normative Rationality in Venture Capital Financing.” 33, no. 8–9 (2013): 255–64.

Balen, Timo van, Murat Tarakci, and Ashish Sood. “Do Disruptive Visions Pay Off? The Impact of Disruptive Entrepreneurial Visions on Venture Funding.” 56, no. 2 (2019): 303–42.

Amornsiripanitch, Natee, Paul A. Gompers, and Yuhai Xuan. “More than Money: Venture Capitalists on Boards.” , 2015.

Bernstein, Shai, Xavier Giroud, and Richard Townsend. “The Impact of Venture Capital Monitoring.” 71, no. 4 (2016): 1591–1622.

Busenitz, Lowell W., James O. Fiet, and Douglas D. Moesel. “Reconsidering the Venture Capitalists’ ‘Value Added’ Proposition: An Interorganizational Learning Perspective.” 19, no. 6 (2004): 787–807.

Carver, Lorenzo. . London, New York: Wiley, 2011.

Cumming, Douglas, Grant Fleming, and Jo Ann Suchard. . . Vol. 29, 2005.

Gornall Ilya Strebulaev, William A, Nicholas Crain, Michael Ewens, Joe Grundfest, Sabrina Howell, Steve Kaplan, Arthur Korteweg, et al. “Squaring Venture Capital Valuations with Reality.” NBER Working Paper Series, 2017.

Kaiser, Kevin, and Christian Westarp. “Value Creation in the Private Equity and Venture Capital Industry.” INSEAD Working Paper Series, 2010.

Pratch, Leslie. “Value-Added Investing: A Framework for Early Stage Venture Capital Firms.” 8, no. 3 (2005): 13–29.

Teten, David, Adham AbbdelFattah, Koen Bremer, and Gyorg Buslig. “The Lower-Risk Startup: How Venture Capitalists Increase the Odds of Startup Success.” , 2013, 7–19.

Axelson, Ulf, and Milan Martinovic. “European Venture Capital: Myths and Facts,” LSE Working Paper, 2015.

Cohen, Susan, and Yael V. Hochberg. “Accelerating Startups: The Seed Accelerator Phenomenon.” , 2014.

Cohen, Susan, Daniel C. Fehder, Yael V. Hochberg, and Fiona Murray. “The Design of Startup Accelerators.” , no. March (2019): 1–17.

Elango, B., Vance H Fried, Robert D Hisrich, and Amy Polonchek. “How Venture Capital Funds Differ.” 10, no. 2 (1995): 157–70.

Ewens, Michael, and Matthew Rhodes-kropf. “Is a VC Partnership Greater Than the Sum of Its Partners ? Is a VC Partnership Greater Than the Sum of Its.” 70, no. 3 (2015): 1081–1113.

Gompers, Paul, and Josh Lerner. “The Venture Capital Revolution.” 15, no. 2 (2001): 145–68.

Gompers, Paul. . Edited by MIT Press. Boston, MA, 2006.

Kaplan, Steven N., and Josh Lerner. “It Ain’t Broke: The Past, Present, and Future of Venture Capital.” 22, no. 2 (2010): 36–47.

Kortum, Samuel, and Josh Lerner. “Assessing the Contribution of Venture Capital to Innovation.” 31, no. 4 (2000): 674–92.

Nanda, Ramana, Sampsa Samila, and Olav Sorenson. “The Persistent Effect of Initial Success: Evidence from Venture Capital.” , 2019.

Rhodes-Kropf, Matthew, and Ramana Nanda. “Investment Cycles and Startup Innovation.” 110 (2012): 403–18.

Sapienza, Harry J., Sophie Manigart, and Wim Vermeir. “Venture Capitalist Governance and Value Added in Four Countries.” 11, no. 6 (1996): 439–69.

Writing on the ethics of venture capital @Cambridge_Uni; visiting Stanford and NYU; former: PhD on homelessness at Cambridge, MSc at LSE, BA at ZU