Book: The Startup Game

After writing Do More Faster with David Cohen, I have deep appreciation for the effort involved in writing a book. After reading a bunch of entrepreneurship books, I’ve decided there are three categories: (a) autobiographies, (b) consultant roadmaps, and (c) practitioner stories. I like the practitioner stories best, followed closely by autobiographies. I do not like consultant roadmaps and have decided I won’t read them anymore.

Bill Draper (officially William H. Draper III) has written a gem called The Startup Game. It’s a mix of practitioner stories with some autobiography mixed in. Draper is one of the original VCs – his father (William Henry Draper, Jr.) started Draper Gaither & Anderson, one of the first VC firms on the west coast that coincidentally was the first firm to use a limited partner (LP structure). His son, Tim Draper, started Draper Fisher Jurvetson. And William III started several firms, including Draper & Johnson, Sutter Hill Ventures, Draper Richards, and Draper International. Yup – lots of Drapers, but they’ve all collectively accomplished some amazing things.

In The Startup Game, Draper talks about the early days of venture capital, the creation and evolution of the industry, and many of the early players whose names are well known to any VC insider. Along the way he tells stories about companies he’s funded (or missed funding) and generally teaches at least one lesson in each story. This isn’t an autobiography – while he mixes in lots of biographical information, the chronology is self-admittedly random and he bounces between stories of his father and son along with his sojourn to Washington DC which he calls his lost years.

SF Gate published an interview on Sunday titled William Draper, veteran venture investor, reflects and wrote a review titled Venture capitalist Bill Draper adds ‘author’ to his résumé with ‘The Startup Game. Both capture the spirit of the book which I view as a must read for any practicing or aspiring VC or entrepreneur.

  • History is always interesting. All you had to do is write down: This is a book about the history of VCs and I would have clicked buy on this book, but I do appreciate you writing around it as well. Thanks for the recommandation.

    I still am waiting with anticipation for those old Term Sheets you were looking for, have you found some yet?

    • Yup – I’ve got some old term sheets coming – we’ll be publishing some
      of them in the book Venture Financings which should be coming out
      sometime in Q2.

      • I hope I’ll finish reading Do More Faster by then, it’s 5th in my queue. Need a few more hours a day, why hasn’t anyone invented the time extender app for my iPhone yet?

  • Brad, have you read Bussgang’s “Mastering the VC Game”? I would describe it a little like you describe the book above. So if you haven’t read it, it may be worth a read.

    How would you say “The Startup Game” ranks in there with Kawasaki’s “Reality Check” or Suster’s ( in terms of practicable advice and narrative?

  • Mark Phillips

    Brad, Can you give a couple of examples of Consultant Roadmaps?

      • Anonymous

        Brad, Do you dislike these books because of the format (e.g., you think it is not possible to write a useful road map book because it is always a random path) or because of the quality (e.g., the road map provided does not help the entrepreneur do what needs to be done)? Thanks.

        • I really struggle with “entrepreneurial advice from consultants about how to build a company” when they haven’t built a company. For the ones that have, there is often useful information. But for the professional consultants, the vast majority isn’t that useful or accurate. There are exceptions, but it gets even worse when it gets shoved into a book format.

  • Thanks for the mention. It’s on my to-read list now.