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The Power Law by Sebastian Mallaby
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The Power Law

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The Power Law by Sebastian Mallaby
Jan 25, 2022 | ISBN 9780525559993

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“A lucid, thoughtful, and entertaining account of high-wire capitalism at work.” —Publishers Weekly

“Indispensable.” Kirkus

“If you can read only one book on venture capital, this is the one. The Power Law narrates the evolution of venture capital from its origins in Silicon Valley to its emergence in China by following the ambitious and often idiosyncratic investors who finance risky new ventures while recognizing that success is rare, but transformative. The book is a fascinating read, and illustrates well one of its core themes, that venture capital is a network that straddles and offers the virtues of both markets and corporations.” —AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the School of Information at University of California, Berkeley

“As we face urgent man-made existential challenges from climate change to economic inequality, Sebastian Mallaby shows that the capitalists of Silicon Valley are shaping the future in ways few understand. In The Power Law he takes us inside their rarified world, showing the possibilities and shortcomings of their big egos and big bets. Mallaby’s deep access enables us to get a rare and unsettling look inside a subculture of unparalleled influence.” —Jane Mayer, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New Yorker

“A fascinating journey through the tightly networked world of the venture capitalists who make Silicon Valley tick, from the scrappy dealmakers of the 1960s to the high-flying global investors of today. Filled with eye-opening case studies and vivid personalities, frank in its analysis of the industry’s greatest strengths and most dangerous blind spots, The Power Law is essential reading for understanding our tech-driven economy and where it might go next.” —Margaret O’Mara, author of The Code

“Venture capital has influenced the American economy for over half-a-century now, and finally we have a book of exceptional reporting, analysis and storytelling to bring that history to life. What makes Sebastian Mallaby’s The Power Law a classic is how deeply it takes us into VC’s defining successes and failures—which are much harder to get anyone to talk frankly about. I’m not sure this is the book of VCs’ dreams, but it’s what the rest of us have been waiting for.” —Charles Duhigg

The Power Law is a remarkable book. It takes us inside venture capital from its origins with a handful of restless risk-takers to today’s powerhouses that reshape our world. Both a formidable researcher—he has gotten key players to talk with amazing candor—and a gifted storyteller, Mallaby captures the drama and clashes of an extraordinary gallery of people who—with insight and instincts, appetite for risk and tolerance for failure, unforgiving ego and relentless ambition—make big bets in the face of huge uncertainty. Yet all of them must ultimately answer to the ‘power law’—the reach for outsized returns. Mallaby does not shy away from detailing what has gone wrong, but he sees the ‘triumph of the network’ of Silicon Valley as also a triumph for the United States—though one now challenged by the mirror image that is rising up in China. The Power Law is an important book, for sure. It is destined to be of wide impact and lasting influence.” —Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Prize and The New Map

“Everyone talks about venture capital. We glorify it, we vilify it, and everywhere outside Silicon Valley envies it. At last we have a storyteller with the intelligence to understand venture capital, the diligence to dig out some astonishing tales, and the eloquence to make the journey of discovery such a pleasure. This is a superb book.” Tim Harford, author of The Data Detective

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