Top VC says every entrepreneur should read these 5 books

Bill Gurley, general partner of Benchmark Capital Holdings Co.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As a general partner at Benchmark, Bill Gurley is a top Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and he's an investor in impressive companies such as GrubHub, Zillow, Uber, Stitch Fix and Glassdoor. He’s also ranked second on Forbes’ 2018 Midas List for the Top Tech Investors.

On Thursday, Gurley tweeted five books that he believes every entrepreneur should read. Here's his list:

1. "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup" by John Carreyrou

“Bad Blood” tells the story of disgraced blood-testing start-up Theranos and its founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who was once widely celebrated as the “female Steve Jobs.” The book tells the “riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid bold promises of Silicon Valley,” according to its Amazon description.

Tweeted Gurley: “There is a lesson in the book for every constituent — employees, executives, investors, board members, and even corporate partners. Interestingly the employees had the most to say, but had the least amount of power — which kept them squelched."


2. “Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors” by Michael E. Porter

Penned by well-known economist and researcher Michael E. Porter, "Competitive Strategy" is close to its 60th printing in English, and has been translated into 19 languages, according to Amazon. The book covers forces behind industry competition and strategic positioning.

"This book is the most efficient short-from MBA that we can give," Gurley said at Launch Festival in San Francisco in 2017, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal.

3. “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey A. Moore

“Crossing the Chasm” has been described as the “bible for bringing cutting-edge products to larger markets.” The book’s latest edition, published in 2014, covers new strategies for marketing in a digital world, according to Amazon.

The book is especially useful for those doing enterprise work, according to Gurley.

4. “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change)” by Clayton Christensen

The Harvard Business School professor's book talks about why certain businesses succeed and why others ones fail. And Gurley's not the only bigwig who's a fan.

“This is an important read, even if you’re at the very early stages of growing a startup,” said Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, which has a market cap of more than $13 billion.

5. “Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure” by Jerry Kaplan

In the book, Kaplan re-hashes his experience building computer company Go Corporation in 1987.

According to Gurley, Go Corp. was "a massive failure that had all the best investors, all the best executives."

"It's a spectacular book because [Kaplan] had a tape recorder and on the way home from work every day, he dictated himself notes," Gurley said at the Launch Festival, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal. "It's remarkably detailed. We spend so much time analyzing success. Sometimes it's good to read how hard it can be."


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