Canon – A collection of rules, books, or principles generally established as valid and fundamental in a field or art or philosophy
These days, I think of almost everything in terms of startups, venture capital, and the rest of the technology sector. For me, it has become a fixation. I have spent the last two years discovering, reviewing, and studying every bit of knowledge on the subject that I could find. Blogs, books, relationships, videos; I have pored over what often seemed like an endless library or resources on my route to understanding this ecosystem. In a way, I feel as though I have created my own little degree on the topic. The process has been as rewarding as any, so I thought I might share the syllabus. This list is not at all exclusive, but I do think that it represents the core of my approach.
I personally think that this should be the start of any entrepreneur’s search into the world of VC. Mark discusses both sides of the VC deal and does it with a refreshing candor and unrivaled authenticity. He tells it straight, keeps it topical, and digs deep into the issues at play. I read his entire body of work in two sittings, and I am better for it. If you read only one of these blogs, make it this one. Two favorites posts: JFDI and Don’t Be a Grin Fucker. Mark also hosts a weekly webshow called This Week in VC (check out the archives, there is some good stuff in there).
Brad’s blog is essentially him sharing his mindspace with the rest of the world. He says what is on his mind and leaves it at that. It results in a very genuine, honest, but sometimes less than topical approach to the industry. He also co-authored an excellent book on the matter: Do More Faster. His Foundry Group partners (Seth, Jason, and Ryan) also blog. They are a little less consistent about posting, but they all write good stuff. Feld’s claim to fame is his Term Sheet Series. This little rosetta stone is probably the most concentrated source of data on the oft-confusing and always critical VC-entrepreneur document.
Fred’s work is also broadly accepted as best in class. He posts very consistently and almost always on topic, but he doesn’t do the deep dive that Mark does or the introspection that Brad does. If you want to fill a couple minutes per day with an interesting perspective on the space, he is probably your guy. Not super edgy and maybe a little promotional, but damn consistent, and that is a hard thing to accomplish in the middle of the tempest. One interesting perk here is that Fred has been posting forever! You can look back into 2004 and read how Fred is contending with email spam and other time sucks of the era.
In every way that Mark is candid and authentic, Bryce is that and more (sometimes, flat out irreverent) and I love every bit of it. The honesty here is what does it for me. The guy just says what he thinks (be it entertaining, informative, or persuasive). Agree or disagree, you have to respect his stance. He hasn’t been doing this for quite as long as the others but that means he still has tricks up his sleeve. He is a guy you just want to high five.
Jeff’s wisdom is calculated. When you read his writing, you know it is the result of a great deal of thought, contemplation, and research. All of that thought takes time, so he doesn’t post a ton. When he does, I take a few minutes to sit down and really try to digest what he is trying to communicate. I click through all of the material and treat it like a case study. He also wrote a book on the topic, a good one at that: Mastering the VC Game
Paul’s post are probably the least frequent poster on this list, but when he does post it is like a dictated missive that you can almost imagine him reading to you. He picks a topic and takes a super deep dive. The archive is small and entirely worth the time it takes to consume them all.
Ben’s blog is the newest on my list. I have only been following it for a couple months. I haven’t yet pulled out his exact tone, but the message is almost always a good one.
These have to be on everyone’s reader. This is the pulse of what is going on. Who is launching what, what is getting funded, and by whom. The signal to noise ratio isn’t terribly good, but skimming the headlines and reading the good stuff doesn’t take very long…
Together, the body of knowledge that these folks have created is nothing less than astounding. The fact that all of this information is available for free still shocks me. There is more VC/entrepreneur education here than you could get from any class or curriculum. If you are thinking about entering this space from any angle, this is the canon.