The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future

by: Sebastian Mallaby (0)

Shortlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year 

Named a Best Book of 2022 by The Economist

“A gripping fly-on-the-wall story of the rise of this unique and important industry based on extensive interviews with some of the most successful venture capitalists.” - Daniel Rasmussen, Wall Street Journal

“A must-read for anyone seeking to understand modern-day Silicon Valley and even our economy writ large.” -Bethany McLean, The Washington Post

"A rare and unsettling look inside a subculture of unparalleled influence.” —Jane Mayer

"A classic...A book of exceptional reporting, analysis and storytelling.” —Charles Duhigg

From the New York Times bestselling author of More Money Than God comes the astonishingly frank and intimate story of Silicon Valley’s dominant venture-capital firms—and how their strategies and fates have shaped the path of innovation and the global economy

Innovations rarely come from “experts.” Elon Musk was not an “electric car person” before he started Tesla. When it comes to improbable innovations, a legendary tech VC told Sebastian Mallaby, the future cannot be
predicted, it can only be discovered. It is the nature of the venture-capital game that most attempts at discovery fail, but a very few succeed at such a scale that they more than make up for everything else. That extreme ratio of success and failure is the power law that drives the VC business, all of Silicon Valley, the wider tech sector, and, by extension, the world.
The Power Law, Sebastian Mallaby has parlayed unprecedented access to the most celebrated venture capitalists of all time—the key figures at Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, Accel, Benchmark, and Andreessen Horowitz, as well as Chinese partnerships such as Qiming and Capital Today—into a riveting blend of storytelling and analysis that unfurls the history of tech incubation, in the Valley and ultimately worldwide. We learn the unvarnished truth, often for the first time, about some of the most iconic triumphs and infamous disasters in Valley history, from the comedy of errors at the birth of Apple to the avalanche of venture money that fostered hubris at WeWork and Uber.
  VCs’ relentless search for grand slams brews an obsession with the ideal of the lone entrepreneur-genius, and companies seen as potential “unicorns” are given intoxicating amounts of power, with sometimes disastrous results. On a more systemic level, the need to make outsized bets on unproven talent reinforces bias, with women and minorities still represented at woefully low levels. This does not just have social justice implications: as Mallaby relates, China’s homegrown VC sector, having learned at the Valley’s feet, is exploding and now has more women VC luminaries than America has ever had. Still, Silicon Valley VC remains the top incubator of business innovation anywhere—it is not where ideas come from so much as where they
go to become the products and companies that create the future. By taking us so deeply into the VCs’ game, The Power Law helps us think about our own future through their eyes.

The Reviews

I find this book super-enjoyable. It is well-researched - full of dramatic anecdotes about eccentric start-up entrepreneurs, plus venture capitalists that are smart enough to look beyond these eccentricities and identify the underlying business potentials. This narrative is what I expected.Moreover, I appreciate that its author not just tell a story. He can see a broader picture and ask big questions. For example, in the beginning of the book, he argued that VC is a missing piece between the market and the firm (a dichotomy originated from Ronald Coase). Also, he put forward argument for the contributions of VC to tech innovations. The pros and cons for the different approaches of VC are discussed. Readers may not agree to the answers he propose, but undoubtedly these questions are eye-openers.

I really enjoyed this book. It does a great job of giving enough details to be interesting but not to the point of being dense.I would have given 5 stars except he says the word “duly” about 30 times and he makes a huge issue out of the fact that most VC workers are men.

Startups without venture capital is like one hand clapping. For those not familiar with Venture Capital as an industry, its inception and evolution and role in building the U.S. innovation ecosystem, this book is a valuable addition and worth a read.That said this book feels like it written by committee, each responsible for a third of the book.The first third of the book, a survey of the history of venture capital to the end of the 20th century is a good overview, albeit one with a very parochial view. All of these early histories, this one included, offer a very limited perspective on the role of the military in funding/founding Silicon Valley in the midst of the Cold War. It’s not unexpected as most of those efforts are buried in projects and reports that only now are becoming declassified. But their impact was substantial on the early days of Silicon Valley. To be fair, it would be extremely difficult for academic historians who didn’t have code word clearances to understand this. So far none have.As the second third of the book crosses into the 21st century it loses its dispassionate perspective of trying to find meaning and context and instead reads as a paean to Sequoia Capital and Accel. This might be an artifact of the narrative as the book traces the evolution of venture through the lens of individual Venture Capitalists and their firms (Patterson and Swartz, Moritz and Leone/Morritz, et al.). However, I found this section obsequious to the point you’d think the author was an investor in their funds.The last third of the book provides valuable insight on the evolution and growth of venture capital in China. It’s one of the few coherent retrospectives about the growth of Chinese VC I’ve read.Finally, two points worth noting. The first, is that this is not a history of all of venture capital. In the 20th century most VC firms invested in all forms of technology; hardware, software and starting in the 1980’s, life sciences (therapeutics, devices and diagnostics.) But by the beginning of the 21st century most firms specialized. However in reading the book you’d have no idea that Life Science VC’s exist. Yet arguably the companies they’ve funded have provided more value to society than every social media investment ever made.As a closing note, and this has nothing to do with the value of the book, is the authors unabashed view that venture capital is just fine as is, don’t screw with it. Yet at the end of the day venture for all it has done in creating an innovation ecosystem, is an unregulated financial asset class without any morals. It’s equally happy funding Apple and Moderna (Covid Vaccines) as it has Juul (addicting teens to tobacco) or Facebook (the Purdue Pharma of social media.)Worth a read.

This is an extremely useful book for someone like me, who knew very little about Venture Capital and Silicon Valley. It explains the Valley's history and its business dynamics very clearly, authoritatively and rigorously. I hope the author writes updates in the future -- I'd love to hear him continue describing VC's unfolding story. The best part about Mallaby is his modesty; he acknowledges the randomness of a firm's success and failure, and is neither uncritical nor hypercritical of VC and tech in general. It's so rare and terrific to read someone who presents wonderfully reported topics without drinking the Kool-Aid nor hating the game and/or the players.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author made the history and evolution of Venture Capital very readable and understandable. The book also provides insights into the thinking and personalities of the prime movers of Silicon Valley. As an aside the author illustates how unlikeable Marl Zuckerberg is as when he showed up to a VC meeting in his pajamas. That is what you call chutzpah or is it arrogance? No wonder Sheryl Sandberg quit. She has no chance of helping this guy.

This book is probably the best at accurately describing how VCs work, at least based on my experience working with VCs. I strongly believe in the value that VCs provide and I have been somewhat awed by the whole VC ecosystem in Silicon Valley that allows someone like myself, a fresh grad with no industry experience, to receive funding and start a company. This book shows how that VC ecosystem developed over the years and continues to make dreams possible.

Excellent read on the history of venture capital and how it came to be in its current iteration. Highly recommend.

Well written

This book is a tour de force, combining great stories with deep insight, informed by the academic literature and author's own considerable expertise, that does the best job I have seen explaining the various stages in VC and the nature of the unique contribution of VC to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Absolute must read by all entrepreneurs, as well as policy makers and the larger public seeking to understand the dynamics behind disruptive innovation. Also brilliantly written

This book is a riveting retelling of the rise and rollercoaster ride of venture capital over the past 50 years. It's a reminder of how young the industry is, how much it has achieved, and how much yet remains to be figured out. I'd recommend this to any tech enthusiast - it also reads like a short history of the modern internet era.

The book reviews the history of venture capital activity in silicon valley and other places. You may skip some chapters without losing important ideas. But make sure to read the last chapter, Conclusion, where the author discusses the question, “what is the contribution of the venture capital activity to the economy and the welfare, and why this activity succeeded in silicon valley and fail in the east coast and Europe?”. To answer this question, the author presents some thought-provoking ideas.

These work great.

So far the TP-Link AC750 RE220 Dual-Band WiFi Extender (2019 release) has worked great and suits my needs perfectly.It's small and visually appealing so you don't need to worry about hiding a bulky or ugly device. It actually resembles an plugin oil diffuser like a lot of us might have. It is very light weight so it shouldn't sag from the outlet when plugged in. You will lose an outlet plug and if that's a problem you can always use an extension cord and put it where ever you want. The front of the RE220 boasts 5 easy to understand LEDs informing you of its status (power, ethernet, WiFi, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands) and a WPS button. The bottom of the device has a high speed RJ45 ethernet port (this is absolutely golden for wired devices) and a reset button which is recessed so you don't have to worry about accidentally pushing it and ensuring that you have to mean it when you do use that feature. It is supposed to work with any WiFi router. The mobile app and web user interface also give you management options like enabling the High Speed Mode, restricting particular devices for a specified amount of time and it even lets you turn off the LEDs if they might disturb your sleep or distract you. I personally have not used the extra features as of yet but they sound like they might be pretty useful, especially being able to turn off the LEDs. I think everyone has noticed blinking lights from various devices and they can be super annoying if they're in your bedroom or visible when you're trying to focus.The RE220 was very simple to set up with easy to follow step-by-step directions in the box, which guide you through the process and inform you about your options for setup (WPS, mobile app, web UI), where to find the app, a QR code for the app (this is also printed on the box) and the web UI address for setup if you opt to use a computer instead of the app or WPS feature. I chose to use the app which is also very simple which made the process all the more enjoyable. All you have to do is follow the on-screen prompts and it goes smoothly. It has you setup your 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi bands separately as they each have a password although it's usually the same and it's also true that not all networks are dual-band. I didn't have a single problem during setup. It was quick and painless.The only setup issue I did have was mine. In my haste to get the RE220 going, I didn't rename the extender's WiFi signal to match my home network so it caused conflicts with my IoT devices that were trying to talk to each other because the network is password protected and I had actually created a second password protected network. This caused some communication issues. The instructions even tell you that you may want/need to do this but I was in a hurry so I could get other things done and overlooked that. Once the signal was renamed and the password set to match the original network it worked great and without issue. This was very easy to do within the mobile app but could also be easily done using a laptop or desktop computer.I bought this to solve an issue with a device I got a great deal on. I stumbled upon a used Sony Media Streaming Bluray player for $15. I couldn't believe it and couldn't pass it up. I didn't really need it but I was tired of using my phone or laptop to stream movies and video to my bedroom TV. It was always a hassle and the only alternative was a wired connection directly to the TV and that in itself was a pain and more so if I wanted to play any of the discs that I have since my laptop doesn't have a built-in disc player and I have to connect the USB BR/DVD/CD player. The problem was that the player required a wired network connection and not wireless. I can't complain since it was practically free. I don't know about you but my house does not have wired ethernet. I could do that myself but it's time consuming and the money needed cancels any value in my purchase, in fact, it probably would have exceeded the cost of a brand new media player and I didn't want to make that kind of investment just to get a media player on the network. My TV is a few years old and it doesn't have WiFi or smart apps itself and I'm not ready to spend a few hundred just to get that kind of experience there either. Not when I can work around it for much less. This network extender allowed me to connect the Bluray player to the network using a spare network cable that was laying around from an old printer or maybe it was an outdated gateway from an internet old service provider. Regardless, the cable was brand new in the package and all I had to do was plug it into the TP-Link RE220 extender and my Bluray player and BAM the player was on the network and asking me to install updates. To top it all off, the WiFi signal in my bedroom is much stronger and everything using the RE220 signals have a much more reliable signal. That's not to say my Arris Gateway didn't give me a good signal to begin with, it's just a stronger signal.The speed of the TP-Link RE220 AC750 WiFi Extender works great for watching Prime videos in HD. I get full 1080p just fine. There is always a loading delay but I think that's the player which is a few years old so the memory and processor speed is not top of the line but it was $15 so again I'm not complaining. If you plan on watching 4k Ultra video, you may want to do some research to see if the TP-Link RE220 AC750 WiFi Extender meets your needs speed-wise, but it claims 433 MBps for 5 GHz and 300 MBps for the 2.4 GHz bands which should be fast enough but it's not GigaBit speed for sure. I don't have a GigaBit speed router so it wasn't a concern. My TV isn't 4k Ultra capable so I didn't worry one bit about it. I did notice that when I watched a movie using the Amazon Prime app on the player, it checked the connection speed and displayed the result and it's exactly what I see on my Samsung Galaxy S9+ on the home WiFi so the RE220 does not seem to be slower than the Arris Gateway my network is running on to begin with and the only speed issues I ever see are when too many devices are simultaneously using too much bandwidth (multiple HD TVs, cell phones, laptops, remote set top boxes, etc). First world I right? The only solution there is a faster internet connection and router which hasn't been necessary and saves money and even if I did upgrade I think this WiFi extender would still suit my needs.

I use a mobile hotspot at home, but I have trouble with wifi coverage. My hotspot is like a cell phone that is just for internet access. I connect my ipad to it via wifi, and then the hotspot uses a cellphone type connection to the nearest cell tower. The hotspot runs on a battery, and I need to be close to it in order for the wifi connection to work. That means when I use it at home, I have to remember to carry the hotspot with me as I move around the house. This extender device provides a much stronger wifi connection for me.The hotspot does not have an ethernet port, so I used the instructions to connect via Web Browser. To do this, first plug the extender into electricity. I put it at the center of my house, and right next to my hotspot. The instructions talk about putting halfway from your router, but because the hotspot is very short range, it’s best to put them together. Once the extender is plugged into the wall, you go into settings and change from your current wifi to the extender, and then you open your browser. You aren’t hitting the internet this way. You’re just using your browser to talk to the extender. Type in the address shown in the instructions, and create the password you will use just for the extender, not your hotspot. It will walk you through the steps. There’s only 2 things that were a little bit confusing for me. At the end, it has you leave your browser (you don’t close the page, you just switch apps for a minute), and you connect to the new network you just created with your extender. You will be prompted for a password. Use your hotspot password, NOT the new password you just created for the extender. The other thing that confused me a little was after I clicked “Finish” it brought up a login screen again in the browser. At first I thought it wanted me to log into wifi again, but I think it had just cycled back to the beginning of the setup sequence. I didn’t log in. I just closed the tab, and the wifi worked fine.Please note that this device will not give you a better connection to cell phone towers. I still have the same 1 or 2 bars of coverage, and the slowness at peak hours that I had before. But it allows me to use my hotspot at home without carrying the hotspot everywhere with me, which makes things so much easier for me.

I'm still learning how to use this WIFI Extender. It's easy enough to setup, but the App that's available for controlling the Extender is HORRIBLE! As of yet, I haven't been able to find another App on Google Play or Amazon App Stores that are compatible with this device. Also, the actual Range you get is not great. But that could be an issue totally unique to my situation. I have a 132 year old house that has a 4ft crawl space between each floor. The dead-space really eats up the distance margins when placing the Extender where I need it. I'm sure it would work much better for other situations different than mine, though I can't be 100% on that.

The written and web set up instructions were not helpful (to say the least), nor was Amazon tech support. I did find the cellphone app very helpful for setting up. Once installed, the booster accomplished what we wanted, boosting from our slow spot 7Mbps to 24Mbps with 200Mbps internet router 2 rooms away. Be sure to reset your internet connection to ..._EXT when using the booster as your source for your slow spot.

Thought I was getting 120 stockings as listed only recieved 12. False advertising...


I bought this for a charity event. There are 12 - TWELVE - in the pack, NOT 120. I want a refund!

Nice, well constructed shirt jacket. Flannel lining is nice. Bought for my son who is pretty stocky and it fit him well with a Tshirt, but I would probably size up if you want to layer under it.

I like this shirt because it has a slim, longer cut. When it first arrived, it was perfect, but after a wash or two, the arms shortened a bit, which is really annoying. Also, the shell shrinks more than the lining, so it leaves the lining rumpled, but I can't just not wash it because the material picks up smells.

Large fit perfectly. Washed and dried with little on no shrinkage. Sleeves & pockets are also flannel lined, making it warmer than Legendary Whitetails version even though it's a bit lighter. Just as good quality and far cheaper. I'm 5'10" about 175 and broad at chest & shoulders.

I've been looking for this type of shirt jacket at a fair price for quite some time. This one is stylish enough to wear with jeans or khakis

It’s seems heavy duty and warm.

The sleeve length is perfect for my long arms and fabric is soft and not noisy or crinkly. My new favorite layer

Sleeves are slim cut. True to size. I like it.

If you’re almost fat, this is what you need to appear to be less obtuse and more burly.Does not disappoint.11/10 promote above peers

Great amount of detail describing the origins of venture capital (VC). Easy to read, packed with good nuggets of information and anecdotes

The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future
⭐ 4.6 💛 510
kindle: $14.99
paperback: $23.26
hardcover: $20.02
Buy the Book