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Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  547 ratings  ·  71 reviews
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller!

What are venture capitalists saying about your startup behind closed doors? And what can you do to influence that conversation?

If Silicon Valley is the greatest wealth-generating machine in the world, Sand Hill Road is its humming engine. That's where you'll find the biggest names in venture capital, including famed VC firm Andreessen
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Portfolio
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 ·  547 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Ben Horowitz
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book if you want to learn about Venture Capital!!
Wendy Liu
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Decent primer on an industry that needs to be abolished
Manik Patil
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sand Hill Road is for Silicon Valley in the same way as Hollywood is for Actors, Wall Street is for investment bankers, Music Row is for country music artists. The name of the book is catchy. The book was a recommended read by a fellow angel investor.

Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture
Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It hardly has any secrets . Scott Kupor's stated intent to write the book seems noble. He wanted to level the playing field for entrepreneur vis-a-vis their VC counterparts to avoid pollution of the potentially 10+year marriage.

I liked the sections on term sheet dynamics, VC-LP relations, and VC as an alternative asset class.

Term sheet dynamics: Entrepreneurship is not seen as a career. Term sheet knowledge is not a natural part of most curriculum. VC financiers gain an unfair advantage while negotiating term sheets with entrepreneurs. The book intends to help entrepreneurs build a mental model around the balance of economic and governance terms with the VC financier.

VC-LP relation: If an entrepreneur understands the VC-LP relation, then she can be mindful while entering this marriage.

VC as an alternative asset class: The book mentions David Swensen and his influence on private investing by large institutional investors in the chapter Mighty Bulldog. For those who want to read about Swensen's contribution, read this : I was pleasantly surprised with his mention in the book. His alternatives-heavy (often dubbed as Yale-model) style of investing cannot be a template for sound investing - it drives even Swensen crazy as per this article.

Another pleasant surprise included mention of the 2015 Stanford study (by Ilya Strebulaev). The reference was used to emphasize the fact that VC-funded companies are important for continued US economic dominance.

Even though the book title includes 'secrets', I hardly found any secrets. However, the value is in forming a compendium of 320 pages in an easy-to-consume format.

The book would have exceeded my expectations to get the 5* rating instead of 4* rating if it touched upon the topic of dispersion of talent across the globe and how VC capital is forced to chase such talent in EMs (Emerging Markets)

This book is a must read for:
1. every aspirant, who wants to join the VC industry
2. every entrepreneur who wishes to secure VC financing

For a serious entrepreneur pursuing VC finance or an aspirant to join VC industry, I will post further reading on my upcoming linkedin blogpost. You can follow me at:
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, finance
Thoughtfully laid out and fairly comprehensive, though probably not necessary if one has already read Feld's "Venture Deals" which covers much the same subject matter.
Bartosz Majewski
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Since I advise startups on strategy I need a ton of context to everything connected to it. Fundraising, finance, law, corporate governance are sometimes part of it. Since I'm no expert in those topics I often refer founders to lawyers, accountants, and VCs to help. But sometimes that's not possible and therefore I need to educate myself to serve my clients better.

That was my purpose to read this book. It's clearly a part of a "We are a media company monetizing through venture capital
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good comprehensive overview of how venture capital works. Would recommend for any participant in early-stage universe.

One area that jumped out as not covered in the book was how VC firms function day to day on sourcing and deciding on deals. Would have been interested to hear Scott’s view of the typical interaction between entrepreneur and VC in fundraising process - e.g. number of meetings, number of people at the firm that you meet, deal approval process, role of junior / mid-level
Vanessa Princessa
I read this book thanks to Blinkist.

I learned so much from this. It’s a process that start-ups go through that I didn’t even know existed! Very unique book for me.

The key message in these blinks:

With the advent of countless new tech start-ups in the early 2000s, the relationship between venture capitalists (VCs) and entrepreneurs changed significantly. Nowadays, one of the main characteristics VCs look for in companies is a founder who has unique insight into
Racha Gh
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The challenge with this book was that I read Venture Deals by Brad Feld just a week before reading this book, so the first half felt super repetitive - but page 170 onwards brought in some fresh perspective and examples that added great insight.
John Stepper
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
It could easily be a textbook for a course on venture capital, and yet it’s told in a very human, accessible, balanced way that I enjoyed it and learned oh so much.
Nicholas Stocks
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great intro into the VC world focused on founders/startup operators as it's audience, taking it further than Venture Deals with regards to VC structuring and slightly easier read than The Business of Venture Capital (which has more of an aspiring VC audience in mind I believe - and i highly recommend!)

Not really for anyone who is familiar with VC funds and how they operate though.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business

Key take aways for me:
1. There are Three important things VC look at when deciding which company to fund
a. People:  What are the backgrounds of the founders? What evidence does their pitch provide that they’ll be able to bring their idea to market effectively? And, in particular, what makes their story stand out from the potentially dozens of other founders who’ve had the same or a similar idea?
b. Product: This usually depends on how revolutionary a product is. New products from s
Josh Cozens
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good at laying the foundations and principles underpinning venture capitalism, how they aid and catalyse startups, where they add non-monetary value and dispelling misconceptions. Scott tactfully argues for both sides of the coin and stresses to take VC funding seriously and consider all possible avenues to ensure your startup reaches its potential down the correct path.
For me it lacked visuals to bring it to life. Scott included some examples, to bring home some concepts which helped, but
Ryan Lackey
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great overview of how VCs work the way they do, including their own LP dynamics, and how the venture capital system works. Some great focus on the duties of boards in private companies illustrated with the famous and precedent setting court cases which defined decision making standard of the Business Judgment Rule vs Entire Fairness (from the Trados case), the Revlon standards in acquisitions, etc.

Overall I slightly prefer Venture Hacks, but both books are good and probably worth rea
Evgenia Trofimova
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved the book.
It is an amazing ABC with some YZ for the first-time founders as myself.
It explains many details about how VCs operate that normally you wouldn't care to learn about - but that is quite important to understand.
I've listened to an audiobook, and although I liked it, I highly recommend the printed version as it has some tables and calculations that are essential and easier to be analyzed on paper.
The last chapter was an overkill for the book, cause it seemed to me
Seth Davis
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of this book. It does a great job of walking through considerations around the tech and financing economy. I suppose you have to be the right type of person with a deep interest in the subject area to find it valuable as it delves in a pretty detailed manner into typical VC termsheets. I liked that the author highlighted detailed example specifics and then went into the reasoning, background, and example stories about the provisions. He does a good job of covering what the VC's inc ...more
Brian Gimlett
Perhaps you have a shark tank worthy idea but not enough dough to launch it, or if have you visions of investing in the next Facebook or Uber and looking for that 2500x return, but don't know the first thing about a proper term sheet, then this book is for you. I will say the title is a touch misleading as I don't know that many secrets are revealed, but as an intro to the VC world, it does a good job. Kupor is employee number three at Andreessen Horowitz, so he is qualified to speak on the subj ...more
Zulfiqar Khan
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is extremely useful for anyone looking to better understand the nuts and bolts of the venture capital industry and the lifecycle of VC investing. This could include aspiring entrepreneurs, board members, founders as well as other employees. Kupor's writing style is free flowing and while there is quite a but of technical content, the lucid nature in which he discusses a topic he clearly knows a great deal about, also allows this book to serve as a good refresher for existing VC profess ...more
Felipe CZ
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Venture Capital firms in Silicon Valley have funded some of the biggest companies today, and the author has worked with many of them. One of the main features nowadays that VCs look for in companies is a founder with insight into the solution or problem his project wants to attend, and mastering willingness to adapt while still being committed to their original ideas. But once you get the funding, you have to maintain good relationship with the VC via term sheets, in order to eventually make it ...more
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-19
Reads more like a dummies guide for entrepreneurs than giving away any secrets. It is very well written and easy to read, though this means that some details are skipped over in places. I've heard Scott Kupor on podcasts and feel he probably has a book inside him that really does tell us some secrets. I still feel the Dummies guide is probably a better primer overall, but the governance bits in here are better.
Bernard Bravenboer
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reasonably good and useful. Lots has been said about the US-specific content but I didn’t find it as irrelevant as expected; I didn’t look to the book for specific local advice but rather to get an idea of what I didn’t know I didn’t know. In that sense it was rewarding and worthwhile. I found the writing style pleasant. The book does cover some very example term sheets that would be harder to follow on audio, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a good candidate for audio per se.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Moods: informative
Pace: Medium

Very useful, especially if you're a startup founder, for getting a detailed-enough overview of all facets of the venture capital world!

Even if you're not involved in entrepreneurship or tech, but you've seen things like "X company has raised a Series A of $10 million" or "Y company acquired by Z company for $500 million" and you want to have more of a sense of what that means, then this book is for you!
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is effectively a reference book.
Not as interesting or useful to read cover to cover but definitely worth reviewing the outline and many sections at different stages in a startups life cycle.

But a book on how to get funding that completely exclude the intro, pitch and due diligence seems like it's missing a few sections.
Jeannette Rs
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I learned many things that I’ve been trying to learn for a while through this book. The author clearly explains very complex topics. I loved this book and was waiting a while to read it, I’m so glad I did. I think it’s valuable to any business person, and especially it should be recommended to entrepreneurs.
Marty Hu
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book if you are willing to put a lawyer hat on. Reading this gives you an idea of all of the work that lawyers do and how important it is to align interests on all sides, especially when there is a lot of money at stake! I especially enjoyed the parts with real-life examples of company finances gone wrong and ensuing lawsuits.
Sojharo Mangi
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good book which teaches founders about challenges of and strategies to make on several stages of their entrepreneurial journey with VC firms. It starts from how to get venture capital and ends on what you do with business when it is a success. It is a good book to get tips for every stage of your journey.
Andrew Tollemache
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very good book detailing the timeline and practices of how a start up company arises, gets financing, developes its business and then hopefully gets sold or goes public. Scott Kupor, a partner at VC firm A16Z does a great job waling the lay reader through the process and explaining key concepts along the way.
Rishabh Srivastava
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A detailed overview of how Venture Capital Firms operate, and what entrepreneurs should know about them. The first half gives a high level overview, and the second half gives a detailed account of how entrepreneurs should understand term sheets.

Very useful. Was definitely worth the time. Strongly recommended.
Adam Sherman
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great intro to VC 101 book. Teaches you the common mistakes founders make when working with venture capital firms and really dissects and gets into the nuts and bolts of the most common concepts on a term sheet. Great for anyone starting a company that might need VC money, or someone just getting into the VC landscape.
Jose Miguel Porto
For anyone who want to get familiarized with venture capital this is a recommended reading. For those who know about VC this book will refresh certain concepts and bring to your attention of the economics and drives behind VC firms to have a better understanding on how best to structure your VC round. The author has made a good job at making an easy read of a dense topics - a VC term sheet.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Poorly written but rich in content. A 101 & 201 on how to read term sheets.. but just as boring as it sounds. Fell far short of Horowitz style of utilizing narratives to make a point, as Kupor gives tactical advice on how to raise money, theoretically
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“Ben Horowitz uses the difference between a vitamin and an aspirin to articulate this point. Vitamins are nice to have; they offer some potential health benefits, but you probably don’t interrupt your commute when you are halfway to the office to return home for the vitamin you neglected to take before you left the house. It also takes a very, very long time to know if your vitamins are even working for you. If you have a headache, though, you’ll do just about anything to get an aspirin! They solve your problem and they are fast acting. Similarly, products that often have massive advantages over the status quo are aspirins; VCs want to fund aspirins.” 1 likes
“In fact, you’ll often hear VCs say that they like founders who have strong opinions but ones that are weakly held, that is, the ability to incorporate compelling market data and allow it to evolve your product thinking. Have conviction and a well-vetted process, but allow yourself to “pivot” (to invoke one of the great euphemisms in venture capital speak) based on real-world feedback.” 0 likes
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