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The Power Law


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About the Author

Sebastian Mallaby is the author of several books, including the bestselling More Money Than God and The Man Who Knew- The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan, the winner of the 2016 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. A former Financial Times contributing editor and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, Mallaby is the Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives with his family in London.


Mallaby, an astute chronicler of modern capitalism, [...]writes with humour and historical sweep... His account is immensely enriched by interviews with most if not all of the rainmakers in venture capital

Sebastian Mallaby has done what many people would have thought it impossible to do: write a gripping book about the modern history of venture capital... Well-argued and compelling... A superb introduction to an important subject

[An] entertaining history... If you want to understand a world in which a handful of coders became richer than most countries, this is an invaluable guide
*Sunday Times*

In his well-researched book, leavened by lively portraits of leading figures, Mr Mallaby explores the history of the VC industry and the reasons for its vitality

Thoroughly magnificent... Seriously great, and wildly important... It would be difficult to find a more important book than Mallaby's in 2022, and most any year for that matter

Sebastian Mallaby sets off into the world of venture capital and the strange bunch of financiers behind some of the most successful companies. It's a tale of triumphs but also major failures, hubris and jaw-dropping eccentricity
*Financial Times*

[An] absorbing new history of startup investing

[Mallaby] brings his trademark mixture of exhaustive research and clear analysis to his most interesting subject so far

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*

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
*Professor Margaret O’Mara, University of Washington*

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*

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
*Professor AnnaLee Saxenian*

This book is a powerful combination of careful research and great storytelling. Sebastian Mallaby portrays many of the world's most successful venture capitalists but also shows how the industry has evolved and why it has become a major source of innovation in our economies. Highly informative and fun to read
*Baroness Minouche Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science*

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 HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD ADD UP*

In this fascinating study of venture capitalists, Sebastian Mallaby explains why they invest with the sole purpose of winning the jackpot while the rest of us are advised to invest cautiously. A compelling story of flesh and blood financiers, sprinkled with insights from which all economists could learn
*Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England*

Heavyweight and richly detailed, [The Power Law] is both a careering ride through the chaos of startup culture and a sober assessment of how the relationship between founders and their financiers has evolved

A must-read for anyone seeking to understand modern-day Silicon Valley and even our economy writ large... Phenomenally detailed and engaging
*Washington Post*

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 . . . Mr. Mallaby writes a fast-paced narrative. He also has a journalist's eye for revealing details
*Wall Street Journal*

Sweeping and authoritative . . . tells an undercovered tale
*Financial Times*

Sebastian Mallaby is the master of unspooling human drama from financial systems. Here, the venture capitalists are the protagonists. Whether it's financiers scrambling to court a pajama-wearing young Mark Zuckerberg or venture capitalist Bill Gurley's efforts to oust Uber founder Travis Kalanick from the company, the stories are almost Shakespearean in their depictions of ambition, jealousy and ego
*NPR Books*

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