If he ever heard any criticism from LPs, it was behind closed doors. But now that he’s written and self-published his first novel, Crosspoint Venture Partners GP Rich Shapero is getting very public feedback.
Reviews were decidedly mixed about Wild Animus on Amazon.com. One reader gave the 328-page tome five stars, calling it “a truly thought-provoking work of literary fiction.” Two others gave it just one star, one of them calling it “self-indulgent, rambling nonsense.”
Wild Animus tells the tale of Sam Altman. It begins in the 1960s, when Altman is an acid-dropping anti-war protestor at the University of California at Berkeley. From there he descends into drug addiction and madness, dressing up as a ram and running around the Alaskan wilderness.
It isn’t clear how much of the Altman character is actually based on its author. Like his character, Shapero attended Berkeley in the 1960s. And, according to the book publisher’s website, he has spent time “dog sledding the Arctic [and] traversing 400 miles of [Alaska’s] mountainous terrain solo-as he did while writing Wild Animus.”
Shapero has had plenty of time on his hands since 2000, when he and his partners turned down $1 billion in LP commitments and started winding down their firm. That same year Shapero founded Too Far, which, according to its website, is “dedicated to producing thought-provoking creative works. Our interest is in the discovery of truths about the human heart and mind.” Too Far’s first publication is none other than Shapero’s first novel.
Shapero is dead serious about his new pursuit. In addition to founding Too Far, he has staffed it with five employees, including a president of publishing and a president of advanced development. And he has spent more than half a million bucks to promote his book.
We left messages at Crosspoint, but the VC-turned-novelist never called back. He was said to be too busy on his self-funded 13-city book tour. Maybe he headed back to Alaska after reading some of the bad reviews.
The Los Angeles Times reported in October that Stewart Alsop would leave his general partner post with New Enterprise Associates (NEA) at the end of the year. He has been with the firm for eight years. Alsop had already moved into gone-fishin’ mode when we called him in October. An assistant at NEA said he was angling in Idaho and was preparing to go on a trip out of the country.
Biddle Races Ahead
Jack Biddle has navigated his share of rough seas in venture capital. And Biddle, who co-founded Novak Biddle Venture Partners in 1996, knows his way around the water, too. In September, he and his crew aboard the Rum Puppy yacht won the Hospice Cup Trophy at the Hospice Cup XXIII race in the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Md. The event raised more than $550,000 to benefit area hospices in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington.
The Hospice Cup Trophy itself recognizes the best performance over the past three years. Biddle and his crew took third in the 4.6-mile race this year, placed second of 20 last year and first of 24 in 2002. By way of the win, the Rum Puppy team qualified to sail in next April’s National Hospice Regatta Championship, also held in Annapolis. A local team has never won the championship race, but Biddle says the next one may well be different.
A Day To Remember
In September, nearly two years after getting elected governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney remembered his business roots and earmarked a day for his former industry. Sept. 28 was Venture Capitalist Day. In his proclamation, Romney-who co-founded Bain Capital in 1984-stated that all citizens should “applaud the efforts of the many individuals who make entrepreneurship possible,” and commended investors whose efforts have supported “economic development in Massachusetts.”
The governor’s office said the request for the proclamation came from Romney’s old friend, Joseph Bartlett, the avuncular Boston native who has served as a lawyer to numerous venture capital and buyout firms. Bartlett currently runs VC Experts.
Dolan’s New Venture
Barr Dolan, a general partner with Charter Ventures, has helped start lots of companies. He co-founded EP Technologies, Octel Communications and Vesta Medical.
While he’s proud of his endeavors, he’s positively beaming over his latest startup-Ella Matkin Dolan. She was born in early June, weighing nine pounds, four ounces.
Dolan has nothing but good things to say about this latest life science venture. “She is the most beautiful girl in the world,” he says.