Book Bits: Six New Reads

● Tarzan Economics: Eight Principles for Pivoting Through Disruption
Will Page
Review via The Financial Times
Tarzan Economics borrows its title from technologist Jim Griffin’s 2009 speech reflecting on the music industry’s response to the file-sharer Napster. Griffin described how successful companies need always to swing forwards, Tarzan-like, by reaching “for the next vine”. Page has done time in the jungle himself, as a civil servant turned chief economist at PRS, the UK music rights collecting society, and Spotify.
He applies his “rockonomist” eye well beyond the music business, which he argues just happened to be the first industry to suffer significant digital disruption, and therefore the first to “grab a new vine” of streaming services and recover. “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling,” management thinker Peter Drucker said. “That’s why you need this book,” Page writes. “It makes you look afresh at what you think you know.”

● Inside Money: Brown Brothers Harriman and the American Way of Power
Zachary Karabell
Review via Publishers Weekly
Journalist and former finance executive Karabell (The Last Campaign) delivers a largely flattering history of the private investment firm Brown Brothers Harriman. In 1800, Alexander Brown left Belfast, Ireland, for Baltimore, Md., where he became an importer of linen and an exporter of tobacco. Drawing on company records, Karabell tracks the evolution of the Brown family business from trading to investment banking, and its merger, at the height of the Great Depression, with a bank founded by railroad heir and U.S. diplomat W. Averell Harriman. Along the way, Karabell documents formative moments in America’s economic and political history

● Super Founders: What Data Reveals About Billion-Dollar Startups
Ali Tamaseb
Q&A with author via TechCrunch
TC: Why write this book?
AT: When I was a founder, a lot of my perception was shaped through this lens of what the media tells us. Even now, when I’m on Twitter or Clubhouse, a lot of what I hear feels very different compared with what I see as a venture capitalist. Of course, nobody knows everything, and even the most successful venture capitalists have maybe invested in 10 of these breakout companies in their lifetime. So to get to the ground truth, and because nobody has collected this data because it’s hard, over four years of weekends and evenings, I began to collect [it], ultimately establishing 65 data points per company.

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Disclosures: None.

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