Dare Disturb the Universe: A Memoir of Venture Capital
Charles Newhall III
Koehler Books (2022)
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (11/2022)
The technicalities of what makes venture capital venture capital, and the ins and outs of the industry and entrepreneurship of it, aren’t what makes this a great book. Of course, all of this is also included in this book, providing the reader an exceptional foray into venture capitalism, but what really makes “Dare Disturb the Universe: A Memoir of Venture Capital” by Charles Newhall III a phenomenal read is the author’s sheer talent for storytelling.
“Dare Disturb the Universe” houses it all. From the failure of HealthSouth and the nightmare of unwinding it, to the housekeepers the author employed after the death of his first wife, to the chapter dedicated to his now wife, these stories suck the reader in and firmly immerse us in the life of venture capitalism in which the author lives. Charles Newhall III’s career is undoubtedly unmatched. The success he’s created and the profoundly positive impact on millions of people’s lives through the funds he’s raised and ventures he’s helped to create are significant. Upon co-founding New Enterprise Associates in 1977, much of Newhall’s stories and industry news may now be outdated, but no less informative and enlightening. For instance, his presence in technology and healthcare include ventures surrounding the Dot-com bubble and the application of diabetes treatments now widely used. However, these stories show readers the emotions, excitement, and uncertainty surrounding the decisions and investments being made at the time.
“Dare Disturb the Universe” offers a unique perspective on venture capitalism, providing a history and detail like never before. Newhall crafts a historical account of the VC industry, the impacts on businesses and consumers it has, and continues to have, as well as the risks and rewards it houses. Despite centering on the author’s own firm, and that of his family, Newhall is sure to include the many mentors, friends, and influences who played a role in its success, much to the reader’s delight and entertainment. In fact, while many of the names dropped throughout these pages may not immediately register in their importance, there are many more names whose impact is instantaneously recognized.
The author’s passion, and feeling of making a difference through his work is palpable. How he describes each fund, the creation of the fund, and ultimate use of the fund was entertaining to follow. What his firm did with each cash raise and disbursement, from the people they brought in to support or run each endeavor really gave readers an insight into the nitty gritty of what it takes, how it’s done and what goes in to making venture capital successful. A story I won’t soon forget, “Dare Disturb the Universe” provides a true perspective on the behind-the-scenes rodeo of successful entrepreneurism.