Visionary investors are enthusiastically celebrated in “Something Ventured,” a slickly produced anecdotal account of how venture capitalists enabled maverick entrepreneurs to start and grow such companies as Intel, Apple, Genentech and Atari. Documakers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller have concocted an entertaining, smartly edited mix of firsthand recollections, illustrative archival footage and photos, and cleverly chosen factoids, all the while sustaining a lively pace throughout several chapters of a fascinating and easily accessible history lesson. With pinpoint-precise marketing, pic could perform respectably in theatrical release and should prove invaluable as a teaching tool in business schools.
Quite a few of the interviewees — including ’50s venture-capital pioneer Arthur Rock and early Atari backer Don Valentine — freely admit they’ve occasionally relied on gut instincts rather than careful calculations while selecting startups to support. And sometimes, the starter-uppers needed educating: Apple CEO Mike Markkula recalls remonstrating Steve Jobs when the latter propped his bare feet on a conference table during a board meeting. “Without venture capitalists,” Atari founder Nolan Bushnell says, “the future wouldn’t happen nearly so quickly.” “Something Ventured” provides ample evidence to support Bushnell’s claim.