What makes places like Silicon Valley tick?
Can we replicate that magic in other places?
Discover the answers in this groundbreaking book from two of the world’s leading experts at the intersection of venture capital and global development. Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt propose a radical new theory to explain the nature of places like Silicon Valley—innovation ecosystems that generate extraordinary creativity and output. They argue that free market thinking fails to consider the impact of human nature on the innovation process. This ambitious work challenges basic assumptions that economists have held for over a century.
The authors draw from their own experiences as venture capitalists with a unique practice that blends public and private, working in emerging markets and assisting the growth of thousands of technology startups in over 30 countries. They argue that innovation ecosystems—what they call Rainforests—can only thrive when certain cultural behaviors unlock human potential. Their theory of the Rainforest is influenced by several breakthrough ideas in academia, including insights on sociobiology from Harvard, economic transactions from the University of Chicago, and design theory from Stanford.
With an unorthodox and entertaining narrative, the book reveals the mysterious mechanisms of Rainforests. Furthermore, the authors provide practical tools for readers to design, build, and sustain new innovation communities. The Rainforest will transform the way you think about technology, business, and leadership.
I thought I was planting seeds, but I have been planting weeds. This amazing book relates innovations to random propagations of life in the rainforest. I haven’t read a book this innovative since Bionomics.”
A well-written book with a valuable empirical and multi-disciplinary approach.”
The Rainforest—a book filled with passion, energy and wisdom—bubbles over with energizing insights and practical advice for policy makers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists around the world. Drawing on their deep experience as entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, as well as some of the most advanced research in the social and psychological sciences, Victor Hwang and Greg Horowitt use the analogy of the rainforest to clearly explain the complex evolutionary interactions that must exist…. Few issues could be more important for the United States and for developing countries...”
Everyone’s glooming and dooming, and this is literally the blueprint for the new world.”
In their debut business title, two venture capitalists offer an insightful, forward-thinking assessment of what makes Silicon Valley tick. If Silicon Valley can be held up as a living, breathing example of American ingenuity, why haven’t we been able to recreate it elsewhere? Hwang and Horowitt suggest that Silicon Valley is an innovation ecosystem they liken to a rainforest—hence, the book’s title. Thinking of Silicon Valley as a living biological system “helps innovators ‘tinker’ together in the same way that atoms ‘tinker’ together in natural biological systems ... [to] discover more valuable recipes for combining and recombining ideas, talent, and capital together.” The authors proceed to offer an engaging, highly creative analysis of the workings of a “rainforest,” using Silicon Valley as the prototype. They present 14 compelling “Rainforest Axioms,” for example, “Axiom #2: Rainforests are built from the bottom up, where irrational behavior reigns,” along with the “Rules of the Rainforest,” “Rule #4: Thou shalt experiment and iterate together.” The authors also explain how to build and measure a rainforest. The text is enhanced by well-designed graphic illustrations and explanatory charts. Hwang and Horowitt write with authority and wit, carefully backing up their theory with substantive examples. Readers get the feeling that the authors have unveiled a very big, important concept, one that could serve as the basis for intentionally, methodically developing other “rainforests” similar to Silicon Valley. However, they acknowledge that following the Valley’s winning formula is challenging, suggesting that “The Rainforest concept does not come naturally to many leaders” and that it requires “a new active capitalism” to create a rainforest. While Silicon Valley may not be entirely unique, replicating its ecosystem is no easy task. A provocative study of innovation."
...a detailed analysis of the power of environment on startup success, and in particular an explanation of why Silicon Valley has been such a powerful incubator of ideas and innovation.... If you are interested in the interplay of environment and business, and in understanding in broader terms how our professional relationships define our success, I recommend picking up a copy."
Every once in a while, a business book with a big idea that defines a way of thinking comes along. Such books as Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore and Jim Collins’s Good to Great come to mind. The Rainforest feels like one of those books.”
Offering a challenge to traditional economic wisdom, The Rainforest is a much recommended read for those who want to better understand the intersection of economics, innovation, and business success.”