Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Cannes Review: Denis Villeneuve's 'Sicario' Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin And Benicio Del Toro Cannes Review: Denis Villeneuve's 'Sicario' Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin And Benicio Del Toro George Miller Says He Courted Heath Ledger To Lead 'Mad Max' In 2006, Reveals Title For 'Fury Road' Sequel George Miller Says He Courted Heath Ledger To Lead 'Mad Max' In 2006, Reveals Title For 'Fury Road' Sequel Watch: Michael Fassbender Takes The Stage In First Trailer For 'Steve Jobs' Watch: Michael Fassbender Takes The Stage In First Trailer For 'Steve Jobs' George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'Something Ventured' A Dry & Repetitive Look At The Money Behind Some Of The Biggest Tech Firms In History

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist May 15, 2012 at 10:01AM

From the outset, Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine's "Something Ventured" probably isn't something everybody will enjoy. A documentary about venture capitalists, you need to already have something of an interest about the money that has powered some of the greatest technological advancements of the past forty or fifty years. But even for those who are curious about the coin behind the creative minds, this slim documentary (that runs under 90 minutes) quickly falls into a repetitive, narrow minded rut.
0
Something Ventured

From the outset, Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine's "Something Ventured" probably isn't something everybody will enjoy. A documentary about venture capitalists, you need to already have something of an interest about the money that has powered some of the greatest technological advancements of the past forty or fifty years. But even for those who are curious about the coin behind the creative minds, this slim documentary (that runs under 90 minutes) quickly falls into a repetitive, narrow minded rut.

To be fair, the doc does get off to a great start, chronicling the origins of venture capitalism. Back in the late '50s/early '60s the very concept of independent financiers lending the money as the seed capital for fledgling businesses was unheard of. Banks were largely the place anyone wanting to start a business went to get a loan, but the problem was those institutions preferred sure things, instead of risky ventures where they might not get a return. Enter Arthur Rock, a junior banker who one day received a letter from a group of disgruntled engineers who were planning to leave en masse from Shockley Semiconductor, and they wrote to the bank looking for advice. Deciding to go off on their own and form a new company, Rock helped the group approach over 30 bigger corporations to see if they would help fund their endeavor, only to be firmly rebuffed. However, all was not lost and Rock was tipped to Sherman Fairchild, an entrepreneur who decided to lend the $1.5 million the engineers needed to strike out on their own. And the rest is history.

Something Ventured

Fairchild Semicoductor was essentially the first major company in the area we now know as Silicon Valley, and they helped kick off a tech wave that led to groundbreaking innovations and some of the grandest ideas that helped shape the world as we know it today. But from here, the doc really doesn't know where to go. Though the filmmakers talk to ten different venture capitalists, and discuss the founding of six different companies including Tandem, Atari, Genentech, Apple, PowerPoint and Cisco, the general narrative is more or less the same. The idea was risky, it needed some money, they provided it. The end. Watching ten old white guys talk about how they continually helped more white guys get rich quickly becomes....tedious. It becomes clear that these guys are about the money first and foremost and the innvoation second. Even at the beginning of the film, venture capitalist Tom Perkins makes it clear he looks at the numbers at the back of a business plan first and if they are big enough, then he will find out what exactly the concept is.

Toward the end of the movie, things pick up again when the discussions turns to Cisco, now one of the largest networking companies in the world. Co-founded by Sandy Lerner, she quickly saw the raw end of the deal that partnering with a venture capitalist can bring, as her fractious relationship with fellow co-workers at the company and the new executives led to her being fired within eighteen months of growing her business. And her story is hardly new in the tech world, where a regular rotation of CEOs and VPs is par for the course. Asked about this unwritten 18-month rule wherein key company figures are swapped out, the venture capitalists are mostly cagey, saying it isn't easy to fire someone, but not really discussing why they feel the need to do it, so soon after a company begins to spread its wings. You would think this would lead to a conversation about ethics, but instead unfortuantely, the directors don't really choose to go down that path.

Something Ventured

"Something Ventured" eventually winds up being a celebration of guys who have a lot of money and then decide to make more money by making some risky investments (although let's be clear, guys on this level aren't going to be losing their houses or cars if a deal goes south). The doc is mostly centered on how this kind of investing has driven technological achievements, but there isn't much discussion about how the future, which increasingly involves crowd-sourcing and other means of raising money, will change the game. Several tech ideas and concepts are now being built by communities of like minded individuals sharing resources and talent, and already the paradigm is shifting. After spending so much time with these old timers, many of whom are likely beyond retirement age, "Something Ventured" could have used a boost from the current generation, and where they see techology being funded and growing in the years to come. But alas, the documentary is ultimately a look at where we've been, not where we're going, and it's a nice -- if somewhat dry and routine -- story that only emphasizes that when it came to tech back in the day, the motto was C.R.E.A.M. [C]

"Something Ventured" is on DVD today.

This article is related to: Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates