Vivek Wadhwa’s battles a decade ago with venture capitalists while running Relativity in the Triangle created a lot of headlines as did his warnings about the dangers of VC money. He later moved on to academia after a near-fatal heart attack and found his niche as a writer and accomplished author. As his third book goes on sale, “The Driver in the Driverless Car,” Wadhwa talks about what he has learned in evolving from entrepreneur to author in the second part of an exclusive interview.
- What’s worse? Working with venture capitalists/investors or book publishers/editor?
Venture Capitalists are generally motivated by greed, their job requires them to put money ahead of everything else.
I have little respect for the people who choose this profession.
People who really want to help entrepreneurs can do better by being Angel investors and mentors. Editors and book publishers, on the other hand, may have their own biases, but their mission is to educate and uplift. They work to to create content that people want to read.
How can we compare these? One group is in it for themselves and greedy investors – who are just like them; the other wants to serve the public.
- How did you meet your coauthor and then decide to collaborate with him on the project? What is the biggest challenge in having a co-author as opposed to writing by yourself?
Rick, this goes back to the days when we first met, when I was a tech executive starting my second company, Relativity Technologies, in Cary, NC.
Alex Salkever was the hotshot tech editor of BusinessWeek. He had covered my company and was following my progress–until I had a massive heart attack and needed to something different.
I took a detour in Bollywood and told my friends on my private mailing list about it. He was on this and asked me to document my journey. He taught me how to write for business publications.
My columns did so well that BusinessWeek gave me a regular gig, even after I came back to my senses and became an academic.
Alex has long been my writing coach. I had asked him to help me with the transition to book author also, with Immigrant Exodus–my first book, which was named by The Economist as a book of the year in 2012, and now Driver in the Driverless Car.
When you have someone you trust to help you, as I had with Alex, it is easy. If you’re doing it for the first time, then writing a book is really, really hard.
- Having written three books now, is the process getting easier or more difficult? And why? Was this book a labor of love or a bear?
It is never easy, it is hard work. But it comes more naturally. I’ve now started work on my next book, about the jobless future we are headed into and how we can make the transition easier.
Here, I am working with a celebrity tech executive. Michael Fertik. We are going to be pooling our ideas because the questions we want to answer are so difficult and important.
- The continuing success you are having must be gratifying – but is it also humbling? You’ve come a long, long way.
Rick, I am the same person I was during the days I was struggling to start Relativity Technologies–before people knew who I was. After my heart attack, I learned how short-lived success and fame are.
One day, you are at the top of the world and the next you are in critical care in the hospital fighting for life. Everything can change anytime.
I learned that the only thing that matters is what you have done for others; how much you have given to the world.
This is why I try so hard to teach and inspire my students–and everyone else–to use their talent for good, for uplifting
humanity rather than some short-term gains.