Source of book image: http://www.charlesandsamwyly.com/images/1000-dollars-and-an-idea.jpg
I sometimes divide entrepreneurs into two broad types: free agent entrepreneurs and innovative entrepreneurs. Free agent entrepreneurs are the self-employed. Innovative entrepreneurs are the agents of Schumpeter’s process of creative destruction.
Then there are entrepreneurs like Sam Wyly who don’t fit very well in either category.
He built or improved businesses in ways that made the world better, but usually did not involve breakthrough innovations.
Like many of the entrepeneurs considered in Amar Bhidé’s main books, Wyly grew businesses that served consumers, enriched investors and created jobs. Some of his most important start-ups, especially early-on, involved computer services. And his efforts to compete with the government-backed AT&T monopoly, were heroic.
I read the 2008 version of his autobiography a few months ago, and found that it contained a few stories and observations that are worth pondering. In the next few weeks I will briefly quote a few of these.
The 2008 Wyly autobiography is:
Wyly, Sam. 1,000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire. New York: Newmarket Press, 2008.
I have not read the 2011 version of Wyly’s autobiography:
Wyly, Sam. Beyond Tallulah: How Sam Wyly Became America’s Boldest Big-Time Entrepreneur. New York: Melcher Media, 2011.
The dominant examples in Bhidé’s two main books are entrepreneurs like Wyly. The two main Bhidé books are:
Bhidé, Amar. The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Bhidé, Amar. The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.