“A well-designed thriller that I didn’t want to put down! “ — Nicolas Colin, author of Hedge
“This is a real book! You wrote this?” – My daughter
Here’s a very short mystery for you: How does a male venture capitalist find himself penning a guest post for a blog named “Ladies of Mystery?”
Murder at First Principles, my debut novel, is a Silicon Valley murder mystery told from the first-person point of view of a young woman, Addie Morita. Addie is a frustrated junior staffer at the Northern California Computer Crime Task Force, questioning her decision to enter public service rather than the lavish startup industry that has swept up her friends and former classmates from a prestigious local college, when her life takes a sudden turn. One by one, former classmates show up in body bags, and soon Addie receives anonymous, taunting messages with hints about the crimes. Addie must match wits with both the mysterious killer, potential suspects and a stubborn, famed Special Agent, Hope Pearson, as she pursues her “big break” and tries to break the case.
Female readers have been the biggest fans of Murder at First Principles so far. While my stated purpose in writing the novel was to enlighten and entertain, with startup business strategies woven into the plot, the story is engaging and electrifying for any mystery lover.
I decided to make the two main characters female to break the stereotypical “detective drama” format and make the two characters’ contrasts and tensions poignant and dramatic. Like most people in the real world, Addie, Hope and the rest of the diverse cast of characters have things to hide, cloudy motivations and challenges to overcome.
Ironically, as a male writer, writing from the POV of a woman drove me to greater clarity. I have found in other contexts, as I write male characters, that I am prone to take certain traits, motivations or thought processes for granted. Writing Addie’s story forced me to get to know her first. The process of figuring her out, as opposed to starting to write assuming I was, or knew, the main character myself, made the writing a joyful and enriching experience, and produced a superior product.
Murder at First Principles is not just about women, it benefits women. Proceeds from my books support FemForward, a nonprofit with which I’m affiliated that promotes young women in tech.
Seth Godin says “Art is generosity.” Murder at First Principles is my mischievous, rollicking, topsy-turvy gift to mystery lovers. It will keep you turning pages and guessing, up to the very end.
Murder at First Principles
Addie Morita, a frustrated young crime researcher, finally gets her big career break when a serial killer targets her successful former classmates from an elite San Francisco Bay Area college. Addie must match wits with both the taunting killer and the intimidating Special Agent assigned to the case, racing to decipher key clues buried in a famous startup strategy book — before it’s too late.
Murder at First Principles is the debut Startup Fiction novel by successful venture capitalist Ben Wiener. Written as a murder mystery, the plot is designed to enlighten and entertain, introducing readers to Hamilton Helmer’s iconic work, 7 Powers, and its seven market-proven strategies for sustained competitive advantage. Every suspect in this story is hiding something — strap yourself in and try to uncover their secrets while discovering the secret “powers” innovative businesses harness to create persistent differential returns.
Ben Wiener is a venture capitalist and author. He founded and manages Jumpspeed Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund, and he has authored two full-length novels, Murder at First Principles and the forthcoming Fever Pitch. His motivation for writing is to “enlighten and entertain.” In addition to his novels he has published a number of short stories and humor essays.
Ben grew up in Allentown, PA and graduated (with honors) from Columbia Law School. He clerked on Israel’s Supreme Court and practiced corporate law in New York City and Tel Aviv. He moved permanently to Israel with his young family and co-founded his first software startup in 1999. Ben worked for a variety of startups and larger companies before founding Jumpspeed Ventures in 2014.
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