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Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days [Hardcover]

Jessica Livingston
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 26 2007

For would-be entrepreneurs, innovation managers or just anyone fascinated by the special chemistry and drive that created some of the best technology companies in the world, this book offers both wisdom and engaging insights—straight from the source.

— Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, and author of The Long Tail

"All the best things that I did at Apple came from (a) not having money and (b) not having done it before, ever." —Steve Wozniak, Apple

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now. What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an idea? Founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin (PayPal), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) tell you in their own words about their surprising and often very funny discoveries as they learned how to build a company.

Where did they get the ideas that made them rich? How did they convince investors to back them? What went wrong, and how did they recover?

Nearly all technical people have thought of one day starting or working for a startup. For them, this book is the closest you can come to being a fly on the wall at a successful startup, to learn how it's done.

But ultimately these interviews are required reading for anyone who wants to understand business, because startups are business reduced to its essence. The reason their founders become rich is that startups do what businessesdo—create value—more intensively than almost any other part of the economy. How? What are the secrets that make successful startups so insanely productive? Read this book, and let the founders themselves tell you.

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Product Description

About the Author

Jessica Livingston is a founding partner at Y Combinator, a seed-stage venture firm based in Cambridge, MA, and Mountain View, CA. She was previously VP of marketing at investment bank Adams Harkness. In addition to her work with startups at Y Combinator, she organizes Startup School. She has a BA in English from Bucknell.

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Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book despite poor implementation April 26 2007
At last, we can have a peek at the life in the early stage of a

successful startup. Jessica Livingston interviewed several leaders of

the digital age. She takes us from the very beginning when there is

just a handful of founder and no one else to the culmination of the

exercise: IPO, acquisition, or commercial domination.

The stories are really interesting, unfortunately this book could use a

lot more editing. We get the interview verbatim, including the

praises by Livingston and the polite acknowledgments. When the

interview diverges, she is slow to bring it back on track; I really

was looking forward to the story of Wozniak, most of it end up in

technical details on the Apple II and few insights regarding the

startup. Some people are really terse and Livingston just go through

her list of questions without asking for more details.

If there was another book, the poor editing might lead to recommend it

instead. But there is no other book. This is the only book where you

learn about the pain and the joy of the first few years of those

companies. This is the only book where you can receive the advice of

the most successful founders. This is a book that must be read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Learn how successful companies came to be Jan. 7 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is fascinating, simply for its format. Its broken down into 33 separate chapters, each showcasing interviews with founders of very successful tech companies. The interviews are thought provoking, tantalizingly aware, and mostly forthright.

I take some issue with the book's statement that "ultimately these interviews are required reading for anyone who wants to understand business". This is not the book for those who want to learn how to start a business. It will not teach you what you should and shouldn't do when starting a business. The value of this book is in its motivational and inspirational tone - a tone that emanates from the entrepreneurial spirit of the interviewees. Many people wonder what it takes to become rich and ridiculously successful, and this book does a great job in showcasing how a myriad of different individuals did just that. This book would read well for those already familiar with business looking for inspiration. Look elsewhere for guidance on how-to make it as an entrepreneur.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Words From Best Founders March 5 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is like a small notepad containing all the background information you wanted to know about the entrepreneurs of the best companies and how they were invented. You can never be wrong about your notes, just as you can never go wrong with this book. It wasn't a boring book, it felt like watching interviews in my imagination.
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