on 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.
on January 7, 2014
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.
What we have here are interviews of 32 founders of start-up companies, interviewed by Jessica Livingston. To most readers, few of the names are familiar (e.g. Steve Wozniak and Apple Computer) and the interviews will often seem rambling, poorly edited, etc. That is a fair reaction. However, they have the value of being extemporaneous rather than "sanitized." However different the start-ups' circumstances were and however different their founders' perspectives on those circumstances may be, there are common themes: naiveté, almost unlimited enthusiasm, little (if any) fear of failure, and especially, a rock-solid faith in what could be accomplished. Those with an ability to read between the lines will also develop a sense that most of the founders do not second-guess themselves when recalling their blunders.
To me, the greatest single value of this book is that we are learning about 32 start-ups from eyewitness accounts provided by those centrally involved. True, human memory can often be selective and on occasion self-serving. Nonetheless, these founders (with few exceptions) seem to be making a sincere effort to "tell it like it was" without aid of a ghostwriter or even an editor with special talents for clarity and (especially) concision.
Of special interest to me are the interviews of Craig Newmark (Craigslist), Blake Ross (Firefox), Paul Buchheit (Gmail), Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail), Mitchell Kapor (Lotus Development), Max Levchin (PayPal), Mike Ramsay (TiVo), and Tim Brady (Yahoo). Of course, each reader must determine for herself and himself which interviews are most interest and, perhaps more to the point, which interviews are most valuable to those who about to launch a new company or have only recently done so.
on July 21, 2009
This book is great and easy to read. You can choose and read the interviews that interest you the most.
Many books on business startup focus on mostly principles and lack real examples. However, this book focuses on real examples from large successful and famous organizations.
I would have given it 5 stars if it had follow up comments after each interview to elaborate on the lessons learned with reference to some principles that should be considered when starting a business.
I recommend this book to be read after understanding some important business principles, such as the ones outlined by Guy Kawasaki in his book "The Art of Start".
on March 5, 2013
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.