Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet Paperback – June 15, 1999
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Wolff's story could easily have been bitter but is instead both fascinating and hilarious. Wolff's money-losing company's negotiations with Magellan--a search-engine company that Wolff eventually discovers is also financially unstable--are comical. The scene where key big shots from a major publisher fall all over Wolff in their eagerness to buy an all-but-worthless name and database are a complete farce. Wolff is by no means above showing his own foibles. Some of the book's best parts are where he shows himself swept up in the intoxicating flow of a deal and calls home to report developments to his wife. She promptly translates the nonsense into sobering reality.
Wolff takes plenty of time off from his personal journey to explore significant events in the development of cyberculture, such as the transition of Louis Rosetto from a least-likely-to-succeed publisher into the creator of the revolutionary Wired magazine. He chronicles the emergence of America Online from dark horse to dominance, while the efforts of companies expected to be major contenders fade into the background.
His candid view shows it all--the oddball characters in expensive shirts and T-shirts, the crazy dealing, the exhilaration, the heartbreak, and the fear. This would be a wonderful work of satirical fiction if it weren't actually true. --Elizabeth Lewis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
If you read some of the pissy and not so pissy backstory pieces that came out after his book, you're told that he abandoned his employees for his own needs (true, but after many months of pretty much shredding cash, and without any short-term or long-term hope of success). You're also told that he manufactured people, incidents, dialog. Hard to say without having been there. But I've met many people like the people Wolff describes, and I don't doubt that they would act precisely as they are acting in reaction to the book, including denying everything whether true or false.
Brill's Content ran an extremely fatuous piece back in October 1998 that moves me to profanity when I read it; it's attack journalism without balance. The piece quoted many parties' gripes with the book without confirmation except from other parties with gripes. Wolff wrote a pretty funny story about getting the pin stuck in him as Brill tried to maneuver him into the formaldehyde.
It's still unclear to me why people don't want to believe his account of events. I don't know if it's true, but my descent into the Internet maelstrom, during which I met or worked with many interesting content and ecommerce types, confirms the tenor of what he describes. I'm inclined to think that a little dramatic license and a lot of fact inform the book.
A number of reviewers (and Amazon.com customers) describe Wolff's ego as enormous. I don't see it.Read more ›
A book like this will always receive negative reviews from types who can't trust the motives of anyone who didn't come out a winner, but these same people readily accept as gospel any puff piece that states Steve Case's visionary genius built AOL rather than the marketing side kick with the simple idea sneak into American homes and fill the sock drawers with start up disks. Not every story is pretty, not every success is the inevitable result of brilliance and elbow grease. Do not write off this work because Wolff's business didn't work out. Rather, enjoy his sadder but wiser perspective. Enjoy a glimpse of everything that happens to successes, also, but somehow never makes it into the Business Week cover story.
He has great chapters on Wired magazine, on AOL, on Microsoft, and on his own attempts to secure venture capital for his company. The third chapter, "The Art of the Deal," was hysterically funny and thoroughly horrifying at the same time. At first I thought, reminiscing, that I was at perfectly the right age to have taken advantage of the Internet boom, if I'd had the presence of mind. But then, as I read further, I became more and more relieved that I'd never done so.
This book was published before most of the recent upheavals in the Internet world: The ascendancy and hegemony of IE in the browser wars (after Netscape effectively abdicated); AOL's ill-fated acquisition of Time Warner; and, of course, the "dot-bomb" to which many of us owe our current unemployed status. The book, therefore, lacks the scope and perspective of a historical document, but is very much a "view from the trenches" look at the way it seemed to a smart and thoughtful (and literary) guy who was there.
One of my primary reactions was of nostalgia. Ah, remember when AOL was Mac-only? Not only that, but it was only one of several available online communities: Delphi, Prodigy, CompuServe, Sierra... Remember when it seemed like there were only five of us who knew that AOL and the Internet were not the same thing? Remember when there was no Web? Remember when there was no Amazon.com?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I don't know much about the author. But he wrote too verbosely about too obvious things.
Doesn't have a sincerity.
Great read. For someone like me who was too young for the first Tech bubble it provides good insight into what people were thinking at the time.Published 15 months ago by Simon J Newton
"The Burn Rate " starts quite slow for the first half of the book. Things pick up a little, but the big problem is no one knows really understands where the whole internet... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Carol Schreiber
It's about that time about ten years ago - those thrilling days of yesteryear - when the Web was new, that's the time well captured in Burn Rate by Michael Wolff. Read morePublished on August 25, 2006 by Jack Vaughan
While I don't know the whole story, Wolff seems to have a lot of experience, and little business smarts. Read morePublished on April 6, 2006 by themblues
I really liked this book and got to learn about the hardships entrepreneurs go through in a startup. Read morePublished on January 29, 2004 by Romin Cyrus Irani
Next up: How Donald Trump survived his Daddy's money, How Nelson Rockefeller survived the shadow of his family's name, how George Bush survived his years of failing oil... Read morePublished on August 16, 2003 by Amazon Customer
As a former worker in the Internet world, I found this book both a juicy read, and laugh-out-loud (lol) funny. Wolff spares no one in this account, least of all himself. Read morePublished on June 12, 2003 by Julia L. Wilkinson
The main thing I took away from this book was how impressed I was by Wolff's writing skills. He has a very absorbing way to describe people and events. Read morePublished on April 18, 2002 by brazos49