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Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure Paperback


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Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure + Innovator's Toolkit: 10 Practical Strategies to Help You Develop and Implement Innovation (Harvard Business Essentials) + The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140257314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140257311
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The founder of the visionary, yet doomed, GO Corporation kept notes throughout his years at the helm, thinking that one day he would produce a book. It shows. This is a vivid and lively rise-and-fall account of a company born to create a pen-based computer. It begins on a corporate jet with the author and fellow industry visionary Mitchell Kapor, founder of Lotus, sharing a vision of pen computing. From there, Startup quickly leaps to the day-to-day challenges of hiring staff, constantly reassessing and readjusting goals, and coping with the stress of endless rounds of venture capital funding. That Kaplan, in his first attempt at running a company, battles with the top forces at Microsoft, IBM, and other industry giants to bring the idea to market, only makes the story more compelling. His company's ultimate failure says more about a cutthroat industry than about the quality of Kaplan's product. This is a real David and Goliath tale. If you've ever wondered why things go right or wrong, how competition can kill you, or how financing really works within a small startup, read this book!

From Publishers Weekly

Entrepreneur Kaplan describes the tribulations he faced while forming his own company in the computer industry.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Mr Jerry Kaplan wrote this book very well.
Socrates Socrates
I missed many "bedtimes" when reading this book and I highly recommend it if you're interested in business stories, start-ups, or technology stories.
M. Saunders
Reading "Startup" was like sitting next to these people in a bar -- Jerry's handsome writing, full of humor, really brought them to life.
J. Fu

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By David A. Bethune on December 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this because I read an interview with Mark Andreesen (co-inventor of the browser) in which he shared kind words for Kaplan's memoirs. Having seen the Netscape debacle from its inception to its consumption by AOL, I take Mark as a reliable source on startups and corporate deals.
Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure has much to recommend. Andreesen points out (and I paraphrase) that no one will tell you the real secrets of how their business succeeded; these have to be learned from observing failures and reading between the lines. Jerry Kaplan's GO Corporation was a failure -- a collosal one. At the end of GO's life, its staff were not surprised to see it go... away. The watercooler scuttlebut focused on how unusual it was that GO survived as long as it did -- considering it had no products, no market (and no marketing), constant financial troubles and, to complete the drama: Bill Gates in the role of surreptitious competitor.
Jerry Kaplan describes in diary-like detail how he and fellow industry visionary Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus) conceived the idea of portable, pen-based computers in a spontaneous moment of shared epiphany during a private jet flight. Here was an idea seemingly out of nowhere: no one had thought of pen computers up to this point. None existed, and none were being developed -- a market vacuum of seemingly unimaginable proportions. The sad irony of Jerry's tale is that when GO was finally absorbed by AT&T and immediately beheaded, only the proportions of this unimaginable market remained. The market itself and the products to drive it never materialized.
Kaplan gives a harrowing behind-the-scenes account of how startup venture capital is *really* enjoined -- and its not what you think.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Allan Heydon on January 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Startup tells the story of the rise and fall of GO Corporation, a maker of pen-based computer hardware and software. GO was founded in 1987 based on the idea that lightweight portable computers that used a pen instead of a keyboard would be quite useful devices, and that entirely new operating system software would be required to run them.
From the outset, the company faced a major problem: their main product was a pen-friendly operating system, but the device for which their software was targetted did not exist! Back then, the so-called portable computers were affectionately referred to as "luggables", and they all came with a keyboard. So to demonstrate the benefits of their software, GO was forced to spend its early precious resources developing its own pen computers. It was 3.5 years before the hardware group was spun out into a separate company called EO and bought by AT&T.
Kaplan's book is an interesting no-holds-barred account of the hectic start-up life and the cut-throat business world. To succeed, GO required a variety of partnerships, from hardware vendors to ISVs. In the course of wooing companies to help them, they rubbed shoulders with such big technology companies as IBM, Apple, HP, Microsoft, and AT&T. Negotiating with and placating the IBM bureaucracy turned into a major ordeal, and Microsoft's unethical theft of GO's intellectual property allowed Microsoft to become a competitive threat long before they otherwise should have been.
GO's other serious problem was that, in its 7+ years of existence, it never realized any significant product revenue. As a result, Kaplan was constantly scrounging for new investment money and was forced to make large concessions to get it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Straub on August 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
In Startup, Go's Jerry Kaplan (better known for his later success with onsale.com) recounts how he and his team built the company from an idea, and how due to internal politics and competition the walls came tumbling down.
Kaplan takes us through the twists and turns of forming a company, describing, in detail, how he secured venture capital and found Go's first few key people. He comments extensively on the changing competitive landscape throughout Go's history. The EO spin-off, IBM and AT&T deals and all other major events in Go's life are detailed. The book is a quick read, written like a first person novel, not a stuffy business book.
The book's biggest flaw, however, is that it is written entirely from Kaplan's perspective. Throughout, he blames situation, competitors and others for the various problems that Go encountered; Kaplan though, fails to review his own actions and how they may have contributed to Go's demise -- unfortunately this could have been the most beneficial analysis: allowing us to learn from what Kaplan perceived as his mistakes.
Over all, Startup is well written, and a "must read" for anyone working for or contemplating starting a tech company.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Fu on January 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read Kaplan's book over 3 years ago, and still consider it the best book on entrepreneurship that I have ever encountered.

Having met a lot of entrepreneurs, I find their experiences to be mostly incommunicable. Sure, they can dispense advice a la bulleted PowerPoint slides and Top 10 Lists, but the meat of the wisdom never quite make it out of their head into mine. This is where "Startup" the book excels. Because Jerry was so meticulous in recording every bit of his startup adventure (for he had intended to record GO's life in writing nearly from the very beginning), his book alone has an incredible amount of valuable detail that is lacking in other such startup "memoirs." Startup is so well-done as a "memoir" type, in leaving nothing out, that I felt like I was living through the experience along with Jerry. What is it like to operate a company with real employees, who have real personalities, real disagreements, real visions and real limitations? What is it like to have to put the rest of your life on hold to pursue your passion and what does it do to you and those around you mentally, physically? Jerry won't tell you these things, but he will show you. Because Jerry's story is real, these conflicts fold so naturally and almost imperceptibly, but often devastatingly -- just like in real life. Jerry's detractors say that he made some terrible decisions -- and maybe he did, but the only reason you know that is because he lets it be known. He really bares all in this book and I didn't feel like there was a single moment when he was trying to pull something over the reader's head.
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