From Publishers Weekly
In this clear-eyed collection of case studies, Fast Company contributing writer and NYU journalism professor Penenberg examines the engine driving the growth of web 2.0 businesses like Flickr, YouTube and eBay to Facebook and Twitter: the viral loop. The concept behind a viral loop is simple-in order to use the product, you have to spread it, thus creating massive, user-driven growth cycles-after all, Penenberg explains, social networks like Facebook are worthless to a user if one's friends aren't also using the products. Viral loops are nothing new, of course, and Penenberg has certainly done his homework, tracing the concept back through its analog roots via entertaining and enlightening anecdotes about companies like Tupperware, which used "parties" to turn ordinary housewives into an army of sales reps, to Charles Ponzi-yes, he of the Ponzi scheme, a viral scam recently taken to historic levels by Bernie Madoff. Penenberg truly succeeds, however, in showing how the viral loop has found its groove on the Internet, fueling a wave of billion-dollar companies all built on word of mouth-and, of course, user clicks. Solidly researched and briskly-written, Penenberg at once captures a great business and tech story, as well as a defining moment in our online culture.
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"Penenberg has unlocked the secret to the most successful digital businesses. An indispensable read."—Robert Safian, Editor-in-Chief, Fast Company
"Instead of entrusting your business to a guru with an agenda and a ghostwriter, you should be turning to a pro journalist like Adam Penenberg, who understands the way media and money interact, has the critical faculty to engage with these phenomena in an unbiased fashion, and the technical facility to explain them to you in an entirely engaging, informative, and actionable way."—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Media Virus and Life Inc: How the world became a corporation and how to take it back
"Penenberg discovers the perpetual motion machine for business and marketing. . . . Buy this book. Catch a virus. Make a fortune."—Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?
"If you want to understand all things viral, this is the place to start. Penenberg's reporting gives us a ringside seat to some of the biggest viral success stories in history, from Tupperware to Ning."—Dan Heath, coauthor of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
"One of the most astounding things about the Web age is how the best advertising is often no advertising at all. Penenberg masterfully explains how this works with case studies of products that were designed to spread. Every product can use a dose of this technique; this is the book to get to learn how."—Chris Anderson, author of Free: The Future of a Radical Price
"Adam Penenberg's lively book opens a window to all of our futures."—Ken Auletta, author of Googled: The End of the World as We Know It
"In tight engaging prode, Penenberg captures the essence of the ever-scaling power of the virus. It's not just for geeks anymore."—Seth Godin, author of Tribes