- Paperback: 488 pages
- Publisher: Apress; 1st edition (March 11, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1430210788
- ISBN-13: 978-1430210788
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days Paperback – March 11, 2009
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About the Author
Jessica Livingston is a founding partner at Y Combinator, a seed-stage venture firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mountain View, California. She was previously vice president of marketing at investment bank Adams Harkness. In addition to her work with startups at Y Combinator, she organizes Startup School (www.StartupSchool.org). She has a bachelor's degree in English from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
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Top customer reviews
What surprised me most was how down-to-earth and normal most of these successful people were. Only a couple of them seemed full of themselves. The rest, surprisingly, were just the opposite. Their stories about their startup days provided insights into their values, motivations, aspirations, points of view, work ethic; as well as their worries, fears, doubts, and concerns; plus their approach to making tough decisions and a recognition of their personal limitations and flaws. Their interview responses are full of insights into their decisions about business development, product development, product management, pricing, promotion, distribution, customer service, technical support, accounting, finance, hiring and technology choices; and dealing with venture capitalists, business partners and actual or potential competitors.
The interviews also provide a lot of insights into technology trends and market trends during the time that the founders' companies were starting up.
Here are the companies whose founders were interviewed, in the order they appear in the book: PayPal, Hotmail, Apple, Excite, Software Arts, Lotus Development, Iris Associates, Groove Networks, Pyra Labs (Blogger.com), Yahoo, Research in Motion, Marimba, Gmail, WebTV, TiVo, Viaweb, del.icio.us, ONELIST, Bloglines, Craigslist, Flickr, WAIS, InternetArchive, Alexa, Adobe Systems, Open Systems, Hummer Winblad, 37signals, ArsDigita, Fog Creek Software, TripAdvisor, HOT or NOT, Tickle, Firefox, Six Apart, Lycos, Aliant Computer Systems, Shareholder.com.
This book is perfect for anyone interested in entrepreneurship, technology startups, technology companies in general, and business books in general. I've read the book once already and now I'm in the middle of reading it a second time. I wish there were an audio version of it.
Take away message for me: there are very few rules when it comes to founding a tech startup. Just be yourself, and toss the proverbial coin.
That being said, the quality of the book was great. It was full of all sorts of insights and experiences. They can all be summarized as don't give up, watch out for VC's but don't write them off, listen to your customers, be willing to change, make sure the initial founding team works together well, etc... But just listening the values does not do it justice. You really have to read the experiences. The book is full of all sorts of insights too, not just about entrepreneurship but also about the individual companies. For example I was really impressed about PayPal and the fraud stuff they did and how valuable that was. I just never knew. Overall I think the book was very well put together. Although some of the founders liked to talk a lot more than others and it droned on and on. But others were brief and insightful. I would definitely recommend this.
If I bought the print edition I suspect I would be giving it 5 stars. But really the kindle experience is probably worth 0 stars. But the content is so good that I figure 4 stars is fair. Since at this time I see hardcover editions for $5 or $6 new I would say go grab one of those now!!! The book is definitely inspirational.
Was trying to get the Kindle version as many reviews are based on that, but somehow it's no longer available :(
Attached is a picture I took with a page from this book. It actually reads worse than that due to the out of focus effect.