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 mobile phone number.
The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World Hardcover – Large Print, January 31, 2017
|New from||Used from|
Springer Science Sale
Explore featured applied science titles on sale.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
An Amazon Best Book of February 2017: Brad Stone has a gift for unwrapping the mythology around a company's origins and making its actual origins—and growth and flubs and pivot points—far more fascinating than the mythology ever could be. In The Upstarts, Stone tackles the genesis of Airbnb and Uber, two companies that have woven themselves into the daily lives of people around the globe in less than ten years. Too many books spotlight a company's wise decisions and business victories, making success seem almost inevitable. In contrast, Stone gives Uber's and Airbnb's mistakes as much room on the page as its scrappy triumphs, allowing a far more complex story to build. Interwoven among the highlights and lowlights are innovation incubators, dirty tricks, desperation among VC investors to not miss the Next Big Thing, competitors' bright ideas, and the strikingly different personalities of the two companies' young leaders. But this is a book without an ending, because Airbnb and Uber are still evolving, making their long-term effect on their industries hard to predict. Timely, clear-eyed, and crisply written, The Upstarts is a must for readers seeking insight into how ideas and eventually businesses can succeed or fail in a technology-rich landscape. —Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Praise for The Upstarts
One of Amazon's Top Ten Books of February 2017
"Brad Stone's The Upstarts reads like a detective story: A page turning who-did-it on the creation of billion dollar fortunes and the ruthless murder of traditional businesses. No single book will tell you more about what life feels like inside companies like Airbnb and Uber as they grow from mere ideas into merciless machines for innovation, riches and unease. The sweat. The stress. The power highs of new instant fortunes. It's all here. You won't be able to put The Upstarts down. And when you finally do, you'll look at your own company and career in a totally fresh way."―Joshua Cooper Ramo, author of The Seventh Sense
"In The Upstarts, Brad Stone has vividly captured the cultural and economic upheaval brought about by the latest generation of Internet superpowers. His book is a magnificent expose of how companies like Uber and Airbnb came to be, the people that profited and lost out along the way and the ramifications that this technology will have on the world for decades to come. Stone remains the preeminent chronicler of the Internet Age and a master story teller."―Ashlee Vance, author of Elon Musk
"Brad Stone gives us a lively, fascinating picture of the new new thing in technology - startups like Uber and Airbnb that are disrupting old businesses across the world. He provides a much needed glimpse into the companies that fail as well as the ones that make it big. And he points to the broad policy issues raised by these new technologies, which are surely no fun for the people whose lives are being disrupted."―Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World and host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS"
"With precision, wit, and insight, Brad Stone tells the tale of two very different CEOs whose skills, innovations and willingness to pursue a totally crazy idea toppled two very different industries. No one in business today can afford to miss this compelling tale of trust, technology, and very big piles of loot."―Steven Levy, author of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
"Over the last few years, Silicon Valley has become the new Wall Street. Brad Stone introduces us to the new tech Masters of the Universe, a collection of characters that are just as insatiable as the robber barons of finance, and even more entertaining."―Rana Faroohar, author of Makers and Takers
"Stone charts the transformation of Silicon Valley since 2008, and he writes winningly of how people with good-commercially if not ethically-ideas can take them from inspiration to reality. In this aspect alone, the book makes highly useful reading for budding entrepreneurs, who should also take Stone's point that the winners in this Darwinian struggle were the players who studied the market exhaustively to figure out just the right angle of entry.... There is also plenty to pepper the ire of anyone who's not on board with the thought that a speculator, alive with realization of 'lost utility,' can build a robust economy on the backs of others alone. And, as the author notes, these new Silicon Valley firms seem to represent 'the overweening hubris of the techno-elite' as much as they represent a disruption of the service sector... Stone's account is illuminating reading for the business-minded."―Kirkus
"Stone (The Everything Store) turns his attention to the sharing economy in this dual portrait of two of the fastest growing startups...At both Uber, the ride-sharing app, and Airbnb, the homestay rental platform, Stone finds commonality among the CEOs, who lead their respective companies with an idealistic vision and aggressive business practices... Solid and the sheer magnitude of the book's subjects demands attention."―Publishers Weekly
"A fun, briskly told narrative... 'The Upstarts' is not the end of the story but an excellent history of the beginning."―Alex Tabarrok, Wall Street Journal
"Stone brings a big dose of truth serum to the marvels and machinations of the sharing economy and its founders.... 'The Upstarts' is rich with inside details"―George Anders, Forbes
"Technology writer Brad Stone chronicles [Uber and Airbnb's] swift rise to the corporate stratosphere, juxtaposing visionary zeal with the often deep impacts they've left in their wakes... The book is a timely reminder that pushing the digital realm into the physical can disrupt communities as well as the competition."―Nature Magazine
"The most detailed investigation yet into the early years of these Silicon Valley prodigies... an entertaining and well-crafted account."―Leslie Hook, Financial Times
"With a detailed and revealing account of the companies' rise and commentary on why they succeeded in the way they did, Brad Stone's newest read is interesting, informed and oh-so-timely."―Ashley Macey, Brit + Co
"The Upstarts is a testament to grit-lots and lots of it-and, yes, luck. It's quite a good read."―Brenda Jubin, Investing.com
"[Stone] amply illustrates that for every tech champion, there is a forgotten crowd of decapitated competitors, pissed-off investors, defenestrated founders and unrewarded early employees... where Stone really succeeds is in providing the reader with the visceral experience of the start-up enterprise."―Antonio Garcia-Martinez, Washington Post
Praise for The Everything Store
Winner of the 2013 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award
SELECTED AS A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST, FORBES, THE NEW REPUBLIC, THE ECONOMIST, BLOOMBERG, AND GIZMODO, AND AS ONE OF THE TOP 10 INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM BOOKS OF 2013 BY NIEMAN REPORTS
"Mr. Stone tells this story with authority and verve, and lots of well-informed reporting.... A dynamic portrait of the driven and demanding Mr. Bezos."―Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Engrossing.... Stone's long tenure covering both Bezos and Amazon gives his retelling a sureness that keeps the story moving swiftly."―New York Times Book Review
"Jeff Bezos is one of the most visionary, focused, and tenacious innovators of our era, and like Steve Jobs he transforms and invents industries. Brad Stone captures his passion and brilliance in this well-reported and compelling narrative."―Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
"A deeply reported and deftly written book.... Like Steven Levy's "In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives," and "Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry -- and Made Himself the Richest Man in America" by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews, it is the definitive account of how a tech icon came to life."―Seattle Times
"Stone's book, at last, gives us a Bezos biography that can fit proudly on a shelf next to the best chronicles of America's other landmark capitalists."―Forbes
Top Customer Reviews
The book works on multiple levels: a detailed and fascinating behind the scenes revelations of how of the two biggest, most transformative companies started, grew, and operated; as a business book sure to be appreciated by entrepreneurs and managers of all stripes; as a partial champion and partially careful critique of the tech culture and nascent sharing economy; and as a ripping good yarn that anyone who likes a good story can appreciate.
What sets this book apart from others is that Stone is a real reporter, highly respected and renowned in the tech industry, with a long career of success, including his last best seller, The Everything Store about Jeff Bezos and amazon. Unlike some other books about these companies — including one solely on Airbnb that is about to be released and for which i read an excerpt in Fortune — Stone’s book isn’t pure hagiography or a trifling puff piece that feels like it was written by the P.R. departments of Uber or Airbnb. There is real, nuanced, and sometimes critical reporting being done here.
Perhaps, too, that leads to the one critique of this otherwise superb book: Stone is so careful and measured in his tone and approach — never allowing his opinions to overshadow the known facts — that sometimes I wished he was more daring in speculating about what it all means, and the possibly dystopian ways it could all shake out down the road. But of course, in this dark day and age, there’s something to be said for a media member who is careful in his approach, so it’s hard to ding him too hard for sticking to the known facts and allowing the reader to draw some of our own conclusions.
That said, if you are interested in these two companies, starting or growing a company of your own, the tech industry in specific or business in general, the ins and outs of the new sharing economy, or just some compelling human interest, this is surely the new must-read book on the subject.
Did it address any of the big issues about the sharing economy?
Let’s put it this way: the author is very clearly aware of all the questions that come up. The narrative is always set in the context of the impact the sharing economy is having on all of us: those who work in it, those who share in it (and often would not have access to some rather basic services without it), those who invest in it, those who are fighting it, those who win from it and those who stand to lose.
But “The Upstarts” is not an economics book or a sociology text.
If you’re buying it to find out what’s about to happen to the hotel industry in North America (my take: 5% of the world’s population / 42% of the world’s hotel rooms before AirBnb came out of nowhere, you do the math), you’ve come to the wrong place. If you ordered the book to look for an analysis of how much unpaid tax is being transferred from heretofore protected cab drivers to the city hall and if the rest of us are left better off or worse off, again, you’ve come to the wrong place. Funky observations about how in London AirBnb is threatened with a ceiling on days while in New York it’s having to deal with a floor are conspicuous through their absence.
The book does not particularly dwell on the long-term either. The rather rude fact that all money ever made from taxis has historically come from exercising market power? Look elsewhere. Uber and AirBnb’s prospects of dominating markets with only limited network effects? Pass.
There’s good news here, though:
If you bought “The Upstarts” to get to know Travis Kalanick and Brian Chesky, if you’d like to ride with them from their ramen noodle eating days to the David Guetta-DJ’d super parties, you have come to the right place. You could not possibly be in better hands than Brad Stone’s.
If this book (which, let’s admit it, is a business book) had been written as a novel, it would still be pretty awesome. You get fed new faces only when they help develop the story and they’re woven into the narrative at a pace that will not leave you guessing. There is significant character development here too, as you witness young idealists transform into steely capitalists and, if you’re paying attention, there’s a bonus waiting for you in the shape of an mini-course in entrepreneurship!
The author is not afraid to tell you why these guys are doing the winning, but he does not want to you take his word. He does the necessary work to get the view out of somebody else’s mouth. The director of Y Combinator, for example, leaves you in no doubt that the founders of AirBnb succeeded for one reason only: they were “cockroaches” who refused to die. So they kept it alive long enough on their own, until their “world is my oyster, I’m busy on a million better things” Harvard-grad, former teenage spamming industry millionaire friend deigned to turn his magic to their project. Significantly, the author is NOT making it up as he goes, he knows it all and he knows it first-hand. He’s on first-name basis with everybody in the industry that counts and he has not been shy about getting the story straight from the horse’s mouth, doing his own “cockroach” thing and stalking the young CEOs to the other side of the globe if that is what it will take to get an audience.
I’m sure a lot of the detail is how “the good guys” see it (for example, do we really believe it was Travis who broke up with his girlfriend?) but the point is Brad Stone is only ever quoting first-hand here. He really is the man to write this story and he tells it in a style that would leave Quentin Tarantino breathless, jumping from Uber to AirBnb, via Zimride and Didi and all the regulators and competitors too. “Jumping” as in jumping and “jumping” as in tracking them all down to talk to them and giving them their chance to tell their story. It’s tremendous stuff. It never sags, it never lets up and it brings it all the way up to a couple hours before publication.
Anything I didn’t like? Actually, yes: how about editing out every single instance of “this turned out to be the best investment he / she / it had ever made!” Not only does it get tiring, but most of these guys have not yet taken profit, have they? The story is compelling enough on its own, besides.