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Founders at Work

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  7,934 ratings  ·  175 reviews
Now available in paperback with a new preface and interview with "Jessica Livingston " about Y Combinator

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups Early Days is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now. What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an ide
Paperback, 492 pages
Published February 28th 2009 by Springer-Verlag New York, LLC (first published 2001)
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Otis Chandler
Aug 27, 2007 Otis Chandler rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: entrepreneurs
Shelves: business, nonfiction
Loved every second of this book. Each chapter is a different story of a startup founder. I read it slowly so it wouldn't end, and read many chapters twice. My biggest take was that most founders didn't necessarily know what they were doing - or even that they were on to something big. But they were all determined to start a company - that was the only thing they all had in common.

Here are some good quotes from the book:

"I'd say determination is the single most important quality in a startup foun
Another great book, so great I decide to write this post even if I have not finished reading it: Jessica Livingston in Founders at Work has interviewed 32 entrepreneurs about their story. The lessons are convincing, fascinating. Without asking for copyright, I copy here some quotes. The book is just a pleasure to read even if sometimes the Q&A are too specific about the start-up, but I assume it is part of the exercise. A Must-Read.

Paul Buchheit, creator of Gmail about Risk Taking

As I say, f
Paul Rivera
Jun 04, 2007 Paul Rivera rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: entrepreneurs
everyone has a bad day/week/month.
fascinating first-hand accounts from founders of now-ubiquitous companies: hotmail, gmail, paypal, yahoo stores, hotornot, apple, etc etc. strangely, the technical aspect is rarely the most difficult part of the company - most of the founders say marketing the product was crazy hard.

interesting factoids you'll pick up from reading the book:
* hotornot was implemented in an afternoon to rate some random girl one of the founders had seen recently. the site spread virally and they had over 50,000 pa
Arjun Balaji
I wish there was a 4.5 on Goodreads. This book came into my hands highly recommended by several people and when I received it as a gift, I devoured it. Most of the advice in this book is timeless, and any fan of Paul Graham's essays will really enjoy this.

However, to me (an 18y old, reading in 2013), a lot of the interviews in the book, while interesting, were a bit dated. Because of how much the VC landscape (how money is raised, how interactions are had with VCs, etc), the cost of technology
Saurabh Jain
This one is a brilliant, brilliant book.
I'm so glad I picked it up and it's worth every paisa of the 450 bucks I paid for it.

If you think you are the entrepreneur kinds, this book is a must read.

If you haven't started your company as yet, it might just push you to do it - and for those who have started it and are getting completely sloshed by the experience, it shines a nice bright light on you - letting you know that eventually everything will work out -- and even the biggest companies today we
Pat Rondon
I gave this a chance in spite of being fairly tired of the hype about startups, and I'm glad I did. It's a bit long, and some of the stories go nowhere --- some are, essentially, "I went to college, I started a company, it lasted a while and then it went out of business", spread over four pages --- but there are more than enough interesting stories here to make for a worthwhile read.

I'm ambivalent about the focus on (largely consumer) computing startups. On the one hand, this gives the book cohe
Fascinating stories about early days of pre-2008 technology companies like Apple, Blogger, TripAdvisor, etc. Some of them were absolute gems worth a 6-star review, others that got into fine details about uninteresting stuff by today's standards (technical aspects of hardware in early '80s) needed faster page flipping. But all in all a must-read for early stage startup founders.
This is definitely a must read for entrepreneurs, however is more targeted to the american reality and I don't think that this kind of success can be achieved outside of it. It was interesting to read that in most cases the founders had to go to VCs and it's more interesting to realize that this people could raise millions of dollars for their ideas.

Having more a technical background my main motivation to read this book was the stories of David Heinemeier Hanson and Joel Spolsky and I regret tha
One of the few books I've yet to finish, while it's great to see the journeys of the entrepreneurs in these stories there is mostly technical and very intricate details and the stories tend to drag on..

probably very helpful for the technical co-founder
Slavo Ingilizov
Great value. I've always preferred interviews with real people rather than a subjective opinion. This book not only tries to hit a specific topic, but also intentionally tries to just provide comparison data about some of the most successful entrepreneurs.
Yaseen Hamdulay
A bit outdated but really inspiring. It's interesting to note the patterns between the different founders stories. The most unexpected being that many were unaware of the importance or enormity of the project they were in the process of undertaking.
Best part of this book for me is seeing how much businesses change as they go from idea to reality.
Yevgeniy Brikman
A wonderful inside look at how a number of different startups were created. The book reinforced a few interesting trends for me:

1. Very few founders knew what they were doing when they first started; many of the ideas emerged accidentally, after many failures or experiments.

2. You *can* get more done with crazy hours and virtually all successful startups require them.

3. VC funding seemed to be an ingredient in the success if most startups, but was often a double edged sword, causing problems l
Rodrigo Rivera
Jessica Livingston hat ein sehr gutes Kompendium geschrieben. In jedem Interview erzählt der Gründer von einem erfolgreichen (IPO oder erworben von einem großen Konzern) amerikanischen oder kanadischen Startup über die ersten Tagen der Firma: Vor/während und nach der Gründung.

Alles ist in einem sehr lässigen Stil geschrieben und das Englischniveau ist nicht anspruchsvoll. Der Inhalt ist aber sehr lehrreich. Generell betonen alle Gründer, dass ihre Idee ursprünglich sehr anders war und nur durch
Very interesting book. Initial impression was that the author had been quite lazy by choosing to leave the book in the format of:

Q: ...

A: ...

After reading ten or fifteen chapters, I realized how right she was. Reading this book is like taking all of these interesting people to coffee. It is helpful to read their stories and thoughts in their own words. There are clear threads that run between the founders and their sense of what made them successful(or failures). For example: write a business pl
Joshua Steimle
I wasn't expecting much when I received a copy of this book due to the printing work making it look as though it was self-published. But the companies and names listed on the cover were impressive, so I thought "Well, what the heck." But as soon as I started reading I realized what a gem this book was. By the time I got to the end I was raving about it to everyone I knew.

If this isn't the best book I've ever read for entrepreneurs it's certainly on my "Top 5" list. The Four-Hour Work Week, Lean
Founders at Work is a collection of 32 interviews done by Jessica Livingston of founders of tech companies. Many of the big names are present: Apple, Adobe, Yahoo, etc. A bunch of people have reviewed this book already, including those who are interviewed for the book, so I thought I would give my personal favorite parts of the book without trying to be comprehensive. The official site could certainly fill you in on the breadth of the book.

To me the most interesting interviews were:
- Steve Wozni
John Abassian
“Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days” is a very insightful book, full of informative material and entertainment at the same time. The book, while basically is just a large set of interviews, offers readers a very powerful and insightful look into the entrepreneurial process.

The book is a series of interviews with founders of large and successful technology companies, such as Apple, Yahoo, Paypal, and Hotmail, to name a few. The interviews are done in a very effective manner, short
Blog on Books
Ever wondered how some of your favorite companies got started? So did author/researcher Jessica Livingston. Her interviews with over two dozen of the most successful recent entrepreneurs reveal a host of common elements essential to understanding the trials and tribulations of the startup business.
For most all of these first time entrepreneurs, the journey was significantly different than they first imagined it. Some companies (eBay, Flickr) didn't even plan to be in the business that hey event
John Montgomery
This book is a compendium of transcripts of interviews between the author and 32 successful entrepreneurs who tell the stories of their businesses. There is no better collection of first hand accounts of what it is really like to be in the pilot's seat of a start-up. It is particularly useful for an entrepreneur looking for a role model in a particular industry or domain.

The strength of this collection of interviews is in its raw immediacy. That is also its weakness. Each interview contains man
Startup reúne uma série de entrevistas feitas pela autora aos fundadores de várias startups de tecnologia bem sucedidas no mercado norte-americano e global. Entre as empresas citadas estão: Hotmail, Google (GMail), Lotus Development, Yahoo!, RIM (Blackberry) e Apple.

Com algumas perguntas, a autora faz com que os fundadores contem como foi a história de cada uma destas empresas logo no início, muitas delas sendo montadas por universitários sem dinheiro. Falam sobre financiamentos de investidores,
This book is an interesting collection of interviews with the founders (or early employees) of 32 different technology startups, from Craigslist, Firefox and Flickr to Yahoo! and Apple.

Because it's a collection of interviews, the usefulness of the stories or the ease of reading vary depending on who is being interviewed (and to a smaller extent, the author's questions). Some founders are better at reflecting upon and summarizing their experiences to be generalizable to readers and aspiring entr
Martyn Lovell
Founders at work is a collection of interviews with founders of successful startups. The format of the book includes the questions and answers.

This book includes a range of fascinating material. Sometimes that is because the interview subject is just interesting or historically significant (Woz). Quite often there are insights - perhaps contradictory ones - into building a startup. There are some themes that emerge across the range of people, companies and eras. And many of the specifics of how
it's interviews with founders of well-known startups. Apple, Hotmail, Firefox, hotornot, etc... most of the interviewees describe the process in the same way writers describe writing their first books... doing something most certain to fail... loneliness... shame you feel from your friends and family... driving in the dark... In this way, I enjoyed the book. They highlight doing something simply because you must.

it's also fun because some/most of them are clearly batshit.

Some of the best are Wo
Craig Cecil
After reading the classic 'Programmers at Work' back in the 1980s, then re-reading it again last year, I was a little disappointed with Founders at Work. The book has the same interview format as Programmers at Work, this time mainly with web startup founders from the 1995-2005 period. There is some overlap with similar individuals interviewed in Programmers at Work, such as Dan Bricklin, Steve Wozniak, and Mitch Kapor. But mainly, you'll read about the guys and gals behind PayPal, Blogger, Yaho ...more
Juarez Junior
This books is very energizing and by presenting the true history of several estabilished companies it shows you that it is possible to build a great company, it is not something just a few people can do as it clearly shows us that those founders were/are common people with the added traits you must develop to become a successful entrepreneur. Loved it as it expanded my horizons in a very positive way.
Flavia Sparacino
I enjoyed the stories. I did find the book inspiring. For example even though I was at MIT and a friend of Philip Greenspun at the time of events at Ars Digita, it was interesting to read the summary in the book. The book does not pretend to communicate any "secret sauce" or any other special take away -- but it's great to have access to so many founders stories
Oh shit this is a boring book. After reading the first couple of founders interviews, then it just becomes a drag to read the rest. It is the same questions almost all are asked, and therefor much the same answers you get from all of them.

On top of this then the startup stories in this book are way to old to really be relevant in today's startup environment. The companies that are portrait are from before the Internet bobble, well in fact from the time when trying to convince investors that the
Sep 14, 2008 Renjith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Techies , Geek, Entrepreneurs
Recommended to Renjith by: amazon
Excellent read for folks who are thinking of starting something. Jessica Livingston talks to popular names in the valley on how they got there . Its very exciting to know about how luck and persistence made some of the most successful companies of our times sail through tough waters .

Since its a collection of interviews you can start reading the book from anywhere. However once you complete the book a theme emerges out of it which explains the general traits of successful startups or their found
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