Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Founders at Work: Stor...
Jessica Livingston
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  12,178 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews

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 idea? Founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin (PayPal

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by O'Reilly Media
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Otis Chandler
Aug 27, 2007 Otis Chandler rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Paul Rivera
Jun 04, 2007 Paul Rivera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: entrepreneurs
everyone has a bad day/week/month.
Nov 03, 2015 Azamali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 Max Levchin Cofounder, PayPal

CHAPTER 2 Sabeer Bhatia Cofounder, Hotmail

CHAPTER 3 Steve Wozniak Cofounder, Apple Computer

CHAPTER 4 Joe Kraus Cofounder, Excite

CHAPTER 5 Dan Bricklin Cofounder, Software Arts

CHAPTER 6 Mitchell Kapor Cofounder, Lotus Development

CHAPTER 7 Ray Ozzie Founder, Iris Associates, Groove Networks

CHAPTER 8 Evan Williams Confounder, Pyra Labs (

CHAPTER 9 Tim Brady First Non-Founding Employee, Yahoo

CHAPTER 10 Mike Lazaridis Cofou
Jan 08, 2016 Annie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read. An insightful look into the experiences of successful founders. One thing I learned is that even the best venture capitalists turn down unicorns.
Sep 21, 2011 Herve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2013 Arjun Balaji rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2008 Saurabh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 08, 2014 Pat Rondon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2013 Andrus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Muhammad Khan
This is a brilliantly fascinating idea to interview startup (co)founders, asking some simple questions and leaving them to respond with pages and pages of wisdom, advice and experience. I've read this book cover-to-cover, there are some common themes to the experience, but no startup experience can claim to be the same, there's always something unique about each individual...

For anyone bursting with ideas but not had the courage to start on your own, or if you've started a company and finding th
Dec 18, 2014 Jef rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 24, 2010 Slavo Ingilizov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sergey Leschenko
Most stories are interesting as a history of Internet and software industry.
I really like chapter 24, interview with Philip Greenspun (ArsDigita), but the rest is hardly inspiring for me.
Krishna Kumar
May 03, 2015 Krishna Kumar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Excellent book of interviews with founders of different software and hardware companies. The author interviewed many industry icons such as Steve Wozniak and Dan Bricklin, Web 2.0 application creators such as David Hansson and Mena Trott, as well as popular software entrepreneurs and writers like Paul Graham and Joel Spolsky. The founders talk about their dreams and fears, and what they think success is about and how it can be achieved. The book also contains their experiences in many unglamorou ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best part of this book for me is seeing how much businesses change as they go from idea to reality.
مؤسسة هنداوي للتعليم والثقافة
تحميل مقتطفات من هذا الكتاب مجانًا
Sean Nam
Aug 26, 2015 Sean Nam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
The book is true to its title, Founders at Work. Included on the cover is the list of the software and internet startups interviewed, ranging from household names, like Google and Apple, to ones you may have never of, especially in 2015 and you were born in the 90's like I was. Regardless, each founder shares their humble beginnings. Many share their vision and values that they've had from the beginning.

Livingston does a great job of interviewing the different founders. There are common question
Taha Hasan
Jun 21, 2016 Taha Hasan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One word that comes to mind after reading this book : "Determination".After reading this book,I realize that startups are hard.Really hard.It takes mountain of a will power to keep going and face the financial problems which normal people can't bear.These are real risk takers.
It really boggles my mind that the some of the people who started companies in Silicon Valley didn't even know at first what they were doing.Sitting at a cafe,enjoying tea with friends,they start discussing ideas and one th
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
Mar 30, 2014 Rodrigo Rivera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Josh Steimle
Sep 18, 2012 Josh Steimle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 03, 2011 John Abassian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Mar 29, 2010 Blog on Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2012 Erick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming
  • The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Startups That Win
  • Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup
  • Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup
  • Joel on Software
  • Eric Sink on the Business of Software
  • Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Web Application
  • Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
  • Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
  • Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to Get from Start-up to IPO on Your Terms
  • Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist
  • The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development: A Cheat Sheet to the Four Steps to the Epiphany
  • Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competit ion
  • My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley
  • Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software
  • The Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs
  • Lucky or Smart?: Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life
  • The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »

Share This Book

“Over the years, I've learned that the first idea you have is irrelevant. It's just a catalyst for you to get started. Then you figure out what's wrong with it and you go through phases of denial, panic, regret. And then you finally have a better idea and the second idea is always the important one.” 3 likes
“the less energy people expend on performance, the more they expend on appearances to compensate.” 2 likes
More quotes…