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Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  355 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Here's something you may not know about today's Internet. Simply by designing your product the right way, you can build a flourishing business from scratch. No advertising or marketing budget, no need for a sales force, and venture capitalists will flock to throw money at you. Many of the most successful Web 2.0 companies, including MySpace, YouTube, eBay, and rising stars ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 889)
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Robert
My initial thinking was that this book would provide reasons for the viral spread of something. Rather it turned out to be more about the stories behind products and ideas that gone viral. That still proved very interesting and seems to reinforce the concept that there is no specific 'formula' for what makes something go viral.

The book provides some interesting insight into many of the products and services we know well, such as Netscape and EBay, that have grow from humble beginnings into multi
...more
Megatherium
Nov 28, 2011 Megatherium marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I'm not sure if it was the narrator -- probably the most annoying in the history of audiobooks -- or the content that made me pull the plug on this one. Said content was like some strange time-warp to 1999 where the internetz was gunna revolutionize everything all god's children were gonna own their own submarines. Isn't there enough of this BS out there already? Whatever. But to believe this twaddle you need to be without critical faculty, without sense of history and utterly devoid of common s ...more
Craig Rowley
Viral Loop was an entertaining read with some quality guidance on how one might get their own Viral Loop started for their business. It continues to amaze me that large companies continue to ignore simple guidance and learnings from Silicon Valley startups. However, a great point from Penenberg is that companies who fail to scale, will fail completely. So, I've learned to interpret the "pause" as a potentially smart move... but hold for too long and the waiting will become procrastination and wi ...more
getAbstract
Intriguing guide on how to use the Web’s amazing viral potential

In 2000, the “Naked Scientists,” a group of Cambridge University physicians and researchers who popularize science, satirically described the viral path of an odd growth industry: Elvis Presley impersonation. At that time, more than 85,000 Elvis impersonators actively performed around the world, “compared to only 170 in 1977 when Elvis died.” The Naked Scientists jovially argued that, at that rate of growth, “by 2019, Elvis imperso
...more
Jay
Reading this now, with a few years age on it, the examples seem quite dated and beg the question "What happens when a company built as viral flames out", as a few of the examples are long gone. The most interesting example was taking the viral story back to Tupperware, partly because that story is not as oft told as, say Facebook. I did find it funny that when discussing brain functions, where you would normally quote an expert, the author quoted Al Gore. I found that disconcerting, a bit more p ...more
Desiree
I really liked this book! Mostly concentrates on web 2.0 type companies and other corporations that have influenced most of our lives in the recent past, like Google, eBay, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, etc....

Great stories of how these companies started and spread, some like wildfire, virally through the net. A current book, not about failed companies that never survived the dot com bust earlier this century. The usual strategy is for companies to get big and get bought out, bringing untold riches
...more
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Viral Loop From Facebook to Twitter How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves by Adam Penenberg



This book is about the network effect. The idea is that for every person that is added to a communication platform like email, telephones, and the internet, the number of potential connections increases exponentially. In its earliest form, it was used by Tupperware to sell products, or people creating chain letters. The book basically says that the network effect is good. I disagree with the idea
...more
Shawn Morel
Short version, I generally liked it. It's accelerated and framed some of my thinking in the area. I think you have to look at it through the right lens though.
Longer version. I was frustrated by his treatment of a few different things.
Section 3 on viral networks was the strongest. The viral marketing section was touch and go - I think he just lacked a basic understanding of mass media.
1) His need to infuse a larger drama that he did a poor job of crafting a narrative for
2) His understanding of t
...more
Carrie
Useful and interesting book about online businesses that have exploded in growth at an exponential rate. Penenberg distills some commonalities among these businesses while also sharing lots of examples and details of of how the likes of PayPal and Netscape got going.I'm not a big fan of the general lingo of most business/marketing books, which always seems a little breathy and light on theory and making connections to bigger ideas and themes, but that could just be my bias.

My favorite chapter w
...more
Franco Arda
Some say that in order to understand today's viral business models, one should read a book on virology or epidemiology. Well, thanks to Penenberg's book, that's not necessary anymore.

Some critics of this book argue, that the book could have been condensed to only a few pages. I tend to agree. Penenberg spends a lot of time giving detailed background to the genesis of some of the most famous Internet companies today. For some readers, this could be a bit boring. But that's like criticizing a Ferr
...more
Kelsey
This book was really informative. I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot about viral companies and how things spread over the internet. It provided a lot of really great examples of how the internet started and grew into the phenomenon it is today. It also was interesting to see the similarities between the creators and founders of all these internet companies.

It was also interesting to read the back story behind the rise of the internet. I saw it from the consumer/user side, so it was nice to
...more
Jonathan Mckay
I would recommend this book to somebody in the government (or in the developing world) trying to understand how Silicon Valley works.

It does well as an entertaining history of why companies like Facebook have grown so fast, but tends towards over-exuberant and over-generalized proclamations about what leads to success in technology.

As another reviewer stated, this book doesn't provide much beyond typical Fast Company articles.
Katy
While I did learn a few things from this book, I feel that it is inaccurately named. Seeing it on my library's online catalog, it looked a lot like a guide to growing your business. However, this is really more of a comprehensive history of businesses who have grown using viral marketing. Therefore, this book really wasn't that helpful to me.

However, Penenberg does a great job of compiling an interesting history of the viral loop. I'm not a "techie" and can barely function on my own computer and
...more
Dave
Penenberg explains and illustrates how the most successful social networking companies grew so fast, earning millions or billions for their founders. Claims to have application to NFP’s, however, all of the success stories had to do with for-profit companies that motivate users with money, sex, or entertainment.
Rebecca
A tech book on how not only internet things, but how certain businesses have grown organically. There was a whole section dedicated to Tupperware, which I thought was really interesting. Definitely more of a history book then a how-to, which I always kind of like more in this industry. I find all this sort of stuff interesting. There was chat on Ebay and Paypal, which was interesting too and how while both kind of hated each other at the beginning, they kind of need each other now to survive. An ...more
Amy Denim
While extremely interesting and informative on the history of viral loop businesses I did not find the subtitle - From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves - reflective of the contents. I now know a lot about some of the fastest growing and most successful business in the world from Tupperware to Facebook and lots in between, but not exactly how those businesses grew themselves besides having a great idea that they luckily figured out how to spread the word about ...more
Remo Uherek
Great book, recommended by Facebooks Head of Growth (he gives this book to every new employee). If you are in the online business it's a must-read. Great overview how viral companies work. Loved the company stories and cases.
Richard Sparks
Well, I was hoping for more... This book tells you a lot of stories about companies that have benefited immensely by setting up their products/services in a way that spreads it quickly to new users. From Tupperware to Hotmail to Facebook, the fastest growing products happen when customers spread it to others simply by using it. Unfortunately, much of the stories are how those companies dealt with scalability issues caused by rapid grown. I was looking to find step by step insights in how to dupl ...more
Ninakix
I would have given this book 3/5 if it weren't for one thing: it's clear that the author doesn't actually understand that much about internet companies, which turns out to not be that much of an impediment until he begins to mention how Google is in a tough spot because - well, basically, the internet is a scary place. Yes, the internet is a scary place, and that makes it true that searching the larger internet does have some risks, but there are some benefits to that, you know. Anyways, what wa ...more
Jenny
interesting backward glance; start ups some of which are today's big names..... PayPal etc.
the whole question of how to get something to go viral, but that is probably a historical notion by now?
Sam
Verdict: mosty unoriginal, but pretty readable accounts of some good valley/startup history. A good telling of the HotOrNot story in particular. The book relied too much on second-hand sources from Andrew Chen’s blog and Sarah Lacy’s Once Your Lucky, Twice Your Good.

Fun factoid on eBay history. According to the book, eBay stood for “Echo Bay”. The site, orginally called, Auction Web, was launched on labor day wekend in 1995. Omidyar ran it as a free service, during his nights and weekends, until
...more
Arun Subhash
Its a good book that gives the reader an insight into the Viral business models. The business terminology used in the book is very simple. It provides a in-depth details of the origins of viral marketing i.e. the Tupperware era (1950-1960) to the modern day Viral Networks(e.g. Facebook , Youtube etc.). The author has neatly arranged various viral trends in the following groupings :

1) Viral Businesses - e.g. Tupperware, Ponzi Schemes
2) Viral Marketing - e.g. Hotmail's Viral marketing techniques
...more
Kate
Feb 18, 2014 Kate marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-to-buy
Recommended by Malcolm bell 5 best books on growth hacking
Karen
Fascinating look at the rise of social media.
Sandip Roy
This book records the history and the genesis of how the famous net browsers, websites, online social networks were born out of ingenuity of a few individuals and how they became popular through online and offline viral networks to reach a point of non displacement.... eventually becoming a part of the digital landscape in our lives......
John
sorry ...

started slow - a little tired - a little old news. got better - and promised at one point to be a good read - and then trailed off with what i consider to be a half hearted attempt at introducing the rules by which you can measure likelihood of something going viral and got into discussion of stackability of viral loops and

in the end - glad i read it - always nice to see what is out there - but not going to change my world ... but - it might change yours !
David
Great internet/social media history book! It begins with the history of the internet leading up to current times. Midway through the book, Penenberg defines the viral loop, how some groups have viral growth and the different tools some groups use to generate viral growth.

It was unlike some of the other social media books I have gone through because he not only talks about the tools, but also the designers and the tools that didn't make it far.
Vikas
abandoned on pg 62. Takes a couple almost interesting folk tales of how various tech companies started and tries (fails) to tie them together using some non-analysis about viral growth. If you are a newbie to tech companies and/or the concept of viral businesses then maybe you'll find it more interesting....maybe. but its pretty tough to get past the superlative laced writing style
Travis
I started this book as skeptical, thinking it was going to attempt to teach me how to be or implement virality.
I was pleasantly surprised when it went thoroughly through the history of many viral companies and was a very interesting read overall.
Very thorough, well written, informative, and it kept me engaged without burning me out on too much history and facts.
Nambirajan
Amazing book on the "viral" success of web 2.0 entities like facebook,twitter etc..The book narrates the story behind present day viral successes..Adam also points out the essential qualities needed to be a viral success..must read for all heavy internet users..essential read for all wanna be founders and technopreneurs..
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Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at New York University who has written for Fast Company, Forbes, the New York Times, The Washington Post, Wired, Slate, Playboy, and the Economist. A former senior editor at Forbes and a reporter for Forbes.com, Penenberg garnered national attention in 1998 for unmasking serial fabricator Stephen Glass of the New Republic. Penenberg’s story was a watersh ...more
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