Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves” as Want to Read:
Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  442 ratings  ·  65 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
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Viral Loop, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Viral Loop

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,126)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
Nov 28, 2011 Patrick 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
The book is ok. If you read this thinking that you are going to get real insights on how and why things go viral, you're not. The reason that I gave it 3 stars and not less is because despite this, the book is still pretty interesting and entertaining. Just don't think you're going to come out the other end with a deeper understanding of virality.

Rather than write my own review, and because I'm lazy, I'm going to quote someone else's review from This guy pretty much nailed it on the
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
Interesting read, offering some good stories about how companies have been stunned by viral growth patterns and also how certain companies have deliberately strived to seed things to grow in viral "loops." My only criticism was that there were frequent wording and/or pronunciation errors in the audio book I was listening to. I did not cross check with the printed book, but a key word in the book is "virality" which is often mistakenly said "virility" (quite different) by the performer, and simil ...more
From Tupperware to Facebook, Adam covers almost every noticeable contemporary viral loop that have touched us. A sneak peak into how the new software app startup think and use the virality coefficient is also fascinating. A successful viral loop is a self multiplying, self powered machine that starts after attaining a certain number of people and then doesn't stop after that. Harnessing and mobilizing this loop can provide a classic hockey stick curve of exponential growth. The new marketing phe ...more
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
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
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
Book Calendar
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
Almost a short history on tech startups and technology development. Good content and insight but it wanders from the topic at a few points
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
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......
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 !
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 37 38 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs
  • Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results
  • Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust
  • The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web
  • The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach More People, and Sell More Stuff: Tap Online Social Networks to Build ... Reach More People, and Sell More Stuff
  • Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity [With CDROM]
  • The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing
  • Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time
  • The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success
  • Lean Startup Marketing
  • The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue
  • Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet
  • Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0
  • The Whuffie Factor: The 5 Keys for Maxing Social Capital and Winning with Online Communities
  • Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions
  • Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business
  • User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development
  • Get Rich Click!: The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on the Internet
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, Penenberg garnered national attention in 1998 for unmasking serial fabricator Stephen Glass of the New Republic. Penenberg’s story was a watersh ...more
More about Adam L. Penenberg...
Trial and Terror Virtually True Blood Highways Spooked: Espionage In Corporate America Cloud Racers (Kindle Single)

Share This Book