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How to Castrate a Bull

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Dave Hitz likes to solve fun problems. He didn't set out to be a Silicon Valley icon, a business visionary, or even a billionaire. But he became all three. It turns out that business is a mosaic of interesting puzzles like managing risk, developing and reversing strategies, and looking into the future by deconstructing the past. As a founder of NetApp, a data storage firm ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published January 20th 2009 by Jossey-Bass (first published 2008)
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Jonathan Eunice
Oct 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
NetApp is one of the great success stories of Silicon Valley. Dave was a founder. This was his view from the inside, combined with lessons he's learned along the way.

I met Dave recently at a NetApp event, where they were handing out these books by the box. I'm skeptical of such "I founded a business" books, which are usually camouflaged commercials, either for the company or the person. But he seemed both savvy and nice, so I gave it a try. I started reading on the plane ride back, and found it
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
We’ve had this book in our personal collection for many years, and shamefully my husband and I had never gotten around to reading it. I say shamefully as we received a personally autographed copy shortly after publication (full disclosure: the author is the brother of my husband’s best friend/college roommate). Now in 2021 - I decided it was high time to read it. Being in IT, I was very familiar with NetApp, the industry, and the technology discussed in the book. So I enjoyed the book in part as ...more
Kevin Conti
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this, but I didn't get nearly as much out of it as I wanted to. Still an enjoyable, short read, but it lacked any actionable insights. ...more
May Ling
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
An unexpectedly good book found randomly left behind at my friend's place of work. It details the story of Dave Hitz, CEO and founder of NetApp. He has great lessons on how to think about various stages of growth.

I like the story he tells on pg 134-136 about companies hire people who can manage stuff, not that are brilliant. The quote du jour is when a client complains of his sales force "They come in and they tell me about your products. They tell me how fast they are, how reliable they are, h
Abhishek Kona
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to read a book about corporate history of an older silicon valley company, but this book was quite disappointing. It did not have much structure to it, its just the rambling of the author (a co-founder) about some choice anecdotes about the company. Its littered with perhaps some useful generic advice, but the book itself is poor. Its not even a book.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting story and a short read not much to it.
Pablo Cañadas
Jun 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Don’t fix a problem because it’s painful; fix it because it impedes growth”.

In his book How to Castrate a Bull, Dave Hitz takes us through NetApp’s journey of growth, with all its successes and failures. He managed to write a funny enough autobiography that will not bore us to death, and in the meantime, teach us a few things about how to run a successful startup, take it through periods of hypergrowth, survive an economic crisis, and grow again to its former glory of $1 billion in sales and b
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Light, fun read with lots of excellent anecdotes and hard-earned lessons. Sometimes I was wanting for more details, but still worth the read.
Especially liked it because it provides a glimpse into challenges of a large, growing company that C-levels face, but I'm hidden away from as an eng
Aug 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Somewhat simple in prose and narrative. Encouraging, with very little esoteric information for the non-IT audience, but explanatory enough for those with a technical background to remain interested.
Patrick Weeks
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Quick read with a bunch of simple takeaways you can apply to everyday business. It sat on my bookshelf for many years..pulled it out this weekend and glad I did!
Audrey Grone
Jul 14, 2022 rated it really liked it
Read for work.
Mart Roben
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
What if someone with the mind of an engineer became an executive in a huge company? That's what happened to Dave Hitz of NetApp. Engineers are not famous for their people skills, but they excel in drawing objective lessons from experience. This book is a collection of such lessons to help analytical types deal with people problems in work organisations. (Plus some charming personal memoirs and anecdotes.)

Here are two examples:

How to hold planning meetings, so that something would actually get de
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Dave Hitz is currently the Chief Philosophy officer of NetApp, the no.1 company to work for, according to the Forbes magazine in 2009. He was one of the founders of NetApp, a programmer, tech architect, marketing evangelist and VP of engineering at various times in NetApp. This book is basically a management book. It is autobiographical and Hitz outlines how NetApp was started as a Silicon valley start-up company, funded by VC money and how it gradually established a new market segment and grew ...more
Phil Everitt
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
A good insight into Network Appliance and how they started. It could probably shrunk to 25% of the size but then the cost would be seen as outrageous.

There are some gems in there, such as remembering to take a step back and think what the person may have been thinking or what they needed when a particular feature was developed. It is too easy to take one look now and see it as ill fitting your own personal needs, but it may have been just fine then.
Seymour Hersh
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent read. Written by one of the founders of x Davie Hitz provides insights into his startup growth, fall and growth of a multibillion dollar high tech company. Coming from the heart the insighs help the readers understand the day to day personal and professional challenges of leadership,finance, and organizational in raising a company.

Well done..

Oct 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this, so it went very quickly. Dave is a very talented writer; he navigates the story of a very technical company in extremely simple language. In addition, his stories are very humorous, and he does a great job weaving in technical anecdotes between his bits of personal philosophy.

Definitely a must read for anyone in high tech startups or early stage companies.
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great one if you are interested in entrepreneurship and the data storage industry. It is a story of how a small company in Silicon Valley can grow to be giant and the growing pains that come along with it. For being a business book this is really a great read for anyone. I enjoyed reading it and thought it contained great advice and interesting stories.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dave Hitz is the founder of the company I work for, NetApp. This book was a quick read and very interesting to get his perspective on founding a company and what changes and what shouldn't as a company grows and the decision making behind a start up and a grown up company. The background of his family and life experiences is also very interesting. ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a pretty short book which details the story of growth of a company called Net App which essentially went from being a start up to now a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
I really enjoyed the authors writing style and on every couple of pages I found valuable lessons with respect to building a company or managing people
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it
A nice and fast read (took me two days). The story is nice as a recap of the way startups got started during the 90s. Not amazing. Can't say that I learned a great deal from the author's insights... the only anecdote I'll remember is probably the one about seagulls. :) ...more
Daniel F.
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. NetApp is a company that has gone through many ups and downs -- their stock went from U$150 to $13 in 6 months back in 2001 -- and the book presents many stories that are typical of startups in the Valley.
Jun 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Gives an interesting perspective on establishing a business and growing.
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting read, I enjoyed his frank, honest approach to story telling.
Aug 31, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was authored by a founder of NetApp and has some interesting stories and nuggets of advice for both start-ups and more established companies. A quick and easy read.
Andrew Schoenfeld
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you want to read a highly informative but also funny book on business, this is the book.
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Want to read a sincere story about startup life in the buble? Read this book. Good anecdotes and lessons from Dave Hits.
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Simply told about building a technology, convincing people and scaling your company (and going boom in the process as well)
Harsh Surana
Nicely done.
Well structured journey of the startup. The journey in divided into 3 phases, which helps to understand the flow.

Chidambaram Ramanathan
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very good book. I have worked with NetApp so I could relate to most of the events mentioned in the book.
It's fast paced and plenty of inspiring quotes are present. Overall it's a satisfying read
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent read, funny, self-deprecating, smart. Lots of words of wisdom on starting a business
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