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Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days
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Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  21,127 Ratings  ·  228 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 ...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Apress (first published 2001)
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Otis Chandler
Feb 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Mohamed Diab Embbya
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
No structure, no themes, but 30 odd interviews with tech business founders, and yet it worked and made for a great read.

The business media usually distills fundamental concepts such as team building, creating a good product and perseverance to the point where you either get a generic phrase or a string of dull paragraphs where a single generic phrase would do; the effect is that reading about business becomes a boring activity, but Founders at Work was different.

It's not a how-to book but narrat
Yaseen Hamdulay
Jul 10, 2013 rated it liked it
A bit outdated but really inspiring.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.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: entrepreneurs
everyone has a bad day/week/month.
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Книга хороша тем, что она богата на истории многих значительных стартапов начиная от самого зарождения интернет бизнеса в США и особенно тем, что истории исходя из первых уст, от их основателей в форме интервью.

Больше всего мне было интересно узнать о многих вызовах, которые падали на плечи руководства и основателей компаний, их поворотные пути в истории развития, а также что именно двигало ими, что же заставляло упорствовать, чего они в итоге достигли и какой ценой.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it
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.
مؤسسة هنداوي للتعليم والثقافة
تحميل مقتطفات من هذا الكتاب مجانًا
Mehran Jalali
I didn't read all the chapters -- I only read the ones that interested me. I didn't read about startups I'd never heard of because they got killed by a late-comer, or startups that dealt with very esoteric subjects like parallel supercomputers. If I'd read those, maybe my rating would have differed.

As a sort of note-to-self, these were the chapters that I read:
33 (the parts that interested me)

I should probably read the questions that interest me from the chapters I haven't
Yevgeniy Brikman
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing

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
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 04, 2014 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Tadas Talaikis
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Why this one is great? I can hear the minds of interviewees as they are, without useless "I know why" abstractions.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Best part of this book for me is seeing how much businesses change as they go from idea to reality.
Muhammad Hakim Asy'ari
Jul 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
persistence&perseverance, things never work out right the first time.
Lori Grant
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A must-read book on entrepreneurial success stories for the knowledge worker or aspiring entrepreneur.
Benton Turner
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great collection of insights from some of the top founders. However, since this was obviously conducted through an interview format, the points are not often described in the most digestible, logical way. That said, since it's an interview format, you can get inside the heads of the founders, which can be revealing, and also just a lot of fun.

Antonio Garcia Martinez author of Chaos Monkeys, recommends this book to aspiring entrepreneurs. In the valley, as he says basically, it's a mus
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nobody is the same, but somehow, the struggle is the same. You want to save the world. You try & you fail. But you’ve learned something. Then you try again, differently. And you fail again. And then, you know what? you try again! And this time, maybe, you might succeed. Maybe.

The lesson is though: #nevergiveup #neversurrender. FAIL FORWARD. SUCCEED FORWARD. And since I’m such a @galaxyquest fan: #nevergiveup, #neversurrender! You pick yourself up & you get moving. We’re all too poor to
Simon Smith
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
As someone who works in technology, and startups, I feel that it’s heresy to say anything bad about this book. But it is not a book. It is a collection of unedited interviews. This might be useful as archival material, but it does not make for good reading. Having read something similar recently, Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans, I know the approach can work, but it requires editing and insight from the author, helping to synthesize common themes, for example. This said, the book is striking for how ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As the title of the book itself suggests, this book's completely filled with very long interviews and success stories of successful founders who have founded various different tech companies and have risen to fame in the world of tech by following their goals and making their crazy dreams and crazy ideas come to fruition. If your desire is to become a successful entrepreneur someday or a founder of a large tech company, this book offers a great deal of advice from some of the worlds most success ...more
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book. Lots of different stories, from those ones where a tool that the startup made on the side to help them build their real product ended up being an overnight success, to the ones where the business plan was clear from day one and was executed carefully over years of sustained effort. Lots to learn from many different types of businesses and leaders. The information density is high, so I wouldn't recommend trying to read your way through it in one go. Instead, I ended up reading one ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: next-up
I couldn’t really finish the book but I might still pick it up here and there.

The thing is, if you are not familiar with founder stories, this might be interesting.
But if, like me, you already follow their stories, their interviews on podcasts, or have read books like the one on Jobs and Musk, you might find little novelty in these stories.

I do like the fact that the founders here were less known (to me), and I really enjoyed the Wozniak chapter, but overall the book was not as interesting as
Tech Historian
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Harvard Case studies without the Hollywood rewrites.

This book puts most Harvard case studies on entrepreneurship to shame. Hearing the voice of the entrepreneur without the filter of a case-writer has given me a new set of insights about entrepreneurship.

Jessica is an extraordinary talented interviewer and has a particular gift for asking the right questions and eliciting illuminating responses.

Just remember the book is best read as a series of short stories rather than straight-through like a n
Powell Omondi
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book, it gives the reader the right perspective of how some of the unicorns during the dotcom bubble came to be. The insights are precious and would recommend to anyone thinking of building a company.
If you want something and it is not yet on the market, find a way to invent or come up with a way of doing it, you might be into something precious.

Key lesson: Just do it, you don't need to wait to do it
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“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
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