Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Book of the Week: Founders At Work

I'm in the middle of reading Jessica Livingston's Founders At Work. It's a series of interviews the author conducted with the founders of successful tech startups: companies like PayPal, Hotmail, Apple, and Flickr. She asks good questions about the process of starting a company and growing it, and she gets interesting, thoughtful answers from the founders. The intro is written by Paul Graham, and can be found here; it's worth the read, all by itself. I'm technically oriented, though not a computer programmer, and I was immensely fascinated by some of the stories. I'm also impressed with what almost every startup has in common: what they eventually became known for is not what they set out to do. Also, there's less mystique than I was expecting. Without exception, these people who have been hailed as the best and brightest are, pretty much, just ordinary guys (though obviously smarter than average). Also, a lot of my familiarity with these companies has come from my experiences with them once they became well-known entities. I had no idea how much competition they had in their earlier days. Even though I don't have the skills to found a tech startup, I found the book oddly inspirational.

Like a lot of inspirational books, I think I'll find this book to be highly re-readable. I've got a library copy now, but I suspect I'll be buying a print copy when finances allow. It might be a while; I'm currently saving my book money for Scalzi's book signing in Kokomo on June 30. I might make it a birthday present to myself.

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