Founders at Work (2007)

Founders at Work: Stories of StartUps Early Days (2007), by Jessica Livingston, is a book about 32 entrepreneurs who started their own business and became quite succesful in a reasonably short time. It includes such well-known entrepreneurs as Steve Wozniak (of Apple), Craig Newmark (of Craig’s List) and Sabeer Bhatia (of Hotmail). It also includes entrepreneurs who may not house-hold names, but who founded well-known companies, such as Max Levchin of PayPal, Charles Geschke of Adobe Systems, and Blake Ross of FireFox. Lastly, it includes many others who succesfully founded businesses that were big for a while (e.g. Bob Davis of Lycos) or may become the success stories of the future (e.g. Caterina Fake of Flickr or Steve Perlman of WebTV). Somewhat surprisngly, the book also includes some stories about individuals who were not entrepreneurs in the traditional sense of the word, but played an instrumental role in starting a new venture in an existing company (e.g. Paul Buchheit of Google who was the “creator and lead developer of Gmail”).

 The book is in a simple easy-to-read format and it uses actual interviews with entrepreneurs for content. It lets the entrepreneurs do the talking for themselves, and the author simply presents them with questions to help guide the interview. The strength of the book is that the reader gets to hear the story straight “from the horse’s mouth”, without any editorializing or sugar-coating by the author. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about i-entrepreneurs (entrepreneurs of the internet age) as all the entrepreneurs discussed in this book have something to do with the internet. I will certainly consider this book seriously next time I teach an entrepreneurship course, particularly if it relates to technology-based businesses.

Jessica Livingston, the author of this book, has her own blog where she provides updates and news about the entrepreneurs she interviewed. Interesting!

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