Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days

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Apress, Sep 18, 2008 - Business & Economics - 488 pages
272 Reviews

Now available in paperback—with a new preface and interview with Jessica Livingston about Y Combinator!

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), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) tell you in their own words about their surprising and often very funny discoveries as they learned how to build a company.

Where did they get the ideas that made them rich? How did they convince investors to back them? What went wrong, and how did they recover?

Nearly all technical people have thought of one day starting or working for a startup. For them, this book is the closest you can come to being a fly on the wall at a successful startup, to learn how it's done.

But ultimately these interviews are required reading for anyone who wants to understand business, because startups are business reduced to its essence. The reason their founders become rich is that startups do what businesses do—create value—more intensively than almost any other part of the economy. How? What are the secrets that make successful startups so insanely productive? Read this book, and let the founders themselves tell you.


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

User Review  - Goodreads

Great Book! Makes me want to re-join a dot com. Gives insight into why they succeeded, and love the task, it wasn't a job, it wasn't about the money, it was the love for what they were doing. Read full review

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

User Review  - Goodreads

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 ... Read full review

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Selected pages


Max Levchin
Sabeer Bhatia
Steve Wozniak
Joe Kraus
Dan Bricklin
Mitchell Kapor
Ray Ozzie
Evan Williams
Caterina Fake
Brewster Kahle
Charles Geschke
Ann Winblad
David Heinemeier Hansson
Philip Greenspun
Joel Spolsky
Stephen Kaufer

Tim Brady
Mike Lazaridis
Arthur van Hoff
Paul Buchheit
Steve Perlman
Mike Ramsay
Paul Graham
Joshua Schachter
Mark Fletcher
Craig Newmark
James Hong
James Currier
Blake Ross
Mena Trott
Bob Davis
Ron Gruner
Jessica Livingston

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About the author (2008)

Jessica Livingston is a founding partner at Y Combinator, a seed-stage venture firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mountain View, California. She was previously vice president of marketing at investment bank Adams Harkness. In addition to her work with startups at Y Combinator, she organizes Startup School ( She has a bachelor's degree in English from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

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