Founders at work by Jessica Livingston

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...I think this book is still a must-have for anyone who wants to understand the unique phenomenon of great start-ups.
-The Motley Fool


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.


About Jessica Livingston

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Jessica Livingston is a founding partner at Y Combinator, a seed-stage venture firm based in Cambridge, MA, and Mountain View, CA. She was previously VP of marketing at investment bank Adams Harkness. In addition to her work with startups at Y Combinator, she organizes Startup School. She has a BA in English from Bucknell.
Published September 19, 2008 by Apress. 488 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Computers & Technology, Education & Reference, History, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Founders at work
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

The Motley Fool

Reviewed by Tom Taulli on May 30 2007

...I think this book is still a must-have for anyone who wants to understand the unique phenomenon of great start-ups.

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Giga Om

Reviewed by Mike Gunderloy on Apr 20 2007

Overall, I’d say, this book is worth reading if you have dreams of someday running your own startup and going after the brass ring.

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Oct 09 2012

Founders at Work provides a fascinating overview of startup culture and of the type of attitude that startup founders generally have, with some looks at equally fascinating exceptions like Steve Wosniak...I recommend it.

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Made With Lisp


The interviews are excellent reading. Partly due to the interesting biographies of the interview subjects themselves obviously, but mostly thanks to the brilliant work of Jessica Livingston.

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Erica C 8 Mar 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5