2000 was basically the year of fraud, where we were just losing more and more money every month. At one point we were losing over $10 million per month in fraud. It was crazy.
—Max Levchin, founder of PayPal, page 6
All the best things that I did at Apple came from (a) not having money and (b) not having done it before, ever. Every single thing that we came out with that was really great, I'd never once done that thing in my life.
—Steve Wozniak, founder of Apple, page 36
Microsoft made a buyout offer for Excite in late '95, and even then I had Microsoft's CTO, Nathan Myhrvold, yelling at me, "Search is not a business. People are just going to search a few times and then bookmark what they want to go to."
—Joe Kraus, founder of Excite, page 68
I originally had my parents moderating, since they were retired, and after a few days I asked my dad how it was going. He said, "Oh, it's very interesting. Mom saw a picture of a guy and a girl and another girl, and they were doing..." So I told Jim, "Dude, my parents can't do this anymore. They're looking at porn all day."
—James Hong, founder of HotOrNot, page 380
Founders at Work 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 one, 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. What are the secrets that make successful startups so insanely productive? Read this book, and let the founders themselves tell you.