The Best Book for Startups

I’m often asked what single book I’d recommend startup founders read. Until now, I didn’t have a good answer, but now I do: the recently-released “Founders at Work” is great. It is the best read for startup CEOs (now and future) I have come across in ages.

Mind you, the book is no strategy tome, nor a motivational text, nor even a guide to getting money out of adrift VCs. Instead it’s just painfully honest revelations, some good, some bad, and all in interview form, from the founders/creators of companies/products like Adobe, Apple, Flickr, Gmail, Hotmail, Paypal, Excite, and so on.

I could choose from myriad examples, but I’d rather you just read it. The “I quit” moments; the struggle to find what you’re really going to do after the thing that you started to do doesn’t work; the predictable battles with VCs (and the dish from some founders about a few famous VCs); and on and on, all of these are the reasons to buy the book.

More than anything else, however, I liked the feeling that comes from the book. It is one of solidarity, of knowing that as a startup founder you’re not the last person to feel the way you feel, whether that’s that the highest high, or lowest low. And that sense of community is worth it’s weight in the rare earth of your choice.

Great stuff. Read it.

[Hat tip to Andrew Catton who made me finally get off my ass and read FaW]


  1. One of the early surprises was how Sabeer Bhatia, co-founder of Hotmail, loathes DFJ VC Tim Draper, the guy who funded the startup. Bhatia repeatly slams Draper, saying he took advantage of fellow co-founder Jack Smith and him right from the first funding. He details how Draper badmouthed the firm to other VCs, took credit for the tagline, funded a direct competitor, and forced another funding round right when they were about to be acquired by Microsoft.
    If what Bhatia says is even close to true, it gives entrepreneurs another reason to call sharps like Draper “vulture” capitalists.