Books on general business and startups

These are the books that Wingifighters loved and recommended on startups and business practices.
Zero to One: Note on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
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Zero to One: Note on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future

by Peter Thiel,Blake Masters

About the book:  What valuable company is nobody building? The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won't make a search engine. If you are copying these guys, you aren't learning from them. It's easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we alre...

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Liar's Poker (Norton Paperback)
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Liar's Poker (Norton Paperback)

by Michael Lewis

About the book:  The time was the 1980s. The place was Wall Street. The game was called Liar’s Poker. Michael Lewis was fresh out of Princeton and the London School of Economics when he landed a job at Salomon Brothers, one of Wall Street’s premier investment firms. During the next three years, Lewis rose from callow trainee to bond salesman, raking in millions for the firm and cashing in on a modern-day gold rush. Liar’s Poker is the culmination of those heady, frenzied years—a behind-the-scenes look at a unique and turbulent time in American business. From the frat-boy camaraderie of the forty-first-floor trading room to the killer instinct that made ambitious young men gamble everything on a high-stakes game of bluffing and deception, here is Michael Lewis’s knowing and hilarious insider’s account of an unprecedented era of greed, gluttony, and outrageous fortune.


Notes:  A insiders account of the downfall of Soloman Brothers

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The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
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The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by Brad Stone

About the book:  **Winner of the 2013 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award** Though Amazon.com started off delivering books through the mail, its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, was never content with being just a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become ‘the everything store’, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To achieve that end, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that's never been cracked. Until now... Jeff Bezos stands out for his relentless pursuit of new markets, leading Amazon into risky new ventures like the Kindle and cloud computing, and transforming retail in the same way that Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing. Amazon placed one of the first and largest bets on the Internet. Nothing would ever be the same again.

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Founders at Work
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Founders at Work

by Jessica Livingston

About the book:  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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Insanely Simple
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Insanely Simple

by Ken Segall

About the book:  'Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains' Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998 To Steve Jobs, Simplicity wasn't just a design principle. It was a religion and a weapon. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It's what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011, and guides the way Apple is organized, how it designs products, and how it connects with customers. It's by crushing the forces of Complexity that the company remains on its stellar trajectory. As creative director, Ken Segall played a key role in Apple's resurrection, helping to create such critical campaigns as 'Think Different' and naming the iMac. Insanely Simple is his insider's view of Jobs' world. It reveals the ten elements of Simplicity that have driven Apple's success - which you can use to propel your own organisation. Reading Insanely Simple, you'll be a fly on the wall inside a conference room with Steve Jobs, and on the receiving end of his midnight phone calls. You'll understand how his obsession with Simplicity helped Apple perform better and faster.

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How Google Works
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How Google Works

by Eric Schmidt,Jonathan Rosenberg

About the book:  Both Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg came to Google as seasoned Silicon Valley business executives, but over the course of a decade they came to see the wisdom in Coach John Wooden's observation that 'it's what you learn after you know it all that counts'. As they helped grow Google from a young start-up to a global icon, they relearned everything they knew about management. How Google Works is the sum of those experiences distilled into a fun, easy-to-read primer on corporate culture, strategy, talent, decision-making, communication, innovation, and dealing with disruption. The authors explain how the confluence of three seismic changes - the internet, mobile, and cloud computing - has shifted the balance of power from companies to consumers. The companies that will thrive in this ever-changing landscape will be the ones that create superior products and attract a new breed of multifaceted employees whom the authors dub 'smart creatives'. The management maxims ('Consensus requires dissension', 'Exile knaves but fight for divas', 'Think 10X, not 10%') are illustrated with previously unreported anecdotes from Google's corporate history. 'Back in 2010, Eric and I created an internal class for Google managers,' says Rosenberg. 'The class slides all read 'Google confidential' until an employee suggested we uphold the spirit of openness and share them with the world. This book codifies the recipe for our secret sauce: how Google innovates and how it empowers employees to succeed.'

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Elon Musk
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Elon Musk

by Ashlee Vance

About the book:  In the spirit of Steve Jobs and Moneyball, Elon Musk is both an illuminating and authorized look at the extraordinary life of one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting, unpredictable, and ambitious entrepreneurs—a real-life Tony Stark—and a fascinating exploration of the renewal of American invention and its new “makers.” Elon Musk spotlights the technology and vision of Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, who sold one of his Internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius’s life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits. Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition? He argues that Musk—one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history—is a contemporary, visionary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. More than any other entrepreneur today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction fantasy. Thorough and insightful, Elon Musk brings to life a technology industry that is rapidly and dramatically changing by examining the life of one of its most powerful and influential titans.

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Built to Last
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Built to Last

by Jim Collins,Jerry I. Porras

About the book:  "This is not a book about charismatic visionary leaders. It is not about visionary product concepts or visionary products or visionary market insights. Nor is it about just having a corporate vision. This is a book about something far more important, enduring, and substantial. This is a book about visionary companies." So write Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in this groundbreaking book that shatters myths, provides new insights, and gives practical guidance to those who would like to build landmark companies that stand the test of time. Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies -- they have an average age of nearly one hundred years and have outperformed the general stock market by a factor of fifteen since 1926 -- and studied each company in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day -- as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: "What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?" What separates General Electric, 3M, Merck, Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, Walt Disney, and Philip Morris from their rivals? How, for example, did Procter & Gamble, which began life substantially behind rival Colgate, eventually prevail as the premier institution in its industry? How was Motorola able to move from a humble battery repair business into integrated circuits and cellular communications, while Zenith never became dominant in anything other than TVs? How did Boeing unseat McDonnell Douglas as the world's best commercial aircraft company -- what did Boeing have that McDonnell Douglas lacked? By answering such questions, Collins and Porras go beyond the incessant barrage of management buzzwords and fads of the day to discover timeless qualities that have consistently distinguished out-standing companies. They also provide inspiration to all executives and entrepreneurs by destroying the false but widely accepted idea that only charismatic visionary leaders can build visionary companies. Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the twenty-first century and beyond.

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Good to Great
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Good to Great

by Jim Collins

About the book:  The Challenge Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning. But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? The Study For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great? The Standards Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck. The Comparisons The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good? Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't. The Findings The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include: Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness. The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology. The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap. “Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.” Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

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Flash Boys
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Flash Boys

by Michael Lewis

About the book:  Argues that post-crisis Wall Street continues to be controlled by large banks and explains how a small, diverse group of Wall Street men have banded together to reform the financial markets.


Notes:  An account of how algorithmic trading is causing problems.

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