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Founders At Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days March 5, 2007

Posted by J.J. in Tech Startups.
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I am about a quarter of the way through this book and so far it has been a fascinating read. The thing I like best about the format is that it is presented as “raw” interviews with founders, rather than attempting (as so many business books do) to string together a narrative with selective quotations.

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.

Source: Founders At Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days


Having a Blast August 11, 2006

Posted by J.J. in Microsoft, Tech Startups, Windows Live.

In the wake of Niall Kennedy’s announcement that he is leaving Microsoft, Don Dodge (no stranger to startups) writes about what a blast he is having working at Microsoft.

I will second Don’s motion that working at Microsoft is a blast. Some background – I joined Microsoft in February as part of the acquisition of Onfolio and also work within Windows Live. Prior to joining Microsoft I had worked exclusively in startup companies.

I have seen lots of very encouraging things in my short time at Microsoft:

  • I have never seen such a high concentration of bright and committed people in one place.
  • The folks we are working with in the Windows Live group are very savvy about empowering small teams to be agile and innovative. The group coming from Onfolio experienced no “culture-shock” – on the contrary, Microsoft supported us 100% in continuing to do the things that made us successful in the first place.
  • Microsoft enjoys nothing more than competing with capable rivals. What I see within Windows Live is a focus on doing all of the things required to compete successfully over the long term. The investments required to do this won’t yield results overnight – but Microsoft is a very patient company and once pointed in the right direction is the toughest competitor there is.

Microsoft of course isn’t a startup. No one who works here can just flat out do whatever they think is useful and cool. There is a corporate strategy and lots of interlocking parts. Resources need to be applied in a coordinated way. Some patience is certainly required to work through these broader constraints. The reward for this patience though is participating in the development of products that are used by hundreds of millions of people.

So my vote is that Microsoft (and Windows Live) is a terrific place to be right now. I’m having a blast and relish the thought of being on a team of extremely talented people poised to do great things.