January 3, 2017

Best Startup/Business Books I’ve read in 2016

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I’ve read several business books in 2016 and some of them were worth the time spent :)) Here are the two that I would read if I only had time for just two books.

1. The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are no Easy Answers

It took me a little bit of time to read this and I actually wish I read it earlier. Ben Horowitz tells his story from being a Product manager at Netscape to becoming the founder of one of the biggest investment funds in Silicon Valley: Andreessen-Horowitz (a16z). Oh, and between these two things he also built a billion dollar company (Opsware) that he grew during the dotcom bubble.

Why is the book really good? He talks about all the things that you don’t read in Techcrunch and the feel-good startup articles on the web. He talks about firing people while having to convince their friends not to leave the company. He talks about the fights you have as the CEO with the co-founders. With the product managers. He talks about how lonely it is to be the founder and CEO of the company. He talked to me ????

2. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

Written by a guy that went through Y Combinator, then sold his company in just 9 months to Twitter, which he then quit for Facebook. The book is worth reading because it catches a lot of the efforts you go through when raising money early, when you don’t know what to do and keep pivoting and so on. I felt connected to the book more than usual because he was in the Ads team at Facebook when we were ramping our efforts on ad buying and we felt they didn’t really have all the ducks in a row. They got the product later, but in 2013-2014 it was a fucking mess.

Read it. It’s enjoyable and it will actually make you laugh from time to time.

3. Zero to One, Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

OK, there’s three books, not two. The thing is, though, while the book is interesting, it didn’t really hit the mark with me. I’m not too much of a fan of the contrarian view that Peter Thiel has, but he understood faster than a lot of us that Trump was more than a clown and that he would be the President of the United States. So the book is worth a read. The ideas are not necessarily bad but I think he pushes them too much to the limit.

Giveaway! Each book for one lucky subscriber :)

Finally, I will give one of these books to three subscribers from my email list, randomly. If you’re not on the list, you can subscribe here (or use the form on the sidebar). I send a weekly newsletter with interesting articles that I’ve read (usually business related, but not all the time). You can see an example here.

The random pick for the three will happen on the 15th of January and I will contact you via the email you used to register to the newsletter. Oh, and I prefer to send the books for Kindle, so you should own one of those (or use the free app from Amazon on your phone or desktop). I will send the books as a gift to your Amazon account (I prefer the US store, but any will do).