This is an email I posted on the newsletter for The CEO Library, as part of a Startup Founder Reading plan. Here’s the entire 16 books list
10 years ago, I was really into SEO. I’ve made the first real money online using SEO in 2006-2007. And one of the people that rose through the ranks during that time was a guy named Rand, from a company called SEOmoz.
10 years later, the company he started then is now generating $45 million in yearly revenues, but he is no longer involved operationally. He was the CEO, then he left the position for someone else, then, in 2017, he left the company for good.
While he started a new company in 2018, he spent some time after he left Moz to write a book. The book, called Lost and Founder, is the story of Moz. It’s a raw story of what he felt during the life of the company, what he felt when he was changed as CEO, what he felt when he left the company he created.
One of the things I found really interesting was the fact that, even if the company he created is worth around $100 million, he’s not a millionaire. And I’m not talking about paper money (which he has, obviously), but about cash or assets that could become cash in a small amount of time. He also tells the story of a moment when he didn’t sell the company for about $25 million, an amount of money that would’ve made him a millionaire, with about $10-15 million in the bank.
I think the story I just told you shows how different the startup path really is from what we think it is. How, sometimes, not building the biggest company we can and not taking investor money in large amounts is, actually, a better choice for the entrepreneur.
Of course, the book also talks about how to hire people in your company, how to create revenues and growth and how to spend the money you make and the money you raise.
I see this book as a kind of continuation for the first book I ever wrote about in this reading plan: The Hard Thing about Hard Things. Ben Horowitz wrote about the “romantic” part of internet businesses, the 2001 dotcom boom and crash and the recovery from that. He also wrote about a company going the IPO route. Lost and Founder is a similar one for the “startup generation”. With a crisis of its own (2008) and with less success, in financial terms. But I think this is the most common startup entrepreneur experience, not the Facebook one.
The book isn’t difficult to read, so you have no excuse not to read it. Here’s the book’s link on The CEO Library: Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World
P.S.: If you already read Lost and Founder, I want to recommend another book and the one that was initially part of this reading plan: Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson. I think most of you know about the “Virginity” series, but Business Stripped Bare is the better book, in my opinion. It explains step by step the decisions Richard Branson took during the launch and the life of a low-cost airline in Australia.