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The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups by Randall Stross
affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, always be closing, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Burning Man, business cycle, California gold rush, call centre, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Elon Musk, high net worth, index fund, inventory management, John Markoff, Justin.tv, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, QR code, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, social graph, software is eating the world, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, transaction costs, Y Combinator
McCay and Wyrosdick didn’t realize how important the relationship with Heroku would be when they applied to YC. Adam Wiggins, one of Heroku’s cofounders, told Paul Graham he had worked with the two founders and thought highly of them. So while the two MongoHQs thought of themselves as the two unknowns, they had, in fact, been moved before their interview to the highest-ranking tier of candidates, occupied by the applicants who had been either YC alumni themselves—there were a number of returnees who wanted to go through YC again with a new startup idea—or those whom the most successful alumni had personally recommended. • The MongoHQs are the first interview of this day in late April. Jessica Livingston ushers McCay and Wyrosdick into the interview room, everyone shakes hands, and the two take their seats. As is his wont, Paul Graham begins with no more preliminaries than a brief “OK” and then reads off from their application the number of accounts that MongoHQ has.
The pair of thirty-somethings from Birmingham, Alabama, are in. 3 GRAD SCHOOL Around midmorning on the last day of April, after six days of finalist interviews, selections, offers, and acceptances, Paul Graham addresses about one hundred founders who have been admitted for the summer batch. They fill YC’s main hall, which is not large enough to accommodate the entire batch. Two more days of interviews and acceptances will follow, with a repeat of the kickoff meeting. YC has outgrown its current space—walls must be moved to expand the hall before the dinners begin in a month—but in the meantime, only three-fourths of the future class can be assembled in one place. During the interviews, the Paul Graham seated across the table from the founders had not taken pains to seem welcoming. He did not need to—in the division of duties, Jessica Livingston was the one who ushered each group into the room from the main hall, and she had a thousand-watt smile for everyone.
Michael Dwan’s wife came out to Silicon Valley with him for the summer. But she came to be a spectator and startup widow, not a founder. Ren faced a summer alone, as his girlfriend decided to stay in Boulder. But the cofounders’ worries about whether they had made the right choice fell away within the first few minutes of Paul Graham’s remarks at the kickoff meeting. He said to the group: if you’re not fully focusing on your product to the exclusion of all else, you’re wasting your time. Dwan turned to his cofounder and smiled. That’s why they’d come. 4 MALE In Paul Graham’s view, startups are qualitatively superior to large corporations in just about every way. Leading the list of the startup’s superior attributes is the ability of its founders to choose one another and then hire employees considering nothing but merit: One advantage startups have over established companies is that there are no discrimination laws about starting businesses.
Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian
Airbnb, barriers to entry, carbon-based life, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, en.wikipedia.org, Hans Rosling, hiring and firing, Internet Archive, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, Occupy movement, Paul Graham, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social web, software is eating the world, Startup school, Tony Hsieh, unpaid internship, Y Combinator
The result was that my in-box became full of e-mails like this one from Steve: how about oobaloo.com? i like it Or this one from Paul Graham: 360scope.com. I like this one. A 360scope being something that looks in all directions, rather than a microscope or telescope, which look[s] at either extreme of one direction. You can imagine people saying, let’s go check out the 360scope. Nevertheless, I wasn’t changing my mind. I also really wanted a mascot. By the way, I’ve met a few people who’ve had the reddit alien tattooed on their bodies, which never ceases to amaze me (and is something I hope they never regret), but the little creature had to win over my co-founder, Steve, and our chief investor, Paul. From: Paul Graham Date: June 22, 2005 1:29:10 p.m. EDT To: Steve Huffman, Alexis Ohanian Cc: Jessica Livingston Subject: prototype Also, get the content as far as you can into the upper left.
But everyone else needs to be convinced that what you’ve made, whatever it is, is worth his or her attention. To quote Paul Graham: “The Back button is your enemy.” This simple fact about online creation forces us to make something compelling and to value our audience as much as possible. So how do you get people to look at your user-driven website when you don’t have any users? You fake them, naturally. That’s what Steve and I did for the first few weeks—submit content under different user names. Sure, we asked our friends for help, but only a few really committed themselves to helping our nascent venture (thanks, Connor Dolan and Morgan Carey!). Our first surge of traffic that didn’t come from browbeaten friends was thanks to an essay Paul Graham wrote, which sent over the first redditors (reddit + editor, since all users have submission and voting privileges) and got us off to a great start.
The Internet will be their reckoning, because the World Wide Web is flattening the planet. As long as all links are created equal, we have a level playing field—a global platform from which ideas can spread. CHAPTER FIVE Startup MBA Part II—Blueprint for Growth A startup is a company designed to grow fast��. The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth. Paul Graham, “Startup = Growth” Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, identifies the core defining characteristic of a startup as growth, which makes it fundamentally different from other types of businesses.1 No matter how successful a brand-new brick-and-mortar bakery is, it’s still not a startup because it’s limited by space and muffins and employees, which all require time and capital to grow. I love muffins, but what makes a startup special is that unlike a bakery, it can grow logarithmically (i.e., it can experience hockey-stick growth, up-and-to-the-right growth, and “Holy shit!”
We Are the Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
4chan, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, East Village, game design, Golden Gate Park, hiring and firing, Internet Archive, Jacob Appelbaum, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joi Ito, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, QR code, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technoutopianism, uber lyft, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator
It stuck, and became a mainstay of Graham’s future speeches and a Y Combinator mantra. By the end of summer, the nineteen guys were so accustomed to hearing Graham say, “Make something people want,” that they put it on a T-shirt. Well, sort of. The shirt’s front bore a Y Combinator logo. On the back were screenprinted the words “Make Something Paul Graham Wants.” * * * By about three weeks into the summer of 2005, Huffman had become accustomed to panicking roughly twice each day, when the name Paul Graham would appear at the top of his Gmail in-box. This was the same man who’d pledged them thousands of dollars of his own money to let them experiment with code all summer, the same man who’d expressed so much enthusiasm for their startup pitch months earlier. The same paternal figure they felt comfortable enough around to start calling PG.
But this was a different side of PG. These were curt notes with feature suggestions (users should email each other!), feedback on the name (he hated it), the alien mascot (what about an octopus?), and, mostly, the dreaded “check-in” email. “Paul in one person is his own good cop and his own bad cop,” Ohanian said later that summer. “And there’s this amazing dichotomy between the Paul Graham that we often get emails from and the Paul Graham we know in person.” This third week in June, it finally got to Huffman. One note was particularly harsh. It didn’t just ask for a progress report; it ranted. Graham wrote, in essence, “I don’t know why you haven’t launched yet; either you can’t do it or you are waiting for it to be perfect, and I don’t know which is worse.” It deeply irked Huffman. He thought Graham was being a huge dick.
Rejected by girls: Alexis Ohanian, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed (New York: Business Plus, 2013), 21–22. How to Start a Startup an eighty-page thesis: “Our Y Combinator Summer 05 Application,” posted by Alexis Ohanian on November 29, 2010, AlexisOhanian.com. Swartz was pondering: Aaron Swartz, “The Case Against Lawrence Summers,” aaronsw.com, March 9, 2005. “If you want to do it”: Paul Graham, “How to Start a Startup,” essay delivered before the Harvard Computer Society, posted online March 2005. Not Your Standard Fixed-Point Combinator Graham snapped a photo: Paul Graham, “How Y Combinator Started,” blog post on Y Combinator’s former website, March 15, 2012. “How do we even tell people”: Jessica Livingston, Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days (New York: Apress, 2007), 448. “You better quit your job”: Ibid. “You know, Sam”: Ibid., 449. When the meeting ended: Aaron Swartz, “SFP: Come see us,” aaronsw.com, April 16, 2005.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Airbnb, AltaVista, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, en.wikipedia.org, framing effect, game design, Google Glasses, IKEA effect, Inbox Zero, invention of the telephone, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Oculus Rift, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, QWERTY keyboard, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, the new new thing, Toyota Production System, Y Combinator
,” Mashable (accessed), http://mashable.com/2011/08/03/telenav-cellphone-infographic. 3. Ian Bogost, “The Cigarette of This Century,” Atlantic (June 6, 2012), http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/the-cigarette-of-this-century/258092/. 4. David H. Freedman, “The Perfected Self,” Atlantic (June 2012), http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/06/the-perfected-self/308970/. 5. Paul Graham,“The Acceleration of Addictiveness,” Paul Graham (July 2010; accessed Nov. 12, 2013), http://www.paulgraham.com/addiction.html. 6. Gary Bunker, “The Ethical Line in User Experience Research,” mUmBRELLA (accessed Nov. 13, 2013), http://mumbrella.com.au/the-ethical-line-in-user-experience-research-163114. 7. Chris Nodder, “How Deceptive Is Your Persuasive Design?” UX Magazine (accessed Nov. 13, 2013), https://uxmag.com/articles/how-deceptive-is-your-persuasive-design. 8.
Mitchell, “Disclosing Information About the Self Is Intrinsically Rewarding,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (May 7, 2012): 201202129, doi:10.1073/pnas.1202129109. Chapter 8: Habit Testing and Where to Look for Habit-Forming Opportunities 1. Mattan Griffel, “Discovering Your Aha! Moment,” GrowHack (Dec. 4, 2012), http://www.growhack.com/2012/12/04/discovering-your-aha-moment. 2. Paul Graham, “Schlep Blindness,” Paul Graham (Jan. 2012), http://paulgraham.com/schlep.html. 3. Joel Gascoigne, “Buffer October Update: $2,388,000 Annual Revenue Run Rate, 1,123,000 Users,” Buffer (Nov. 7, 2013), http://open.bufferapp.com/buffer-october-update-2388000-run-rate-1123000-users. 4. Tessa Miller, “I’m Joel Gascoigne, and This Is the Story Behind Buffer,” Life Hacker (accessed Nov. 13, 2013), http://www.lifehacker.co.in/technology/Im-Joel-Gascoigne-and-This-Is-the-Story-Behind-Buffer. 5.
Pickover, Time: A Traveler’s Guide (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). 8. Clifford Stoll, “The Internet? Bah!” Newsweek (Feb. 27, 1995), http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people-/faculty/debaron/582/582%20readings/stoll.pdf. 9. Mike Maples Jr., “Technology Waves and the Hypernet,” Roger and Mike’s Hypernet Blog (accessed Nov. 13, 2013), http://rogerandmike.com/post/14629058018/technology-waves-and-the-hypernet. 10. Paul Graham, “How to Get Startup Ideas.” Paul Graham (Nov. 2012), http://paulgraham.com/startupideas.html.
The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions...and Created Plenty of Controversy by Leigh Gallagher
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Sanders, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, housing crisis, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Justin.tv, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, Network effects, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, RFID, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the payments system, Tony Hsieh, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, Y Combinator, yield management
It prompted a major moment of soul-searching for Airbnb. By now having access to the top minds in Silicon Valley, as Chesky recounted to Hoffman’s students, he asked for advice from a growing panel of high-octane advisers: Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Mason, Paul Graham, and Hoffman. Everyone had a different opinion: Mason, he said, having just gone through the experience, told him Wimdu had the potential to kill Airbnb. Zuckerberg, Chesky said, advised him not to buy, because whoever had the best product would win. In the end, the advice Chesky took came from Paul Graham, who told him that the difference between Airbnb and Wimdu was that Airbnb owners were missionaries, and Wimdu owners were mercenaries. Missionaries, he told him, usually win. In what Chesky would later call a “bet the company” moment, the cofounders decided not to buy Wimdu, mainly for the reason Graham mentioned: Chesky didn’t want to absorb four hundred new employees who he felt were mercenaries and whom Airbnb had had no say in hiring.
Seibel is now an established entrepreneurial adviser with two major successes under his belt: he and his cofounders sold Twitch (which is what Justin.tv eventually became) to Amazon for $970 million and Socialcam, a video app, to Autodesk for $60 million. But back then he was twenty-five, had only recently become a first-time CEO, and didn’t have much experience. “I wasn’t someone people pitched,” he says. Chesky and Gebbia were the first founders who had ever asked him for advice. But he had just gone through Y Combinator, the prestigious start-up accelerator program cofounded by the entrepreneur and venture capitalist Paul Graham (Seibel is now CEO of the Y Combinator program). Seibel told them he’d help give them counsel, and as they began to devise something more tangible, he could maybe introduce them to some angels. Chesky had no idea what he was talking about (“I’m, like, ‘Oh my god, this guy believes in angels. What the hell?’” he says now). Seibel explained to Chesky that he was referring to angel investors, people who over dinner might write him a check for $20,000.
The founders would get the $20,000 in seed funding that came with admission, in return for a 6 percent stake in the company, and they would enroll in the next three-month term, which would begin in January. They were due to report for a welcome dinner on Tuesday, January 6, 2009. After what Chesky would later refer to as an “intervention,” Blecharczyk finally agreed to relocate to San Francisco for three months and moved back into the Rausch Street apartment. The band was back together. They had been given another chance. “What Are You Still Doing Here?” Founded in 2005 by Paul Graham and three copartners, Y Combinator very quickly became one of the most prestigious launchpads in Silicon Valley, a “quasi startup factory, university, and venture capital fund rolled into one,” as Fortune called it. It wasn’t easy to get in, but start-ups it deemed worthy got seed funding of $5,000 plus another $5,000 per founder and a priceless wealth of knowledge, connections, operational assistance, and more offered by Graham and his copartners.
Practical OCaml by Joshua B. Smith
cellular automata, Debian, domain-specific language, general-purpose programming language, Grace Hopper, hiring and firing, John Conway, Paul Graham, slashdot, SpamAssassin, text mining, Turing complete, type inference, web application, Y2K
You should always be on the alert for this, however. 620Xch14final.qxd 9/22/06 12:38 AM CHAPTER Page 169 14 ■■■ Practical: A Spam Filter E veryone knows what spam is, even if they don’t know that it refers to unwanted (and usually advertisement-ridden) email instead of the venerable meat product made by the Hormel Corporation. Unlike Hormel Spam, email spam has been annoying people and reducing productivity since the 1990s. In August 2002, Paul Graham published his essay, “A Plan for Spam,” which outlined a new idea in ending the spam problem. Now almost everyone uses a variant of the idea he popularized, but at the time it was the first. Paul Graham, of course, published his code in Lisp. His “plan” for spam consisted of a Bayesian classifier that put any given email message into one of two buckets: ham or spam. This chapter presents a working OCaml-based classifier and provides for code reuse and modularity. Naive Bayesian Spam Filtration Paul Graham knew he was on to something with his seminal essay. The method that he describes comes from Bayes’ Theorem, which when applied to spam can be described formally as follows.
Instead, probabilities are combined for these kinds of problems as shown in the following equation, which yields a probability of about 15.5 percent: ab P 5 }}} (ab) 1 (1 2 a)(1 2 b) This combination is also why the original Paul Graham article looked at only the first 15 to 20 “interesting” tokens. The way these probabilities combine makes the probability of a given email being spam decrease at a rapid rate. Sampling (and taking only a few samples) is an effective way to combat this problem. However, how you get the samples is an open problem, and we take the top 20 interesting tokens in our example. Talking About the Design Because the algorithm is provided, you do not have to worry about it. You’ll use the original Paul Graham algorithm, even though several additions and improvements have been made to it since the paper was published. The original algorithm provides a great example without getting bogged down in the math (remember, this book shows OCaml programming instead of teaching probability theory).
The function after that actually calculates the probability of a given email being spam by finding the probabilities of each token being spam, taking the top 20 tokens (those with the highest probability of being spam), and combining them. There is no danger of this function returning Not A Number because you ensured that the scoring function (the paul_graham function) always returns some nonzero value. let top_n n lst = try let ar = Array.of_list lst in Array.to_list (Array.sub ar 0 n) with Invalid_argument("Array.sub") -> lst;; let calc_email_prob lbuf = let email = buildmap StringMap.empty lbuf in let scored = StringMap.mapi ( fun x va -> paul_graham x goodmap badmap goodcount badcount ) email in let top_vals = top_n 20 (List.rev (List.sort compare (StringMap.fold (fun x y z -> y :: z) ➥ scored ))) in 173 620Xch14final.qxd 174 9/22/06 12:38 AM Page 174 CHAPTER 14 ■ PRACTICAL: A SPAM FILTER let n = List.fold_left (fun x y -> x *. y) 1.0 top_vals in let dn = List.fold_left (+.) 0.
Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez
Airbnb, airport security, always be closing, Amazon Web Services, Burning Man, Celtic Tiger, centralized clearinghouse, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, disruptive innovation, drone strike, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, financial independence, global supply chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, hive mind, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, MITM: man-in-the-middle, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, social web, Socratic dialogue, source of truth, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, undersea cable, urban renewal, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, éminence grise
In reality, a startup’s pivot is a panicked sprint comparable to that of a Titanic passenger who’s spotted the last open life raft. It wasn’t even a onetime thing: our final product would be informally titled “Plan J,” given the number of turns we had taken since “Plan A.” But there you have it, dear reader: we made a “pivot.” Plié! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. All this would become clear only after numerous strolls with Paul Graham, something we hadn’t even won the right to have yet. Back to me skulking at Adchemy while working on a Y Combinator application. If my reading of YC’s and Paul Graham’s essays was correct, then bomb-throwing anarchist subversive mixed with cold-blooded execution mixed with irreverent whimsy, a sort of technology-enabled twelve-year-old boy, was precisely the YC entrepreneur profile. Figure out a point of overlooked business or technical leverage, interpose some piece of cleverness, and gleefully marvel at the resulting disruption (or destruction).
Like control of the water supply in some arid agricultural region, whoever had the most upstream control of the water sluice controlled everything else—which is what Y Combinator’s Demo Day represented. Thus, powerful and haughty VCs who wanted to attend Y Combinator’s showcase pitch event had to kneel and kowtow to a sandal-wearing bear of a man with a distaste for bullshit and a flair for the written word. That man was Paul Graham, without question the canniest tech investor in human history. And it was to Paul Graham we first turned with our existential problem in those desperate days. Like all parents, PG pretends he loves all his startup children equally. The reality is some companies get more of his attention than others. Given the conditional nature of his love, it was somewhat in doubt if he would run to AdGrok’s aid, in light of the pissy, messy nature of our conflict.
The second was Argyris Zymnis, a recent graduate from a famous artificial intelligence lab at Stanford. He was one of the rising stars at Adchemy, due to both his high-level machine-learning brains and his coding skill. Aside from our lunchtime conversations and odd Sunday phone call, though, we hadn’t formulated any clear business idea. Procrastinating on a Monday, I decided to read an essay by Paul Graham. PG, as he’s known to the cognoscenti, founded an online store builder called Viaweb in the early days of the Web, which got bought in the $40 million range in 1997, and eventually became Yahoo Shopping. In his postacquisition freedom, he created one of the more incredible institutions in Silicon Valley: Y Combinator.* Twice a year, every year, Y Combinator accepts a few dozen startup hopefuls into what can only be described as a startup boot camp.† They are given a tiny amount of money and the goal of shipping a product by the end of three months.
Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston
8-hour work day, affirmative action, AltaVista, Apple II, Brewster Kahle, business cycle, business process, Byte Shop, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, fear of failure, financial independence, Firefox, full text search, game design, Googley, HyperCard, illegal immigration, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Justin.tv, Larry Wall, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, nuclear winter, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, software patent, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, web application, Y Combinator
They know that is a dynamic that is driven by the human spirit; that they ought to embrace it rather than fight it. All the resources they have in the world, all the billions of dollars, can’t stop people being creative. There are a lot of companies who, in one way or another, have changed the rules of the game for the better. It’s just going to happen. I think we helped a very conservative industry get their minds around that. C H A P T E 15 R Paul Graham Cofounder, Viaweb Paul Graham and his friend Robert Morris started Viaweb in 1995 to make software for building online stores. A few days into writing the first prototype, they had a crazy idea: why not have the software run on the server and let the user control it through their browser? Within weeks, they had a web-based online store builder they could demo to investors. They launched at the beginning of 1996.
For Da and PG Contents FOREWORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi ABOUT THE AUTHOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii CHAPTER 1 MAX LEVCHIN PayPal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 CHAPTER 2 SABEER BHATIA Hotmail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 CHAPTER 3 STEVE WOZNIAK Apple Computer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 CHAPTER 4 JOE KRAUS Excite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 CHAPTER 5 DAN BRICKLIN Software Arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 CHAPTER 6 MITCHELL KAPOR Lotus Development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 CHAPTER 7 RAY OZZIE Iris Associates, Groove Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 CHAPTER 8 EVAN WILLIAMS Pyra Labs (Blogger.com) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 CHAPTER 9 TIM BRADY Yahoo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 CHAPTER 10 MIKE LAZARIDIS Research In Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 v vi Contents CHAPTER 11 ARTHUR VAN HOFF Marimba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 CHAPTER 12 PAUL BUCHHEIT Gmail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 CHAPTER 13 STEVE PERLMAN WebTV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173 CHAPTER 14 MIKE RAMSAY TiVo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191 CHAPTER 15 PAUL GRAHAM Viaweb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205 CHAPTER 16 JOSHUA SCHACHTER del.icio.us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223 CHAPTER 17 MARK FLETCHER ONElist, Bloglines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233 CHAPTER 18 CRAIG NEWMARK craigslist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247 CHAPTER 19 CATERINA FAKE Flickr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257 CHAPTER 20 BREWSTER KAHLE WAIS, Internet Archive, Alexa Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265 CHAPTER 21 CHARLES GESCHKE Adobe Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281 CHAPTER 22 ANN WINBLAD Open Systems, Hummer Winblad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297 CHAPTER 23 DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSSON 37signals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309 CHAPTER 24 PHILIP GREENSPUN ArsDigita . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317 CHAPTER 25 JOEL SPOLSKY Fog Creek Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 345 CHAPTER 26 STEPHEN KAUFER TripAdvisor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 361 CHAPTER 27 JAMES HONG HOT or NOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 377 CHAPTER 28 JAMES CURRIER Tickle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 387 CHAPTER 29 BLAKE ROSS Firefox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 395 Contents vii CHAPTER 30 MENA TROTT Six Apart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 405 CHAPTER 31 BOB DAVIS Lycos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 419 CHAPTER 32 RON GRUNER Alliant Computer Systems, Shareholder.com . . . . . . . . . . 427 CHAPTER 33 JESSICA LIVINGSTON Y Combinator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 447 INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 455 Foreword Sprinters apparently reach their highest speed right out of the blocks, and spend the rest of the race slowing down.
Of course, big companies won’t be able to do everything these startups do. In big companies, there’s always going to be more politics and less scope for individual decisions. But seeing what startups are really like will at least show other organizations what to aim for. The time may soon be coming when instead of startups trying to seem more corporate, corporations will try to seem more like startups. That would be a good thing. Paul Graham Cofounder, Viaweb Preface It’s been more than a year since Founders at Work was first published. What have I learned since? The biggest surprise has been the sheer number of people interested in startups. I know about the ones who apply to Y Combinator, read Hacker News, or attend Startup School, but I could never be sure how many people were interested in startups beyond that core of would-be founders.
Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman, Chris Yeh
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, Bob Noyce, business intelligence, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, database schema, discounted cash flows, Elon Musk, Firefox, forensic accounting, George Gilder, global pandemic, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, late fees, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, transaction costs, transport as a service, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, web application, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, yellow journalism
Brian and his cofounders, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharcyzk, had already fought their way through plenty of obstacles to build Airbnb, a website that makes it easy for people to rent out their rooms or homes for the night. In the beginning, every investor the founders approached had turned them down or, worse, ignored them. The company was on the upswing now, but the painful early days were still fresh in their minds, and they weren’t looking for another battle. * * * When the Airbnb founders first met, Paul Graham, the highly regarded founder of the start-up accelerator Y Combinator (YC), told them flat out that their idea was terrible. “People are actually doing this?!” he incredulously asked. When Brian told him yes, people were, in fact, renting out their living spaces for a night, Graham’s response was “What’s wrong with them?” Still, Graham had accepted the Airbnb guys into the three-month-long YC program.
But he and his team had spent eighteen seemingly fruitless months working on Airbnb before entering Y Combinator, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt. After all the blood, sweat, and tears, were they really willing to give up a quarter of their company? Ultimately, Brian decided not to buy Wimdu, swayed in part by the arguments of his key advisers. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg counseled him to fight. “Don’t buy them,” he said. “The best product will win.” YC’s Paul Graham gave similar feedback. “They’re mercenaries. You’re missionaries,” he told Brian. “They’re like people raising a baby they don’t actually want.” When Brian reached out to me for my advice on the situation, I too advised him not to buy Wimdu. The key issue wasn’t the price and dilution, but the way a merger could pose impediments to speed and success. “Buying [Wimdu] adds a substantial amount of integration risk, which tripped up Groupon after buying CityDeal,” I told him.
And Facebook built its social network when most people believed social networking to be either useless, a market dominated by MySpace, or both. As we’ve already seen, most great ideas look dumb at first. Being contrarian doesn’t mean that dumb people disagree with you; it means that smart people disagree with you! Remember what happened when Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharcyzk tried to pitch Airbnb? Investors like Paul Graham literally couldn’t imagine why people would ever use the service. This doesn’t happen because investors are dumb; most venture capitalists and angel investors are smart, and most smart, successful people would probably agree that investing in proven ideas is better than investing in unproven ones. The problem is that, by definition, business model innovation involves trying something that is new, and thus unproven!
The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet by Justin Peters
4chan, activist lawyer, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Bayesian statistics, Brewster Kahle, buy low sell high, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, don't be evil, global village, Hacker Ethic, hypertext link, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Lean Startup, moral panic, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, profit motive, RAND corporation, Republic of Letters, Richard Stallman, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strikebreaker, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator
“CO-OPT OR DESTROY” 1 Aaron Swartz, “Checking In,” Schoolyard Subversion, December 23, 2001, http://web.archive.org/web/20020205111032/http:/swartzfam.com/aaron/school/. 2 Aaron Swartz, “Instant Message from LelandJr247,” Aaron Swartz: The Weblog, December 11, 2003, http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/001087. 3 Aaron Swartz, “Stanford: Day 1,” Aaron Swartz: The Weblog, September 21, 2004, https://web.archive.org/web/20041009200559/http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/001418. 4 Aaron Swartz, “Stanford: Day 3,” Aaron Swartz: The Weblog, last modified June 3, 2005, http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/001421. 5 Interview with Seth Schoen, January 2013. 6 Aaron Swartz, “Stanford: Day 58,” Aaron Swartz: The Weblog, November 15, 2004, http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/001480. 7 Wilcox-O’Hearn, “Part 1.” 8 Aaron Swartz, “Home Again,” Aaron Swartz: The Weblog, February 13, 2005, http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/001558. 9 Aaron Swartz, “News Update,” Aaron Swartz: The Weblog, February 17, 2003, http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/000838. 10 Paul Graham, “What I Did This Summer,” PaulGraham.com, October 2005, http://www.paulgraham.com/sfp.html. 11 Paul Graham, “Summer Founders Program,” PaulGraham.com, March 2005, http://paulgraham.com/summerfounder.html. 12 Ibid. 13 Infogami, March 4, 2006, https://web.archive.org/web/20060323211212/http://infogami.com/. 14 Aaron Swartz, “infogami,” Infogami, circa October 25, 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20051025013124/http://infogami.com/. Swartz had two co-applicants: the Danish programmer Simon Carstensen and the British programmer and historian Sean B.
“When I started high school, I remember watching for that point where foreground and background reverse—the point at which school as a use of my time turned into time being what was left over after school. It didn’t take long,” he wrote on his blog. “School is like that. It keeps you running until running is the only thing you know.”8 Not surprisingly, he took the first possible opportunity to run away from Stanford. Swartz was exactly the sort of disaffected, understimulated genius that Paul Graham was hoping to recruit for his latest enterprise. Graham is a computer programmer and entrepreneur who, in 1998, sold the company he cofounded, Viaweb, to Yahoo for $49.6 million in stock. Following the sale, Graham wrote a series of thoughtful essays on computers and the people who loved them. In 2003, Swartz had excerpted one of those essays, “Why Nerds Are Unpopular,” in which Graham suggested that the pointless busywork assigned in the typical American high school only encourages smart, self-motivated teenagers to consider suicide.
Perhaps it’s a bit lofty of a goal, but we say aim high.”14 Graham was intrigued by Swartz, if not necessarily Swartz’s idea, and so he invited the restless Stanford undergrad to come to Cambridge and pitch the concept in person. As Swartz packed for the trip in his Stanford dorm room, he told his roommates that he was off to interview for a summer job. His friend Seth Schoen, amused at the understatement, suggested Swartz explain that the interview was with Paul Graham, the famous programmer and essayist. “Yeah,” Swartz said, “but they won’t know who that is.”15 On his blog, Swartz portrayed the pitch meeting as a comical and bemusing experience. In Swartz’s telling, Graham spent the session bouncing between conversational topics while paying surprisingly little attention to Swartz’s proposal for Infogami—“which he appears not to have read very carefully,” Swartz noted.
Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty by Vikram Chandra
Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Apple II, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business process, conceptual framework, create, read, update, delete, crowdsourcing, don't repeat yourself, Donald Knuth, East Village, European colonialism, finite state, Firefox, Flash crash, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, haute couture, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, land reform, London Whale, Norman Mailer, Paul Graham, pink-collar, revision control, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supercomputer in your pocket, theory of mind, Therac-25, Turing machine, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce
Most of the artists I know—painters, filmmakers, actors, poets—seem to regard programming as an esoteric scientific discipline; they are keenly aware of its cultural mystique, envious of its potential profitability, and eager to extract metaphors, imagery, and dramatic possibility from its history, but coding may as well be nuclear physics as far as relevance to their own daily practice is concerned. Many programmers, on the other hand, regard themselves as artists. Since programmers create complex objects, and care not just about function but also about beauty, they are just like painters or sculptors. The best-known assertion of this notion is the essay “Hackers and Painters” by programmer and venture capitalist Paul Graham. “Of all the different types of people I’ve known, hackers and painters are among the most alike,” writes Graham. “What hackers and painters have in common is that they’re both makers. Along with composers, architects, and writers, what hackers and painters are trying to do is make good things.”1 According to Graham, the iterative processes of programming—write, debug (discover and remove bugs, which are coding errors, mistakes), rewrite, experiment, debug, rewrite—exactly duplicate the methods of artists: “The way to create something beautiful is often to make subtle tweaks to something that already exists, or to combine existing ideas in a slightly new way … You should figure out programs as you’re writing them, just as writers and painters and architects do.”2 Attention to detail further marks good hackers with artist-like passion: All those unseen details [in a Leonardo da Vinci painting] combine to produce something that’s just stunning, like a thousand barely audible voices all singing in tune.
So just like mechanical engineers and architects, computer programmers create artefacts that have to stand up to an objective reality. No one cares how pretty the code is if the program won’t work. The only objective constraint a painter has is making sure the paint physically stays on the canvas (something that has proven surprisingly challenging). Everything beyond that is aesthetics—arranging coloured blobs in a way that best tickles the mind of the viewer.15 Paul Graham has been hugely successful as a programmer and venture capitalist, and his essays about technology and business are sometimes thought-provoking and insightful. But his writings about art are full of majestically fatuous statements delivered with oracular certainty: “One of the reasons Jane Austen’s novels are so good is that she read them out loud to her family. That’s why she never sinks into self-indulgently arty descriptions of landscapes, or pretentious philosophizing.”16 And, “The paintings made between 1430 and 1500 are still unsurpassed.”17 But for Graham’s primary readership of programmers, these pronouncements are the foundational caissons on which his grand art-hacking equivalence rests.
That’s why she never sinks into self-indulgently arty descriptions of landscapes, or pretentious philosophizing.”16 And, “The paintings made between 1430 and 1500 are still unsurpassed.”17 But for Graham’s primary readership of programmers, these pronouncements are the foundational caissons on which his grand art-hacking equivalence rests. Ceglowski the painter is skeptical: You can safely replace “painters”… with “poets,” “composers,” “pastry chefs” or “auto mechanics” with no loss of meaning or insight … The reason Graham’s essay isn’t entitled “Hackers and Pastry Chefs” is not because there is something that unites painters and programmers into a secret brotherhood, but because Paul Graham likes to cultivate the arty aura that comes from working in the visual arts.18 My first response to Graham’s programmers-as-artists maneuver was as exasperated as Ceglowski’s, but after the initial irritation had passed I began to think about the specific aesthetic claims Graham was making for code, about what kind of beauty code might possess, and why Graham would want to claim the mantle of artistry.
Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday
Airbnb, iterative process, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, market design, minimum viable product, Paul Graham, pets.com, post-work, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Steve Wozniak, Travis Kalanick
How it’s infiltrating the next generation of companies; how it’s reshaping marketing, PR, and advertising from top to bottom; how even authors are using the principles in their book launches. And that process starts far earlier than you think. The new marketing mind-set begins not a few weeks before launch but, in fact, during the development and design phase. So we will begin there, with the most important marketing decision you will likely ever make. STEP 1 It Begins with Product Market Fit Make stuff people want. —Paul Graham You know what the single worst marketing decision you can make is? Starting with a product nobody wants or nobody needs. Yet for years, this was a scenario that marketers tolerated and accepted as part of the job. We all told ourselves that “you go to market with the product you have, not the one you want.” And then we wondered why our strategies failed—and why those failures were so expensive.
But if you don’t have the time or the access, below are some amazing resources that pick up where this book leaves off. Blogs and Personalities: Andrew Chen’s essays http://andrewchen.co Noah Kagan’s blog http://okdork.com Patrick Vlaskovits http://vlaskovits.com/blog twitter.com/pv Jesse Farmer http://20bits.com Sean Ellis http://www.startup-marketing.com Paul Graham’s essays http://www.paulgraham.com/articles.html Aaron Ginn http://www.aginnt.com Josh Elman https://medium.com/@joshelman Or just follow most of these guys as they answer questions at: http://www.quora.com/Growth-Hacking Books: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries The Lean Entrepreneur by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston Viral Loop by Adam L.
The New Kingmakers by Stephen O'Grady
AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, cloud computing, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, David Heinemeier Hansson, DevOps, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Netflix Prize, Paul Graham, Ruby on Rails, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, software is eating the world, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, Y Combinator
Historically, the funding options available to these entrepreneurs have been limited—angel investors are few and far between, which left only loans from friends, family, banks, or credit unions. Even when venture capitalists took an interest, the deals they offered often were not favorable for entrepreneurs—they frequently provided more money than was required in order to obtain the largest possible share of the company. Then in 2008, Paul Graham’s Y Combinator launched. Recognizing that the technology landscape had dramatically lowered the cost of starting a business, Y Combinator offered substantially less money—typically less than $20,000—in return for a commensurately smaller share of the company. Its average equity stake was around 6%. The falling costs of business creation led to a decoupling of the average deal size with the average deal volume.
If the technology assets acquired are non-strategic, the return from releasing the assets as open source code are certain to exceed that of killing them through inattention. The code may or may not find a life beyond its original home within the startup, but the acquirer benefits either way. Invest in Developer Relations Born out of government propaganda efforts during the first World War, Public Relations is a profession and a practice that every technology vendor invests in today. As Paul Graham writes: One of the most surprising things I discovered during my brief business career was the existence of the PR industry, lurking like a huge, quiet submarine beneath the news. Of the stories you read in traditional media that aren’t about politics, crimes, or disasters, more than half probably come from PR firms. Whether the capabilities are built in-house or outsourced to third-party agencies, and whether the efforts are massive and industry-wide in scope or confined to brochure-ware websites, PR is at worst considered a cost of doing business.
Brave New Work: Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization? by Aaron Dignan
"side hustle", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, butterfly effect, cashless society, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, deliberate practice, DevOps, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, endowment effect, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, gender pay gap, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, Google X / Alphabet X, hiring and firing, hive mind, income inequality, information asymmetry, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, loose coupling, loss aversion, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, race to the bottom, remote working, Richard Thaler, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, smart contracts, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software is eating the world, source of truth, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the High Line, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, uber lyft, universal basic income, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
confide in one another: Alexandra Jamieson and Bob Gower, Getting to Hell Yes (self-published, 2018), gettingtohellyes.com. “All managers at Handelsbanken”: Handelsbanken, “Anders Bouvin, new President and Group Chief Executive of Handelsbanken,” press release, August 16, 2016, http://news.cision.com/handelsbanken/r/anders-bouvin--new-president-and-group-chief-executive-of-handelsbanken,c2059556. “do things that don’t scale”: Paul Graham, “Do Things That Don’t Scale,” Paul Graham, http://paulgraham.com/ds.html. recent research by David DeSteno: David DeSteno, The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More (New York: Plume, 2014). “Questions are places in your mind”: Jason Fried, “What are questions?,” Medium, August 1, 2016, https://m.signalvnoise.com/what-are-questions-51c20fde777d. EPILOGUE: WHAT DREAMS MAY COME “if you’re giving back, you took too much”: Ricardo Semler, “How to run a company with (almost no rules),” TED video, 21:43, October, 2014, www.ted.com/talks/ricardo_semler_how_to_run_a_company_with_almost_no_rules.
You’ll be surprised how easy it is to scale something that has been validated and improved by the people who have to use it every day. When your team is taking smaller bites, there’s a feeling of momentum, and the electricity of that is palpable. Other teams see it. They feel it. And they want it for themselves. None of this is to say that scale doesn’t matter, just that it’s not our first priority. Paul Graham, one of the cofounders of the startup incubator Y Combinator, advises his startups to “do things that don’t scale.” What he means is that in the early days of anything new, worrying about scale can prevent us from learning, growing, and being remarkable. Think systemically. Act locally. And let scale happen. Learn by Doing We are all experts in our current way of working. After years or even decades of practice, we know how to play the game, even if the game is flawed.
A complete list of influences would be far too long (you should see my Brave New Work library), so I’ll simply thank those who have taught me the most: Dennis Bakke, Steve Blank, Jos de Blok, Bjarte Bosgnes, Jacob Bøtter, Brian Carney, James Carse, W. Edwards Deming, David Dewane, Peter Drucker, Amy Edmondson, Charles Eisenstein, Gerard Endenburg, Robin Fraser, Jason Fried, Isaac Getz, James Gleick, Seth Godin, Deborah Gordon, Paul Graham, Adam Grant, Dave Gray, Gary Hamel, David Heinemeier Hansson, Tim Harford, Frederick Herzberg, Jeremy Hope, Steven Johnson, Daniel Kahneman, Kevin Kelly, David Kidder, Doug Kirkpatrick, Henrik Kniberg, Lars Kolind, John Kotter, Frederic Laloux, Jason Little, David Marquet, John E. Mayfield, Douglas McGregor, Greg McKeown, Melanie Mitchell, Taiichi Ohno, Tom Peters, Niels Pflaeging, Daniel Pink, Adam Pisoni, Eric Ries, Brian Robertson, Ricardo Semler, Peter Senge, Simon Sinek, Dave Snowden, Nassim Taleb, Ben Thompson, Geoffrey West, Meg Wheatley, Keith Yamashita, Jean-Francois Zobrist, and the few I forgot.
Extreme Teams: Why Pixar, Netflix, AirBnB, and Other Cutting-Edge Companies Succeed Where Most Fail by Robert Bruce Shaw, James Foster, Brilliance Audio
Airbnb, augmented reality, call centre, cloud computing, deliberate practice, Elon Musk, future of work, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Jony Ive, loose coupling, meta analysis, meta-analysis, nuclear winter, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, performance metric, Peter Thiel, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh
They may not say so explicitly, but they’re usually trying to improve the world. Which means people with a desire to improve the world have a natural advantage.” Paul Graham blog, November 2014. paulgraham.com/mean.html. 33The Anarchist’s Cookbook. Charles Fishman. Fast Company, July 1, 2014. Justin Fox. The HBR Interview: What Is It That Only I Can Do? Harvard Business Review. January-February 2011. 34Paul Graham observes, “It’s unlikely that every successful startup improves the world. But their founders, like parents, truly believe they do. Successful founders are in love with their companies. And while this sort of love is as blind as the love people have for one another, it is genuine.” Paul Graham blog. Paulgraham.com/mean.html. 35This higher purpose doesn’t mean that Apple hasn’t made mistakes over its history, outsourcing some of its manufacturing to plants that operated in manner that calls into question their treatment of employees. 36Amy Wrzesniewski, C.
People in a madhouse never admit they are crazy. They believe the outsiders are. That’s why people here in Alibaba are united.25 Obsession comes in three, frequently interconnected, forms. The first, and most important, is an obsession with the work itself and resulting product. In many cutting-edge firms and teams, people view work as central to their identities—not something they do but something they are. Paul Graham, a well-known investor in startup firms, suggests that these people are ridiculously committed to what they produce—fixating, for example, on product details that customers don’t even notice. These are also people who persevere and survive when others are defeated by the challenges they face.26 Obsessive people work primarily to satisfy their own needs. Not the needs of customers or shareholders.
Aug 31, 2015 22See Geoff Colvin, (New York: Portfolio, 2008). 23Andre Agassi, (New York: Vintage, 2010). 24See the group’s website, www.workaholics-anonymous.org/. 25Xiao-Ping Chen, “Company Culture and Values Are the Lifelines of Alibaba: An Interview with Jack Ma, Founder and Executive,” Executive Perspectives, August 2013, www.iacmr.org/V2/Publications/CMI/LP021101_EN.pdf. 26Graham describes the best founders as being cockroach like—in that they will survive anything, including a nuclear winter, while others perish. See Airbnb, “Conversation with Paul Graham,” YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrWavoJsEks. 27“Innovation lessons from Pixar: An interview with Oscar-winning director Brad Bird,” McKinsey Quarterly Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton, and Allen P. Webb. April 2008. 28Anthony Lane, “The Fun Factory: Life at Pixar,” New Yorker, May 16, 2011. Jon Michaud, “Animated by Perfectionism,” New Yorker, May 16, 2011. “Snow White was finished in a panic, and years later Disney was still fretting over the shortcomings of his heroine . . . the wobbles in her construction.
The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, Boris Johnson, Burning Man, call centre, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, collaborative consumption, East Village, fixed income, Google X / Alphabet X, housing crisis, inflight wifi, Jeff Bezos, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Necker cube, obamacare, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, race to the bottom, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, Y Combinator, Y2K, Zipcar
“The business was just not working.” Before they left for the interview, Gebbia went to grab boxes of the cereal. Blecharczyk snapped at him. “No, no, no,” he said. “Keep the cereal at home.” Gebbia pretended to acquiesce, then surreptitiously slipped two boxes into his bag anyway. The interview at Y Combinator’s offices in Mountain View was practically hostile. “People are actually doing this?” asked Paul Graham, the program’s legendary co-founder, when the three men described the home-sharing concept. “Why? What’s wrong with them?” Graham, then forty-four, later admitted that he didn’t get it. “I wouldn’t want to stay on anyone else’s sofa and I didn’t want anyone to stay on mine,” he says. But after they turned to go, to Blecharczyk’s consternation, Gebbia brought out the two boxes of cereal and handed them to Graham, who was rightfully confused.
McAdoo and Graham were discussing that most essential characteristic of great entrepreneurs: mental toughness, the ability to overcome the hurdles and negativity that typically accompany something new. McAdoo and his partners had identified this kind of true grit as the most important attribute in the founders of their successful portfolio companies, like Google and PayPal. Scouting for new opportunities despite the gathering economic storm enveloping the world, McAdoo asked Graham: “So, who in this class of startups is the most mentally, emotionally tough?” “Well, that’s easy,” Paul Graham responded, and he pointed across the room at two designers and an engineer, all hunkered over their laptops. “Hands down, it’s those guys over there.” CHAPTER 2 JAM SESSIONS The Early Years of Uber When you open up that app and you get that experience of, like, I am living in the future, like I pushed a frickin’ button and a car showed up and now I’m a pimp—Garrett is the guy who invented that shit!
Exploring this thesis, he visited more than half a dozen web outfits, such as LeisureLink and Escapia, and started watching HomeAway, an Austin, Texas, company that was gobbling up rivals like the VRBO—Vacation Rentals by Owner—in an effort to create a dominant network of vacation properties. McAdoo spent nearly a year sizing up these companies, but he wasn’t convinced that any of them had a particularly novel approach. “It was a very fragmented market and it was never clear how it should be presented online,” he said many years later. “Frankly, I had moved on.” Then, in early 2009, he sat down for coffee with Y Combinator chief Paul Graham and started talking about the mental toughness that founders needed, and Graham pointed across the room to the Airbnb guys as prime examples. McAdoo introduced himself to Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk that day and was struck by their approach. The vacation-rental startup founders he had talked to were trying to make the experience better for travelers; the Airbnb guys wanted to make it better for hosts.
The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class?and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida
affirmative action, Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Sanders, blue-collar work, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, Columbine, congestion charging, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, East Village, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, Ferguson, Missouri, Gini coefficient, Google bus, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, jitney, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land value tax, low skilled workers, Lyft, megacity, Menlo Park, mortgage tax deduction, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, occupational segregation, Paul Graham, plutocrats, Plutocrats, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, superstar cities, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, young professional
These are not mere coincidences: great cities are creative and innovative across the board. In fact, my research shows empirically that artistic and cultural creativity acts alongside the high-tech industry and business and finance to power economic growth. The current urban trend in high tech is not so much a startling reversal as a correction of a historical aberration. The venture capital icon Paul Graham saw the writing on the wall in 2006. For all its advantages and power, he wrote, Silicon Valley had a great weakness. This high-tech “paradise,” with its roots in the 1950s and 1960s, had become “one giant parking lot,” he observed. “San Francisco and Berkeley are great, but they’re 40 miles away. Silicon Valley proper is soul-crushing suburban sprawl. It has fabulous weather, which makes it significantly better than the soul-crushing sprawl of most other American cities.
“The change has created a new vocabulary: Yuppification, croissantification, Manhattanization.”22 Techies and tech startups are just the latest players in a much longer running battle over urban space. That said, the incredible wealth generated by tech startups can and does contribute to the growing gaps between the advantaged and less advantaged. It’s not just lefties and activists who are raising concerns. In a hotly debated essay, venture capitalist Paul Graham argued that startup cities and high-tech districts are “manufacturers of inequality,” but nevertheless defended them as the price of progress: “You can’t prevent great variations in wealth without preventing people from getting rich, and you can’t do that without preventing them from starting startups,” he wrote. He went on to point out that the real problem is persistent poverty and declining social mobility, and that our focus on inequality fixates us more on a symptom than on the underlying disease.23 Yet, to what extent are urban startups and the techies who are increasingly settling in cities responsible for rising urban housing prices, inequality, and gentrification?
Richard Florida and Karen King, Rise of the Global Startup City: The Geography of Venture Capital Investment in Cities and Metro Areas Across the Globe (Toronto: Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, 2016), http://martinprosperity.org/content/rise-of-the-global-startup-city. 18. Alessandro Piol and Maria Teresa Cometto, Tech and the City: The Making of New York’s Startup Community (San Francisco: Mirandola Press, 2013). 19. “Stern’s Urbanization Project Hosts a Conversation with Richard Florida and Fred Wilson,” NYU Stern School of Business, October 9, 2013, www.stern.nyu.edu/experience-stern/news-events/conversation-florida-wilson. 20. Paul Graham, “How to Be Silicon Valley,” PaulGraham.com, May 2006, www.paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html. 21. Rory Carroll, “Oakland: The City That Told Google to Get Lost,” The Guardian, February 11, 2014, www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/10/city-google-go-away-oakland-california; Ellen Huet, “Protesters Block, Vomit on Yahoo Bus in Oakland,” SFGate, April 2, 2014, http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2014/04/02/protesters-block-vomit-on-yahoo-bus-in-oakland; Rebecca Solnit, “Diary: Google Invades,” London Review of Books, February 7, 2013, 34–35, www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n03/rebecca-solnit/diary.
Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy
algorithmic trading, Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, High speed trading, impulse control, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, Menlo Park, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nick Leeson, paper trading, Paul Graham, payday loans, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, six sigma, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, upwardly mobile, Walter Mischel
Not surprisingly, if procrastination is viewed so negatively, treatments will be designed to eradicate its presence and influence. But we don’t necessarily need to take such a draconian approach. If our problems are the result of high discount rates, so that we make decisions that leave us worse off, then procrastination is an evil and we should make every effort to stop. But often we use the term to describe behavior that is not so bad. Sometimes it is good to procrastinate. In 2005, Paul Graham, a computer programmer, investor, writer, and painter, wrote an essay called “Good and Bad Procrastination.” He opens by saying, “The most impressive people I know are all terrible procrastinators. So could it be that procrastination isn’t always bad? Most people who write about procrastination write about how to cure it. But this is, strictly speaking, impossible.”60 Graham notes that when we procrastinate we don’t work on something.
If we aren’t working at all, we are being slothful. If we are working on something unimportant, we are showing bad judgment. But if we are working on something important, then does it really make sense to judge us negatively for not working on something less important? If we put off errands because we are trying to cure cancer, are we really procrastinating? And if that is the meaning of procrastination, why is it so bad? For Paul Graham, procrastination is all about trade-offs. We are constantly trading off what we are doing now against what we might do in the future. As long as we are doing that in a reasonable way, it doesn’t matter that we are putting some things off. In February 1996, John Perry, a philosophy professor at Stanford University, finally got around to writing an essay about procrastination for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
As a young, untenured economics professor, Stiglitz probably wasn’t planning to wear a Nepali wedding costume very often anyway. So Akerlof’s procrastination wasn’t so irrational after all. He didn’t suffer from self-control problems or impatience generally. He felt bad about not sending the box—we often feel bad about not doing things—but his behavior didn’t suggest that his short-term discount rate was too high. The cost of sending the box was high, and the benefit was low. The box was like one of Paul Graham’s important tasks or John Perry’s book-order forms. Akerlof was in India beginning work on a research program that would lead to dozens of articles, numerous influential books, and a Nobel Prize. For eight months, that box was at the top of Akerlof’s to-do list, a salient task that he put off each day. He procrastinated, and at the same time he got a lot of other things done. 11 | MASTER CLASS The challenge of procrastination is figuring how to weigh immediate versus distant consequences.
How to Build a Billion Dollar App: Discover the Secrets of the Most Successful Entrepreneurs of Our Time by George Berkowski
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Black Swan, business intelligence, call centre, crowdsourcing, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, MITM: man-in-the-middle, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, Paul Graham, QR code, Ruby on Rails, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Travis Kalanick, ubercab, Y Combinator
Part of achieving product–market fit is demonstrating – with sufficient data – that users are super-happy to pay to use your service. Throughout this stage of the journey we’ll focus on how best to use your seed financing to achieve these goals and set the foundations for a solid app company – and put you in a great place to seduce some serious professional investors to allow you to expand your team and accelerate growth. How to Deliver Wow Paul Graham – one of the founders of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s top startup incubator – offers a great morsel of advice after decades of experience delivering software: ‘Don’t build something clever, build what people want.’ The nature of technology – and software companies in particular – has evolved quickly over the last decade. Open-source software – along with easily accessible services such as payment, mapping, messaging (and many others) in the form of APIs (application programming interfaces) – allows any developer to build powerful programs.
I get very excited about being able to objectively measure how much users love an app that I have helped build. There is something great about creating a positive feedback loop that constantly drives improvements – improvements that first and foremost enhance the experience for users, and, as a by-product, improve the performance of your business. Another simple piece of advice from Y Combinator’s Paul Graham takes us to the next level of measurement: ‘Build something users love, and spend less than you make.’1 To achieve this you first need not only to be able to continually measure how much users love your app but also to start building a picture around the costs – and revenue – driven by your users. This is the core of building your growth and revenue engines. Earlier, we used Dave McClure’s pirate-sounding metrics, AARRR, as a starting point to measure the performance of your prototype app.
If they’re in a meeting, they’re not making.5 I am not saying that makers should never attend meetings. As we’ve seen, meetings first thing in the morning – daily stand-ups, where developers and designers quickly discuss what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today and anything that’s blocking their progress – are helpful. Facebook has a loose policy called ‘No-Meeting Wednesday’, when engineers are encouraged to ‘stay focused on building products’. Y Combinator’s Paul Graham echoes this idea on his blog: When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster because they disrupt the creative flow. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.6 For a maker, a single meeting can destroy their flow for a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything meaningful in. The best approach for organising meetings on a maker’s schedule is to have them at predictable times of day.
The End of Nice: How to Be Human in a World Run by Robots (Kindle Single) by Richard Newton
3D printing, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Clayton Christensen, crowdsourcing, deliberate practice, disruptive innovation, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, future of work, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, lateral thinking, Lean Startup, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Paul Erdős, Paul Graham, recommendation engine, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, social intelligence, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Y Combinator
Becoming Anti-Nice “Though the most successful founders are usually good people, they tend to have a piratical gleam in their eye. They’re not Goody Two-Shoes type good. Morally, they care about getting the big questions right, but not about observing proprieties. That’s why I’d use the word naughty rather than evil. They delight in breaking rules, but not rules that matter. This quality may be redundant though; it may be implied by imagination.” – Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator In his autobiography, Mark Twain tells of his childhood friend, Tom Blankenship, who was the inspiration for Huckleberry Finn, a character who was poorly educated and stood outside society but as a result appraised the world and society around him with a clear and critical eye: “In Huckleberry Finn I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had.
In contrast, this more detailed recent research suggests that Mozart was in fact wrestling with his composition all day long, sometimes on paper and sometimes in his prodigious memory. Far from being the passive recipient of great work, the truth is that creativity is work – a great deal of it. Grit The magic lies, brace yourself, in determination. When he spoke about the number one quality he looks for in founders, Paul Graham of Y Combinator said: “Determination. This has turned out to be the most important quality in start-up founders. We thought when we started Y Combinator that the most important quality would be intelligence. That’s the myth in the Valley. And certainly you don’t want founders to be stupid. But as long as you’re over a certain threshold of intelligence, what matters most is determination. You’re going to hit a lot of obstacles.
Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares
Airbnb, Firefox, if you build it, they will come, jimmy wales, Justin.tv, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Network effects, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, side project, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, the payments system, Uber for X, web application, working poor, Y Combinator
Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList, an online platform that helps companies raise money, says it well: Traction is basically quantitative evidence of customer demand. So if you’re in enterprise software, [initial traction] may be two or three early customers who are paying a bit; if you’re in consumer software the bar might be as high as hundreds of thousands of users. You can always get more traction. The whole point of a startup is to grow rapidly. Getting traction means moving your growth curve up and to the right as best you can. Paul Graham, founder of startup accelerator Y Combinator, puts it like this: A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth. Traction is growth.
And in phase III, your focus is on increasing your earnings, scaling your marketing channels, and creating a truly sustainable business. Phase I is very product focused and involves pursuing initial traction while also building your initial product. This often means getting traction in ways that don’t scale—giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you have relationships with, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers. As Paul Graham said in his essay “Do Things That Don’t Scale”: A lot of would-be founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. You build something, make it available, and if you’ve made a better mousetrap, people beat a path to your door as promised. Or they don’t, in which case the market must not exist. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off. . . . The most common unscalable thing founders have to do at the start is to recruit users manually.
CHAPTER SIX Targeting Blogs Targeting blogs prospective customers read is one of the most effective ways to get your first wave of customers. However, this traction channel can be difficult to scale in phases II and III due to the limited number of relevant high-traffic blogs. That’s okay. Not all traction channels are infinitely scalable. In fact, using tactics that don’t scale is one of the best ways to get your first customers. Paul Graham put it like this: The need to do something unscalably laborious to get started is so nearly universal that it might be a good idea to stop thinking of startup ideas as scalars. Instead we should try thinking of them as pairs of what you’re going to build, plus the unscalable thing(s) you’re going to do initially to get the company going. We interviewed Noah Kagan, former head of marketing at Mint and founder of AppSumo, to learn how he used this channel to get significant initial traction for both startups by targeting blogs.
Ruby by example: concepts and code by Kevin C. Baird
Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), David Heinemeier Hansson, Debian, digital map, Donald Knuth, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, fudge factor, general-purpose programming language, Guido van Rossum, Larry Wall, MVC pattern, Paul Graham, Perl 6, premature optimization, union organizing, web application
It is also diverse enough to resist many classification attempts, but for our purposes, the Lisps can be thought of mainly as functional languages with weak, dynamic typing. Renowned Lisper Paul Graham describes “What Made Lisp Different” at http://paulgraham.com/ diff.html, and it’s interesting to note that Ruby shares all of these features except for Lisp’s peculiar syntax. Lisp’s syntax (or lack thereof) is probably its most noteworthy feature, at first glance. Lisp code consists of bits of data bound by opening and closing parentheses. These bits are called lists, and they give Lisp its name (which 2 You can read more about Parrot at http://www.parrotcode.org; I’ll cover Python later in this appendix. 3 Dutch computer science Edsger Dijkstra said this; you can find this and other interesting quotes compiled by Paul Graham at http://www.paulgraham.com/quo.html. Ho w D oes R ub y C om pa re t o O th er L an g ua ges ?
However, sometimes you might really want to use a library someone has already written in another language—like Python, for instance—in a web program. If you use CGI, you could write part of your web application in Python in order to use that library. You might also have a section of your web application that is highly speed critical, so you could write that part in C for execution speed, and the rest in Ruby for development speed. This is exactly the reason that Paul Graham and his colleagues chose to use a combination of Lisp and C for their company Viaweb, which eventually became Yahoo! Stores. They were able to do so because the CGI specification holds across multiple languages. Preparation and Installation Before we get going with Ruby and CGI, we’ve got to do a little work to get our webserver ready. For the purposes of this chapter, I’ll be focusing on getting CGI working for the Apache webserver running on a Unix-like environment.
Larry Wall, the creator of Perl, suggested that Lisp code has all the aesthetic appeal of “oatmeal with toenail clippings.” Clearly, Lisp has some public relations problems. 5 Relatedly, Philip Greenspun’s tenth Rule of Programming at http://philip.greenspun.com/ research is “Any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad-hoc, informallyspecified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp.” 6 264 A pp en dix This quote also comes from Paul Graham’s website, http://www.paulgraham.com/quotes.html. more popular for web work. Many of the languages discussed here can be used in embedded code within web pages, provided that the code is marked off from the rest of the page with the appropriate tags. PHP is unusual in that it must always be demarcated with such tags, even when it is used for command-line tasks that will never come near a webserver.
The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things by Daniel Kellmereit, Daniel Obodovski
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, business intelligence, call centre, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, commoditize, connected car, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Freestyle chess, Google X / Alphabet X, Internet of things, lifelogging, Metcalfe’s law, Network effects, Paul Graham, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Robert Metcalfe, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart grid, software as a service, Steve Jobs, web application, Y Combinator, yield management
In the next chapter we will take a look at the investment attractiveness of the M2M space. 27 Luke Dempsey, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated … All the Bits,” Python Productions, Ltd., 159. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilimanjaro_Expedition.) 28 Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (New York: Basic Books, 1988). Chapter 7 WHERE TO INVEST All creative people want to do the unexpected. ~ Hedy Lamarr According to Paul Graham of Y Combinator, the best way to get start-up ideas is not to think of start-up ideas. Instead, one should focus on problems one has firsthand experience with.29 This is great advice for both start-up and corporate entrepreneurs, but what about investors? How would investors know where to put their money if they are not familiar with the space and specific problems? Sometimes investors can take their cues from entrepreneurs, but they will also need to develop their own opinions.
Specifically, on the data mining and statistical analysis of data as well as on the data acquisition side — hardware — that’s where we believe the most opportunities for innovation and investment are. But at the end of the day, the best investment opportunities are going to be driven by very well-defined problems that the Internet of Things will help solve: increased visibility, increased productivity, reduced guesswork, better risk management, and better connection to our environment. 29 Paul Graham, “How to Get Startup Ideas,” November 2012. http://www.paulgraham.com/startupideas.html. 30 Iain Morris, “Intelligent Systems to Drive Value in M2M Market: IDC,” Telecom Engine, June 4, 2013. http://www.telecomengine.com/article/intelligent-systems-drive-value-m2m-market-idc. 31 Singularity University, “What Is Singularity University?” http://singularityu.org/overview/. 32 Wikipedia, “Metcalfe’s Law,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe’s_law. 33 Quantified Self, “What We Are Reading,” http://quantifiedself.com/. 34 Department of Health and Human Services, “Food Labeling; Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food in Vending Machines; Proposed Rule,“ Federal Register, April 6, 2011. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-06/html/2011-8037.htm. 35 Just prior to publishing, Jawbone acquired BodyMedia for over $100 million.
The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen
"Robert Solow", 3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bob Geldof, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, lifelogging, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Metcalfe’s law, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer rental, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, Thomas L Friedman, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator
Reid Hoffman, the billionaire founder of LinkedIn, advises entrepreneurs to “fail fast.”5 Paul Graham, a multimillionaire angel investor, calls his incubator of startup Internet ventures, which has hatched many successful startups, including Alexis Ohanian’s Reddit, “Failure Central,”6 while Dave McClure, another wealthy angel, not to be outfailed by his successful rival, talks up his equally successful 500 Startups incubator as “Fail Factory.”7 Indeed, the cult of failure has become such a mania in the Valley that there is now even an entire event, a San Francisco conference called FailCon, dedicated to its veneration. But, of course, winner-take-all entrepreneurs like Reid Hoffman, Tim O’Reilly, and Paul Graham know as much about failure as Michael and Xochi Birch know about running a village pub.
The third-generation Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is launching a 2014 “Six Californias” ballot measure to redraw California into six separate US states, including one called “Silicon Valley.”73 And the venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who boasted at FailCon about his own failure, has already seceded. Having bought a $37.5 million, 89-acre property in Half Moon Bay, a coastal town just south of San Francisco, Khosla unilaterally declared independence and blocked all public access to a much-loved local beach beside his property.74 Balaji Srinivasan, a Stanford University lecturer and startup entrepreneur, has taken the secession fantasy one crazy step further. At one of Paul Graham’s “Failure Central” Y Combinator startup events, Srinivasan pitched the concept of what he called “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit,” a complete withdrawal of Silicon Valley from the United States. “We need to build opt-in society, outside the US, run by technology,” is how he described a ridiculous fantasy that would turn Silicon Valley into a kind of free-floating island that Wired’s Bill Wasik satirizes as the “offshore plutocracy of Libertaristan.”75 And one group of “Libertaristanians” at the Peter Thiel–funded, Silicon Valley–based Seasteading Institute, founded by Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer and the grandson of the granddaddy of free-market economics, Milton Friedman, has even begun to plan floating utopias that would drift off the Pacific coast.76 Behind all these secession fantasies is the very concrete reality of the secession of the rich from everyone else in Silicon Valley.
Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull, Kathleen M. Eisenhardt
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, Checklist Manifesto, complexity theory, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, haute cuisine, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, Network effects, obamacare, Paul Graham, performance metric, price anchoring, RAND corporation, risk/return, Saturday Night Live, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Startup school, statistical model, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, transportation-network company, two-sided market, Wall-E, web application, Y Combinator, Zipcar
This was another opportunity to learn—this time through presenting Airbnb’s story and getting feedback and insights from peers. These dinners created a relentless weekly rhythm of stepping back to reflect, getting feedback and ideas, and heading back to work. Another way of learning was through tailored expert advice. The Airbnb founders gained two pivotal insights from Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham that critically reframed their conception of what to do. One piece of advice was counterintuitive—forget about growing Airbnb, and instead focus on creating the perfect Airbnb experience. Graham’s argument was, “It’s better to have a hundred people love you than to have a million people like you.” The second piece of advice was to stop organizing their business around conferences and get out into cities.
The founders initially conceived their target customer as young, male, and poor. In fact, Airbnb has more guests over fifty-five years old than between eighteen and twenty-five, and accommodations, including Italian villas and beachfront bungalows, are not always cheap. Pursuing many ways of learning increases the likelihood of creative insights. The founders of Airbnb could not have predicted, for example, that Paul Graham’s advice would be so essential to reimagining their simple rules. Yet by pursuing many avenues of learning, the founders improved their odds of experiencing the aha moments. Multitasking in learning also works because when people learn the same lesson in different ways, the learning is reinforced and better learned. This is reflected in teaching—our students learn best when they learn in multiple ways like reading articles, watching videos, having an in-class discussion, and hearing a lecture.
. [>] When the two friends: Jessica Salter, “Airbnb: The Story Behind the $1.3bn Room-Letting Website,” Telegraph, September 7, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9525267/Airbnb-The-story-behind-the-1.3bn-room-letting-website.html. [>] Because of the success: Ibid. [>] Y Combinator is a “seed accelerator”: Benjamin L. Hallen, Christopher B. Bingham, and Susan L. Cohen, “Do Accelerators Accelerate? A Study of Venture Accelerators as a Path to Success” (working paper, University of Washington, Seattle, 2013). [>] At this point: Paul Graham, October 2013, “What Happens at Y Combinator,” http://ycombinator.com/atyc.html, accessed April 28, 2014; and Freedman, 2013, “YC Without Being in YC,” http://blog.42floors.com, accessed April 28, 2014. Firsthand account of how former Y Combinator entrepreneurs mimicked the Y Combinator experience by pretending that they had just been accepted again. [>] Another way of learning: Derek Thompson, “Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on Building a Company and Starting a Sharing Revolution,” Atlantic, August 13, 2013, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/08/airbnb-ceo-brian-chesky-on-building-a-company-and-starting-a- sharing-revolution/278635/. [>] As Brian recalled: Ibid. [>] Like clockwork: Tame, “From Toilet Seats to $1 Billion.” [>] The founders coupled these: Jessie Hempel, “More Than a Place to Crash,” Fortune, May 3, 2012, http://fortune.com/2012/05/03/airbnb-more-than-a-place-to-crash/. [>] The founders also had: Vella and Bradley, “Airbnb CEO—‘Grow Fast but not Too Fast.’” [>] Airbnb ended up with: Tomio Geron, “Airbnb Hires Joie de Vivre’s Chip Conley as Head of Hospitality,” Forbes, September 17, 2013, http://www.Forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2013/09/17. [>] In fact, Airbnb: Salter, “Airbnb: The Story Behind the $1.3bn Room-Letting Website.” [>] Airbnb has become: Thompson, “Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on Building a Company and Starting a Sharing Revolution.” 8.
Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster by Alistair Croll, Benjamin Yoskovitz
Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, barriers to entry, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Ben Horowitz, bounce rate, business intelligence, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, constrained optimization, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, frictionless market, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, Infrastructure as a Service, Internet of things, inventory management, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, Lean Startup, lifelogging, longitudinal study, Marshall McLuhan, minimum viable product, Network effects, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, performance metric, place-making, platform as a service, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, sentiment analysis, skunkworks, Skype, social graph, social software, software as a service, Steve Jobs, subscription business, telemarketer, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, web application, Y Combinator
To decide which metrics you should track, you need to be able to describe your business model in no more complex a manner than a lemonade stand’s. You need to step back, ignore all the details, and just think about the really big components. When you reduce things to their basic building blocks in this way, you come up with only a few fundamental business models on the Web. Interestingly, all of them share some common themes. First, their aim is to grow (in fact, Paul Graham says that a focus on growth is the one defining attribute of a startup). And second, that growth is achieved by one of Eric Ries’s fundamental Engines of Growth: an increase in stickiness, virality, or revenue. Each business model needs to maximize the thrust from these three engines in order to flourish. Sergio Zyman, Coca-Cola’s CMO, said marketing is about selling more stuff to more people more often for more money more efficiently. Business growth comes from improving one of these five “knobs”: More stuff means adding products or services, preferably those you know your customers want so you don’t waste time building things they won’t use or buy.
Then, in the following chapters, we’ll dig into metrics specific to the six business models we’ve covered earlier. Remember, though, that while you might turn immediately to the chapter for your business model, there’s always some overlap and relevant metrics in other business models that should be helpful to you. So we encourage you to look at what’s normal for other business models, too. Growth Rate Investor Paul Graham makes a good case that above all else, a startup is a company designed to grow fast. In fact, it’s this growth that distinguishes a startup from other new ventures like a cobbler or a restaurant. Startups, Paul says, go through three distinct growth phases: slow, where the organization is searching for a product and market to tackle; fast, where it has figured out how to make and sell it at scale; and slow again, as it becomes a big company and encounters internal constraints or market saturation, and tries to overcome Porter’s “hole in the middle.”
One study showed that Pinterest users spend 14 minutes on the site each day, Tumblr users spend 21 minutes a day, and Facebook users spend an hour a day on the site. Bottom Line You’ll have a very good indicator of stickiness when site visitors are spending 17 minutes a day on your site. Reddit Part 1—From Links to a Community From humble beginnings as a startup in the first cohort of Paul Graham’s Y Combinator accelerator, reddit has grown to be one of the highest-traffic destinations on the Web. Reddit began as a simple link-sharing site, but over the years it’s changed significantly. “A lot of features were just us sitting down and thinking, ‘what would be cool to have?’” says Jeremy Edberg, who was reddit’s first employee and ran infrastructure operations. “When the site first launched, it was just for sharing and voting on links.
Team Geek by Brian W. Fitzpatrick, Ben Collins-Sussman
anti-pattern, barriers to entry, cognitive dissonance, Dean Kamen, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, Guido van Rossum, Paul Graham, publish or perish, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, web application
If you don’t believe us, get five of your friends together, go downtown, and try to decide among the six of you how to do a walking tour that hits half a dozen tourist sites. The odds are good that you’ll stand on the street corner arguing for most of the day unless you simply declare one person to be the final arbiter and then follow him wherever he goes. Useless meetings can seem like torture. Meetings are frequently an interruption to what many refer to as “make time,” inspired by Paul Graham’s “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.” It can be hard for engineers to get into the zone if they’re constantly stopping work to attend meetings. Schedule time on your calendar in three- to four-hour blocks and label these blocks as “busy” or even “make time,” and get your work done. If you have to set up a meeting, try to set it up near another natural break in the day, like lunchtime, or the very end of the day.
Brooks (Addison-Wesley Professional) Startup Engineering Management by Piaw Na (self-published) Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman (http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596518387.do) by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye (O’Reilly) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Crown) Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas by Mary Lynn Manns (Addison-Wesley) The Art & Adventure of Beekeeping by Ormond Aebi (Rodale Press) “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” by Paul Graham (http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html) The Art of Readable Code (http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596802301.do) by Dustin Boswell and Trevor Foucher (O’Reilly) Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard (Plume) “The Significance of Task Significance: Job Performance Effects, Relational Mechanisms, and Boundary Conditions” (2008) by Adam M. Grant (Journal of Applied Psychology 93:1, pp. 108–124) Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews by Norman L.
The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha
Airbnb, Andy Kessler, Black Swan, business intelligence, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, David Brooks, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, follow your passion, future of work, game design, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, late fees, lateral thinking, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, out of africa, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, recommendation engine, Richard Bolles, risk tolerance, rolodex, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs
Empathize and Help First Building a genuine relationship with another person depends on (at least) two things. The first is seeing the world from the other person’s perspective. No one knows this better than the skilled entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs succeed when they make stuff people will pay money for, which means understanding what’s going on in the heads of customers. Discovering what people want, in the words of start-up investor Paul Graham, “deals with the most difficult problem in human experience: how to see things from other people’s point of view, instead of thinking only of yourself.”5 Likewise, in relationships, it’s only when you truly put yourself in the other person’s shoes that you begin to develop an honest connection. This is tough. Whereas entrepreneurs have some ways of measuring how well they understand their customers by ultimately watching sales rise and fall, in day-to-day social life there’s no such immediate feedback.
Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009), 22. 3. Pamela Walker Laird, Pull: Networking and Success Since Benjamin Franklin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 11. 4. Jeff Atwood, “The Bad Apple: Group Poison,” Coding Horror: Programming and Human Factors (blog), February 19, 2009, http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2009/02/the-bad-apple-group-poison.html 5. Paul Graham, “Why Smart People Have Bad Ideas,” PaulGraham.com (blog), April 2005, http://www.paulgraham.com/bronze.html 6. David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life (New York: Little, Brown, 2009), 39–40. 7. Neil Rackham and John Carlisle, “The Effective Negotiator, Part I: The Behaviour of Successful Negotiators,” Journal of European Industrial Training 2, no. 6 (1978): 6–11, doi:10.1108/eb002297 8.
My Start-Up Life: What A by Ben Casnocha, Marc Benioff
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, business process, call centre, coherent worldview, creative destruction, David Brooks, don't be evil, fear of failure, hiring and firing, index fund, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Lao Tzu, Menlo Park, Paul Graham, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, superconnector, technology bubble, traffic fines, Year of Magical Thinking
Certainly a grounding in statistics and computation is important, and a strong grasp of accounting. But with the increasing speed and accessibility of computers, even basic math skills seem unnecessary in many kinds of jobs. So whereas technology will continue to process increasingly complex equations, I don’t see technology being able to express increasingly complex ideas, or paint a literary picture, as good, human writing does. As entrepreneur and engineer Paul Graham has said, “Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them. If you’re bad at writing and don’t like to do it, you’ll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated.” On-Demand Education Due to globalization and accelerating change, knowledge—even of the most esoteric sort—is easily accessible. For example, one issue of the Sunday New York Times contains more information than somebody in the Middle Ages was exposed to in an entire lifetime.
Andy Sack’s blog post on “three questions each management team should ask themselves” is at http://asack.typepad.com/a_sack_of_seattle/ 2006/10/the_meeting_tha.html. 188 ENDNOTES “Getting More Good Revenue and Less Bad Revenue” is based on an idea discussed on Will Price’s blog: http://www.willprice.blogspot.com/ 2006/09/how-pure-is-your-model.html. Chapter 16.0: Fulfilling the Mission, One Customer at a Time The sidebar “Make Meaning” contains ideas from Guy Kawasaki’s top ten start-up rules; see http://www.alwayson-network.com/printpage. php?id=11962_0_11_0_C. Chapter 17.0: The Road Ahead I cite Paul Graham’s essay “Writing Briefly,” available at http://www. paulgraham.com/writing44.html. Chapter 18.0: What Will You Be Shouting When You Reach the Grave? “Entrepreneurs Are Optimists” contains ideas from Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman (New York: Vintage Books, 2006). The Author Ben Casnocha (pronounced kas-NO-ka) is a Silicon Valley–based entrepreneur and writer. Currently nineteen years old, he serves on the board of Comcate, (pronounced KOM-kate) Inc., the leading e-government technology firm he founded six years ago.
The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want by Diane Mulcahy
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, basic income, Clayton Christensen, cognitive bias, collective bargaining, creative destruction, David Brooks, deliberate practice, diversification, diversified portfolio, fear of failure, financial independence, future of work, gig economy, helicopter parent, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Lyft, mass immigration, mental accounting, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage tax deduction, negative equity, passive income, Paul Graham, remote working, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, wage slave, Y Combinator, Zipcar
We can’t deepen our connections with others and devote significant attention to our important relationships if we’re also checking email or watching the clock because we’re scheduled for something else in 10 minutes. To be our most effective and efficient selves and to create the time to invest in our priorities, we need reasonably sized blocks of time. One way to create that time is to apply the framework of Maker vs. Manager schedules to our calendars. Paul Graham of Y Combinator introduced the concept in his 2009 blog post “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.”7 I’ll summarize the concepts he introduces, but it’s worth reading it in its entirety. The Manager’s Schedule The Manager’s Schedule is the one most familiar to us, as it’s common for traditional employees and management (as the name implies) in corporations. The day is structured around half-hour to one-hour blocks of time, in which meetings and phone calls take place throughout the day.
Kreider, Tim, “The ‘Busy’ Trap,” The New York Times, June 30 2012. opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?_r=0 6. Sibonney, Clair, “Arianna Huffington on the Third Metric: You Can Complete a Project by Dropping It,” The Huffington Post, September 11, 2013. www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/09/11/arianna-huffington-third-metric_n_3901302.html 7. Graham, Paul, “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule,” Paul Graham, July 2009. www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html 8. Morill, Danielle, “Warming Up to the Manager’s Schedule,” March 23, 2015. medium.com/@DanielleMorrill/warming-up-to-the-manager-s-schedule-e3ec18c7408e#.gxwnuexbp Danielle’s calendar is reproduced here with permission 9. Seligman, Martin E.P., “Building Resilience,” Harvard Business Review, April 2011. hbr.org/2011/04/building-resilience 10.
The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture by Scott Belsky
23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, bitcoin, blockchain, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, delayed gratification, DevOps, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, endowment effect, hiring and firing, Inbox Zero, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, ride hailing / ride sharing, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, subscription business, TaskRabbit, the medium is the message, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, Y Combinator, young professional
“Chipping away at”: Jocelyn Glei, Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done (New York: Public Affairs, 2016), 11. “The problem is that while winnowing”: Ibid. 13. CREATIVE BLOCK IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF AVOIDING THE TRUTH. “It’s easier to tell Zuck”: Paul Graham (@paulg), “It’s easier to tell Zuck that he’s wrong than to tell the average noob founder. He’s not threatened by it. If he’s wrong, he wants to know,” Twitter, May 8, 2017, 1:31 A.M., https://twitter.com/paulg/status/861498777160622080. “What distinguishes great”: Paul Graham (@paulg), “What distinguishes great founders is not their adherence to some vision, but their humility in the face of the truth,” Twitter, May 8, 2017, https://twitter.com/paulg/status/861498048949735424. VALUE THE MERITS OF SLOW COOKING. “Human beings are very”: Daniel Gilbert, “Humans Wired to Respond to Short-term Problems,” NPR, July 3, 2006, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?
Disbelieving your own ideas diminishes your creative energy and sets you up to fail. To conquer creative block, you must ask bold questions and shine the spotlight on the elephants in the room. Perhaps the product is shitty. Perhaps your business model and all the assumptions leading up to it were fundamentally flawed. The truth will hurt, and it may set you back temporarily, but it will ultimately set you free. Entrepreneur and investor Paul Graham, founder of the start-up incubator Y Combinator, once remarked in an interview about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: “It’s easier to tell Zuck that he’s wrong than to tell the average noob [new] founder. He’s not threatened by it. If he’s wrong, he wants to know.” Paul goes on to say, “What distinguishes great founders is not their adherence to some vision, but their humility in the face of the truth.”
Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg
A Pattern Language, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, c2.com, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Larry Wall, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, Mitch Kapor, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Therac-25, thinkpad, Turing test, VA Linux, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K
There were too many limits on what you could do—on how easily you could manipulate and drag stuff on screen and how quickly data would update in a window. Web-based programs just felt clunky, and clunky was the last word Kapor would ever want anyone to associate with his work. With so many options available, a software project’s choice of programming language often comes down to the arbitrary or the ineffable—a matter of taste or habit or gut sense. Programmer-essayist Paul Graham wrote that some coders favor Python simply because they like the way it looks—and that that’s not such an unreasonable criterion: “When you program, you spend more time reading code than writing it. You push blobs of source code around the way a sculptor does blobs of clay. So a language that makes source code ugly is maddening to an exacting programmer, as clay full of lumps would be to a sculptor.”
one observer’s characterization: The observer is Danny O’Brien in his NTK newsletter from August 6, 2004, at http://www.ntk.net/2004/08/06/. “I spent a few weeks trying”: Benjamin Pierce in a June 2001 message on a private mailing list; full quote confirmed in email to author. “Guido’s time machine”: Eric Raymond’s Jargon File defines it at http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/G/Guido.htm. “When you program, you spend”: Paul Graham, “The Python Paradox,” August 2004, at http://www.paulgraham.com/pypar.htm. Vaporware Hall of Fame: Jon Zilber in MacUser, January 1, 1990. Dan Gillmor’s piece: “Software Idea May Be Just Crazy Enough to Work,” San Jose Mercury News, October 20, 2002. The original Slashdot posting and discussion is at http://slashdot.org/articles/02/10/20/1827210.shtml?tid=99. Complete archives of OSAF’s mailing lists can be accessed at http://www.osafoundation.org/mailing_lists.htm.
Many others shared their ideas and insights informally over lunch, in meeting rooms, or at their desks. I’m grateful, too, to the legions of programmers and technologists who have chosen, over the past decade, to write publicly and candidly about their work online. Their work has made mine possible. Some of those whose writing and blogging I found especially helpful or relevant are Dan Bricklin, Grady Booch, Adam Bosworth, Tim Bray, Geoff Cohen, Paul Ford, Martin Fowler, Paul Graham, David Heinemeyer Hansson, Robert Lefkowitz, Eric Sink, Joel Spolsky, Jon Udell, Dave Winer, and Jeremy Zawodny. Thanks to their work and that of many others, I’m convinced that future decades will look back on our time as a sort of golden age of Renaissance programmer-writers. I also owe a debt of thanks to all my colleagues at Salon.com—in particular, to David Talbot, who gave me the opportunity to pursue this project, and to Joan Walsh, who welcomed me back once it was finished.
The Joy of Clojure by Michael Fogus, Chris Houser
But their artificial Byzantine empires always fall into disrepair or crush themselves into collapse while Lisp, the road that wanders through time, remains simple, elegant, and pure. All we needed to get back on that road was a modern approach, and Rich Hickey has given it to us in Clojure. The Joy of Clojure just might help make Clojure as fun for you as it is for us. STEVE YEGGE GOOGLE steve-yegge.blogspot.com Preface To fully appreciate Clojure, we hearken back to Paul Graham’s essay “Beating the Averages,” an interesting look at the inner workings of his company Viaweb during the years prior to being bought by Yahoo! Inc. in 1998. Though interesting as survey of startup culture, the truly memorable part of the essay was the description of how Viaweb used the programming language Lisp as an advantage over its competition. How could a programming language more than 50 years old provide any market advantage over Viaweb’s competitors, who were surely using modern enterprise technologies?
Clojure macro writers should understand that the proliferation and placement of parentheses are legitimate concerns for some, and as a result you should strive to reduce the number whenever possible. Why would you explicitly group your expressions when their groupings are only a call to partition away? Clojure Aphorism If a project elicits a sense of being lost, then start from the bottom up. DSLs are an important part of a Clojure programmer’s toolset and stem from a long Lisp tradition. When Paul Graham talks about “bottom-up programming” in his perennial work On Lisp, this is what he’s referring to. In Clojure, it’s common practice to start by defining and implementing a low-level language specifically for the levels above. Creating complex software systems is hard, but using this approach, you can build the complicated parts out of smaller, simpler pieces. Clojure changes the way that you think. 13.2.
A much deeper discussion concerning Erlang actors and Clojure agents. Dekorte, Steve. Io. http://iolanguage.com. Fogus, Michael. Lithp. http://github.com/fogus/lithp. Fowler, Martin. 2005. “Fluent Interface.” http://mng.bz/e2r5. _____. 2007. “Mocks Aren’t Stubs.” http://mng.bz/mq95. Graham, Paul. Arc. www.paulgraham.com/arc.html. _____. 2001. “What Made Lisp Different.” www.paulgraham.com/diff.html. As Paul Graham states, “The whole language always available” appears as a theme throughout this book and as a finale in section 13.5. Houser, Chris. error-kit API. http://mng.bz/07FF. The clojure.contrib.error-kit namespace contains an open error system similar to CL conditions that don’t require recompilation when defining new error types. Krukow, Karl. 2009. “Understanding Clojure’s PersistentVector Implementation.” http://mng.bz/tmjv.
Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today's Business While Creating the Future by Scott D. Anthony, Mark W. Johnson
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, blockchain, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, commoditize, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, diversified portfolio, Internet of things, invention of hypertext, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Minecraft, obamacare, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, pez dispenser, recommendation engine, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, the market place, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transfer pricing, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Zipcar
In the 1990s, Innosight cofounder Clayton Christensen published The Innovator’s Dilemma, whose cover proclaims that the book will show readers how “new technologies cause great companies to fail.” The titles grow more ominous over time. In 2013, Dave Ulmer drew on his experience at several large companies to detail The Innovator’s Extinction. His cover blurb? “How natural selection and best intentions will drive your company into the grave.” Another voice is that of Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator, a leading incubator that helped spur Dropbox, Airbnb, and hundreds of other companies. Graham perhaps summed up the zeitgeist best when he said, “Running a startup is like being punched in the face repeatedly, but working for a large company is like being waterboarded.” Coauthor Scott Anthony believed all this when he packed up his family and moved them to Singapore in 2010.
The discipline of testing: Anthony, The First Mile; Steven Gary Blank and Bob Dorf, The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company (Pescadero, CA: K&S Ranch, 2012); Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian C. MacMillan, Discovery-Driven Growth: A Breakthrough Process to Reduce Risk and Seize Opportunity (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2009); Eric Ries, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (New York: Crown Business, 2011). Chapter 4 Paul Graham quote: Startupquote.com, http://startupquote.com/post/10855215114. Medtronic and Plunify case examples: Scott D. Anthony, “The New Corporate Garage,” Harvard Business Review, September 2012. Gilbert’s salesforce decision: Scott D. Antony, “What the Media Industry Can Teach Us About Digital Business Models,” Harvard Business Review Online, June 23, 2015. Rumelt on the Boeing Planner: Richard P.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
"side hustle", Atul Gawande, Cal Newport, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, en.wikipedia.org, financial independence, invisible hand, Lao Tzu, late fees, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Paul Graham, randomized controlled trial, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Saturday Night Live, survivorship bias, Walter Mischel
The veteran manager who is committed to doing things “his way.” The surgeon who dismisses the ideas of her younger colleagues. The band who produces a mind-blowing first album and then gets stuck in a rut. The tighter we cling to an identity, the harder it becomes to grow beyond it. One solution is to avoid making any single aspect of your identity an overwhelming portion of who you are. In the words of investor Paul Graham, “keep your identity small.” The more you let a single belief define you, the less capable you are of adapting when life challenges you. If you tie everything up in being the point guard or the partner at the firm or whatever else, then the loss of that facet of your life will wreck you. If you’re a vegan and then develop a health condition that forces you to change your diet, you’ll have an identity crisis on your hands.
When comedian Chris Rock is preparing fresh material: Peter Sims, “Innovate Like Chris Rock,” Harvard Business Review, January 26, 2009, https://hbr.org/2009/01/innovate-like-chris-rock. Annual Review: I’d like to thank Chris Guillebeau, who inspired me to start my own annual review process by publicly sharing his annual review each year at https://chrisguillebeau.com. “keep your identity small”: Paul Graham, “Keep Your Identity Small,” February 2009, http://www.paulgraham.com/identity.html. CONCLUSION No one can be rich unless one coin can make him or her so: Desiderius Erasmus and Van Loon Hendrik Willem, The Praise of Folly (New York: Black, 1942), 31. Hat tip to Gretchen Rubin. I first read about this parable in her book, Better Than Before, and then tracked down the origin story. For more, see Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before (New York: Hodder, 2016).
Platform Scale: How an Emerging Business Model Helps Startups Build Large Empires With Minimum Investment by Sangeet Paul Choudary
3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, collaborative economy, commoditize, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, frictionless, game design, hive mind, Internet of things, invisible hand, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, multi-sided market, Network effects, new economy, Paul Graham, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, social software, software as a service, software is eating the world, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, TaskRabbit, the payments system, too big to fail, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Wave and Pay
Viral growth is the promise of the networked age and the only form of scale native to the network. It is also the one lever of platform scale available to all businesses, irrespective of whether they are pipes or platforms. 5.1 TRANSITIONING TO PLATFORM SCALE From Bumps To Engines “A startup is a company designed to grow fast… The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.” – Paul Graham Paul Graham differentiates between startups and new businesses in one particular parameter, the potential for scale. A startup’s potential to achieve hyper-growth and rapid scale is largely dependent on the types of growth strategies it implements. Before we embark on the journey of understanding the elements that contribute to virality, it is important to contrast viral growth with the way we have traditionally seen growth in a data-poor, non-participative world of pipes.
The Personal MBA: A World-Class Business Education in a Single Volume by Josh Kaufman
Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, business cycle, business process, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Heinemeier Hansson, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dean Kamen, delayed gratification, discounted cash flows, Donald Knuth, double entry bookkeeping, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Santayana, Gödel, Escher, Bach, high net worth, hindsight bias, index card, inventory management, iterative process, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, lateral thinking, loose coupling, loss aversion, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, Network effects, Parkinson's law, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, place-making, premature optimization, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, side project, statistical model, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, subscription business, telemarketer, the scientific method, time value of money, Toyota Production System, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, Y Combinator, Yogi Berra
There are many great resources in the world of business literature that can deepen your understanding if you’d like to learn more about a particular mental model. Join me at personalmba.com to explore these ideas in more detail and learn how to apply them to your daily life and work. Let’s begin. 2 VALUE CREATION Make something people want . . . There’s nothing more valuable than an unmet need that is just becoming fixable. If you find something broken that you can fix for a lot of people, you’ve found a gold mine. —PAUL GRAHAM, FOUNDER OF Y COMBINATOR, VENTURE CAPITALIST, AND ESSAYIST AT PAULGRAHAM.COM Every successful business creates something of value. The world is full of opportunities to make other people’s lives better in some way, and your job as a businessperson is to identify things that people don’t have enough of, then find a way to provide them. The value you create can take on one of several different forms, but the purpose is always the same: to make someone else’s life a little bit better.
Your business does not have to bring in millions or billions of dollars to be successful. If you have enough profit to do the things you need to do to keep the business running and make it worth your time, you’re successful, no matter how much revenue your business brings in. Sufficiency is the point where a business is bringing in enough profit that the people who are running the business find it worthwhile to keep going for the foreseeable future. Paul Graham, venture capitalist and founder of Y Combinator (an early-stage venture capital firm), calls the point of sufficiency “ramen profitable”—being profitable enough to pay your rent, keep the utilities running, and buy inexpensive food like ramen noodles. You may not be raking in millions of dollars, but you have enough revenue to keep building your venture without going under. You can’t create value if you can’t pay the bills.
I typically focus on writing for a few uninterrupted hours in the morning, then batch my calls and meetings in the afternoon. As a result, I can focus on both responsibilities with my full Attention. I use a similar strategy when doing chores, updating financial reports, or running errands: I’ll dedicate a few hours solely to finishing those tasks. As a result, I accomplish everything I need to do in very little time. Paul Graham, a venture capitalist, programmer, and essayist, calls this batching strategy “Maker’s Schedule/Manager’s Schedule.”4 If you’re trying to create something, the worst thing you can possibly do is to try to fit creative tasks in between administrative tasks—context switching will kill your productivity. The “Maker’s Schedule” consists of large blocks of uninterrupted time; the “Manager’s Schedule” is broken up into many small chunks for meetings.
Clojure Programming by Chas Emerick, Brian Carper, Christophe Grand
Amazon Web Services, Benoit Mandelbrot, cloud computing, continuous integration, database schema, domain-specific language, don't repeat yourself, en.wikipedia.org, failed state, finite state, Firefox, game design, general-purpose programming language, Guido van Rossum, Larry Wall, mandelbrot fractal, Paul Graham, platform as a service, premature optimization, random walk, Ruby on Rails, Schrödinger's Cat, semantic web, software as a service, sorting algorithm, Turing complete, type inference, web application
A hallmark of object-oriented programming, they provide a common vocabulary that many in the Java and Ruby worlds are familiar with. On the other hand, patterns can be a source of verbosity and boilerplate. To this point, Paul Graham observed that the existence and use of design patterns in a language are indicative of a weakness in the language itself, rather than a consequence of solving the problem at hand: When I see patterns in my programs, I consider it a sign of trouble. The shape of a program should reflect only the problem it needs to solve. Any other regularity in the code is a sign, to me at least, that I’m using abstractions that aren’t powerful enough… —Paul Graham, http://www.paulgraham.com/icad.html Graham was hardly the first to make this observation; Peter Norvig demonstrated some time ago (http://www.norvig.com/design-patterns/) that Lisps in particular either simplify or make invisible most design patterns.
You should never need to use these special forms, as there’s a macro, locking, that ensures proper acquisition and release of an object’s monitor. See Locking for details. * * *  Special forms are always given precedence when resolving symbols in function position. For example, you can have a var or local named def, but you will not be able to refer to the value of that var or local in function position—though you can refer to that value anywhere else.  Paul Graham’s The Roots of Lisp (http://www.paulgraham.com/rootsoflisp.html) is a brief yet approachable precis of the fundamental operations of computation, as originally discovered and enumerated by John McCarthy. Though that characterization of computation was made more than 50 years ago, you can see it thriving in Clojure today.  If you were to open the core.clj file from Clojure’s source repository, you will see this bootstrapping in action: everything from when and or to defn and = is defined in Clojure itself.
However, just as Java was not a Lisp just because the JVM’s designers borrowed a raft of techniques and features from Lisp systems, languages that borrow capabilities and features from Clojure today are not equivalent to Clojure. If you start using Clojure now, you may give yourself the opportunity to have an unfair advantage for years to come. * * *  We would be remiss at this point if we did not reference Paul Graham’s Beating the Averages essay, which is very relevant to this point: http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html. Emphasize Community Clojure is open source and welcomes contributors. Clojure is open source under a liberal-use license, making it perfect for inclusion in commercial products and for use within commercial organizations (of course in addition to any noncommercial, charitable, or personal use).
Successful Lisp - About by Unknown
Still want more? Engraver has the slickest software update mechanism you'll find anywhere: select the Check For Patches menu item and Engraver will connect to the Noteheads server, download any patches it needs, and upgrade itself all in a few tens of seconds, without interrupting work in progress. Yahoo Store Yahoo Store is one of the best high-profile Lisp success stories of the past few years. Paul Graham and his team, working out of an attic loft, built and operated a server-side e-commerce site builder for hundreds of customers using Common Lisp and generic Linux servers. Paul's venture was so successful that it drew the attention of Yahoo, who saw it as a better tool for their online stores. Paul sold his company to Yahoo for $49 million. An interesting aside is that Paul hired a couple dozen extra programmers during Yahoo's due diligence investigations, since "no one would believe that three guys in a loft" could have done what Paul's team accomplished with the help of Lisp.
We don't even have to do a hash lookup at runtime, because the macro expander has captured the free variable TABLE from the MULTIPLE-VALUE-BIND form in LOOKUP-SIN. Beyond the obvious, part 2: macros that define macros Macros that define macros are used infrequently, partly because it's hard to think of a good use for this technique and partly because it's difficult to get right. The following macro, based upon an example in Paul Graham's "On Lisp" book, can be used to define synonyms for the names of Lisp functions, macros, and special forms. ? (defmacro defsynonym (old-name new-name) "Define OLD-NAME to be equivalent to NEW-NAME when used in the first position of a Lisp form." `(defmacro ,new-name (&rest args) `(,',old-name ,@args))) DEFSYNONYM ? (defsynonym make-pair cons) MAKE-PAIR ? (make-pair 'a 'b) (A . B) Macros are always a little bit dangerous because code containing a macro call does not automatically get updated if you change the definition of the macro.
The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Ben Horowitz, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, Joan Didion, Kenneth Arrow, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, uber lyft, ultimatum game, Y Combinator
So I guess my view is if you want to fund something truly disruptive, you’d be better off making ten $500,000 whacky bets than one $5 million less-risky bet.” He is not implying that large funds typically put all their eggs in one basket—all VCs hold a portfolio of companies—only that large investments tend to make you more cautious, which means that your portfolio will be less likely to yield exceptional returns. “Larger firms with more partners that invest more money per deal are always going to be more risk-averse,” Maples says. Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator and likewise a believer in investing at the seed stage, put it more bluntly in his essay “A Theory of VC Suckage.” Each deal is for several million dollars, Graham argues, because management fees give firms an incentive to build up large funds. That, Graham writes, “explains why VCs take so agonizingly long to make up their minds, and why their due diligence feels like a body cavity search.
See Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold, “Seed Capital from Angel Investors: Mike Maples, Founder and Managing Partner, Floodgate (Part 3),” One Million by One Million Blog, July 14, 2010, retrieved from http://www.sramanamitra.com/2010/07/14/seed-capital-from-angel-investors-mike-maples-founder-and-managing-partner-floodgate-part-3/. 26.Interview with Mike Maples Jr., September 17, 2014. 27.Paul Graham, “A Unified Theory of VC Suckage,” PaulGraham.com, March 2005, retrieved from http://www.paulgraham.com/venturecapital.html. 28.Russ Roberts, “Marc Andreessen on Venture Capital and the Digital Future,” EconTalk, May 19, 2014, retrieved from http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2014/05/marc_andreessen.html. 29.Ben Horowitz mentions Rachleff’s influence in an interview with Stanford engineering professor Tom Byers, “Disrupting the Venture Capital Industry,” Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series, November 19, 2014, retrieved from http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMate rialInfo.html?
ANSI Common LISP by Paul Graham
ANSI Common Lisp UW§ PRENTICE HALL SERIES IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig, Editors GRAHAM MUGGLETON RUSSELL & NORVIG ANSI Common Lisp Logical Foundations of Machine Learning Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach ANSI Common Lisp Paul Graham An Alan R. Apt Book Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Graham, Paul. ANSI common lisp. / Paul Graham. p. cm. "An Alan R. Apt book." Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-13-370875-6 1. COMMON LISP (Computer program language) I. Tide. QA76.73.C28G69 1996 005.13'3-dc20 95-45017 CIP Publisher: Alan Apt Production Editor: Mona Pompili Cover Designer: Gino Lee Copy Editor: Shirley Michaels Production Coordinator: Donna Sullivan Editorial Assistant: Shirley McGuire Cover Photo: Ed Lynch •m © 1996 by Prentice Hall, Inc.
But the architect's aim is not simply to make a building that doesn't fall down. Almost always the real aim is to make something beautiful. Many programmers feel, like Donald Knuth, that this is also the real aim of programming. Almost all Lisp hackers do. The spirit of Lisp hacking can be expressed in two sentences. Programming should be fun. Programs should be beautiful. That's the spirit I have tried to convey in this book. Paul Graham Contents 1. Introduction 1.1. 1.2. 1.3. 1 New Tools 1 New Techniques 3 A New Approach 4 2. Welcome to Lisp 2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. 2.5. 2.6. 2.7. 2.8. 2.9. 2.10. 2.11. 2.12. 2.13. 2.14. 2.15. 2.16. 7 Form 7 Evaluation 9 Data 10 List Operations 12 Truth 13 Functions 14 Recursion 16 Reading Lisp 17 Input and Output 18 Variables 19 Assignment 21 Functional Programming 22 Iteration 23 Functions as Objects 25 Types 27 Looking Forward 27 3.
Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 4chan, 8-hour work day, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Brewster Kahle, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, call centre, cellular automata, Chelsea Manning, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, don't repeat yourself, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, HyperCard, illegal immigration, ImageNet competition, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, lone genius, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, microservices, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Nicholas Carr, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, planetary scale, profit motive, ransomware, recommendation engine, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, sorting algorithm, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, the High Line, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zimmermann PGP, éminence grise
break his concentration: Lauren Passell, “Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers,” B&N Reads (blog), March 22, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/stephen-kings-top-20-rules-for-writers. “his floating hair”: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan, Poetry Foundation, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43991/kubla-khan. “to kill them off”: Paul Graham, “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule,” Paul Graham (blog), July 2009, accessed August 18, 2018, http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html. self-medicates with morphine: Matt Giles, “ ‘Mr. Robot’ Creator Explains What’s Really Going on in Elliot’s Mind,” Popular Science, September 3, 2015, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.popsci.com/mr-robot-creator-explains-whats-really-going-on-in-elliots-mind. CHAPTER 5: THE CULT OF EFFICIENCY invented bifocal glasses: Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 426.
But after three weeks of painstakingly reprogramming her habits, it clicked—and suddenly she felt a cyborgic level of oneness with the machine, a sort of “I know kung fu” moment reminiscent of The Matrix. “You’re one with the keyboard,” she marvels. “There’s no moment when I have to break away from my train of thought.” Coders are white-collar workers, but the need for deep immersion and concentration puts them at sharp odds with most white-collar rhythms. Paul Graham refers to it as the collision between the “maker’s schedule” and the “manager’s schedule.” The work of managers, he points out, is composed almost entirely of meetings. Managers’ jobs are to make sure things are going well, so they block out their day in one-hour increments, meeting with a different employee every hour. So they think nothing of asking a coder to come in at 1:00 p.m. and have a check-in meeting.
More Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky
a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, barriers to entry, Black Swan, Build a better mousetrap, business process, call centre, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, failed state, Firefox, fixed income, George Gilder, Larry Wall, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Mars Rover, Network effects, Paul Graham, performance metric, place-making, price discrimination, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Oldenburg, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Superbowl ad, The Great Good Place, type inference, unpaid internship, wage slave, web application, Y Combinator
I used to be able to tell the smart kids because they could rip through a recursive algorithm in seconds, or implement linked-list manipulation functions using pointers as fast as they could write on the whiteboard. But with a JavaSchool grad, I can’t tell whether they’re struggling with these problems because they are undereducated or because they don’t actually have that special part of the brain that they’re going to need to do great programming work. Paul Graham calls them “Blub programmers” (www.paulgraham.com/avg.html). The Perils of JavaSchools 57 It’s bad enough that JavaSchools fail to weed out the kids who are never going to be great programmers, which the schools could justifiably say is not their problem. Industry or, at least, the recruiters-who-usegrep are surely clamoring for Java to be taught. But JavaSchools also fail to train the brains of kids to be adept, agile, and flexible enough to do good software design (and I don’t mean object-oriented “design,” where you spend countless hours rewriting your code to rejiggle your object hierarchy, or you fret about faux “problems” like “has-a” vs.
The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo
Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, defense in depth, Deng Xiaoping, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Firefox, Google Chrome, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, market bubble, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, packet switching, Paul Graham, price stability, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Vernor Vinge, zero day
The networks will be used in ways their designers never imagined—Twitter turned to terror recruitment, Bitcoin as an alternative to central banks. But Conway’s insight retains all its original power: The physical world can be reshaped by the virtual. Networks will create bumps in the surface of our everyday lives. “When you decide what infrastructure to use for a project, you’re not just making a technical decision,” the programmer and investor Paul Graham has written. “You’re also making a social decision, and this may be the more important of the two.” You might ask: What drew tens of millions of people to watch as Steve Jobs, live, unveiled some new Apple device? Of course, partly it was the cool technology, the warm charisma of the man. But something else was at work, I think. What Jobs was unveiling atop those black stages over the years as we waited for him was nothing less than whole new worlds, connected landscapes that emerged entirely from ideas Apple was secretly developing.
., “Human-Data Interaction: The Human Face of the Data-Driven Society,” Social Science Research Network (October 1, 2014). Engineers know the idea: Melvin E. Conway, “How Do Committees Invent?” Datamation 14, no. 4 (April 1968): 28–31. In our connected age: Barbara van Schewick, “Foundations,” in Internet Architecture and Innovation (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010), 19–36. “When you decide what infrastructure to use”: Paul Graham, “Great Hackers” (July 2004), on paulgraham.com, http://www.paulgraham.com/gh.html. “Contrary to the popular belief”: Karl A. Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957). “Is there a greater tragedy”: F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (London: Routledge Classics, 2001), 5. Churchill’s famous line: Winston Churchill, speech to House of Commons, November 11, 1947, at http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1947/nov/11/parliament-bill.
ClojureScript: Up and Running by Stuart Sierra, Luke Vanderhart
Summary Macros are an extremely powerful language tool, so powerful that they are rarely needed in everyday programming. However, for advanced tasks, such as defining new control structures or embedding domain-specific languages, they can be invaluable. This chapter has barely scratched the surface of what macros can do. For more examples, refer to books about Clojure. For even deeper exploration of macros, look to books on Common Lisp, such as Paul Graham’s classic On Lisp, available free online. Note that most other Lisps use the comma character instead of tilde for unquote. * * *  Technically, you can prevent evaluation of function arguments by wrapping each argument in an anonymous function, but this is syntactically cumbersome. Chapter 9. Development Process and Workflow At the beginning of the book, we introduced Leiningen with lein-cljsbuild as an easy way to get started with ClojureScript.
The Acquirer's Multiple: How the Billionaire Contrarians of Deep Value Beat the Market by Tobias E. Carlisle
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, business cycle, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate raider, Jeff Bezos, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Richard Thaler, shareholder value, Tim Cook: Apple
Schwager’s Market Wizards (1989), he said: I learned that even though markets look their very best when they are setting new highs, that is often the best time to sell. To some extent, to be a good trader, you have to be a contrarian. Paul Tudor Jones zigs when the market zags. Billionaire investor Peter Thiele draws this diagram to describe the “sweet spot” for his chosen stocks: Sweet Spot: A Good Idea That Seems Like a Bad Idea Source: Paul Graham, “Black Swan Farming,” September 2012, Available at http://www.paulgraham.com/swan.html Thiele’s “sweet spot” is a good idea that seems like a bad idea to the crowd. But Thiele thinks it might be a good idea. Thiele’s zigging while the crowd zags. Billionaire global macroinvestor Michael Steinhardt made his investors about five-hundred times their money over thirty years until 1995. In his autobiography, Steinhardt described how he told an intern what he looked for:5 I told him that ideally he should be able to tell me, in two minutes, four things: (1) the idea; (2) the consensus view; (3) his variant perception; and (4) a trigger event.
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Atul Gawande, Checklist Manifesto, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, Exxon Valdez, Flynn Effect, Freestyle chess, functional fixedness, game design, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Netflix Prize, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, precision agriculture, prediction markets, premature optimization, pre–internet, random walk, randomized controlled trial, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Silicon Valley, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Walter Mischel, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, young professional
,” their work indicated that it is better to be a scientist of yourself, asking smaller questions that can actually be tested—“Which among my various possible selves should I start to explore now? How can I do that?” Be a flirt with your possible selves.* Rather than a grand plan, find experiments that can be undertaken quickly. “Test-and-learn,” Ibarra told me, “not plan-and-implement.” Paul Graham, computer scientist and cofounder of Y Combinator—the start-up funder of Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, and Twitch—encapsulated Ibarra’s tenets in a high school graduation speech he wrote, but never delivered: It might seem that nothing would be easier than deciding what you like, but it turns out to be hard, partly because it’s hard to get an accurate picture of most jobs. . . . Most of the work I’ve done in the last ten years didn’t exist when I was in high school. . . .
a replication of the marshmallow test: T. W. Watts et al., “Revisiting the Marshmallow Test,” Psychological Science 29, no. 7 (2018): 1159–77. Ibarra began; “We discover the possibilities”: H. Ibarra, Working Identity (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2003). “painless path to a new career”: P. Capell, “Taking the Painless Path to a New Career,” Wall Street Journal Europe, January 2, 2002. Paul Graham . . . high school graduation speech: “What You’ll Wish You’d Known,” www.paulgraham.com/hs.html. William Wallace showed: W. Wallace, “Michelangelo: Separating Theory and Practice,” in Imitation, Representation and Printing in the Italian Renaissance, ed. R. Eriksen and M. Malmanger (Pisa and Rome: Fabrizio Serra Editore, 2009). grew to dislike painting; half . . . left unfinished: The Complete Poems of Michelangelo, trans.
Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire by Bruce Nussbaum
3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, declining real wages, demographic dividend, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, follow your passion, game design, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, industrial robot, invisible hand, James Dyson, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Gruber, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, lone genius, longitudinal study, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, new economy, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, QR code, race to the bottom, reshoring, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, Tesla Model S, The Chicago School, The Design of Experiments, the High Line, The Myth of the Rational Market, thinkpad, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, tulip mania, We are the 99%, Y Combinator, young professional, Zipcar
It’s perhaps no accident then that Montessori alums include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Sims video game creator Will Wright, and rap mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Other entrepreneurs with educational backgrounds in art, design, and music where play is intrinsic to learning have founded a whole slew of new companies, including Kickstarter, Tumblr, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Vimeo, Android, and, of course, Apple. And the list goes on and on: Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator, one of the top incubators for new start-ups in Silicon Valley, studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, in addition to getting his PhD in computer science from Harvard. Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter and Xanga, says he learned a valuable lesson studying graphic design. “Being playful, less structured, less hierarchical . . .,” he said as an example of what he might offer to MBA students at the Berkeley Haas School of Business before he became an advisor there.
id=309165&page=1#.UEu57q60J8E. 121 “We both went to Montessori School”: ABC News, “A Fascinating Group.” 121 Montessori alums include: Peter Sims, “The Montessori Mafia,” Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2011, accessed September 13, 2012, http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2011/04/05/the-montessori-mafia/. 121 Other entrepreneurs with educational backgrounds: “Google Logo, Founders Spell Success: Montessori,” http://HispanicBusiness.com, August 31, 2012, accessed September 13, 2012, http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/2012/8/31/ google_logo_founders_spell_success_montessori.htm. 121 Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator: Randall Stross, The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups (New York: Portfolio, 2012); http://paulgra ham.com/bio.html. 121 Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter: http://CMO.com, “Twitter Creator Biz Stone Chats with Adobe CMO Lewnes at Digital Summit 2012, http://m.cmo.com/leadership/ twitter-creator-biz-stone-chats-adobe-cmo-lewnes-digital-summit-2012, accessed September 13, 2012. 121 “Being playful, less structured”: Melissa Korn and Amir Efrati, “Master of ’Biz’ Returns to School,” Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2011, accessed September 13, 2012, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405311190 4009304576533010574207444.html?
Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky
AltaVista, barriers to entry, c2.com, commoditize, George Gilder, index card, Jeff Bezos, knowledge worker, Metcalfe's law, Mitch Kapor, Network effects, new economy, PageRank, Paul Graham, profit motive, Robert X Cringely, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, slashdot, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, thinkpad, VA Linux, web application
Instead of Win32, we are told, we should now start getting ready for WinFX: the next generation Windows API.6 All different. Based on .NET with managed code. XAML. Avalon. Yes, vastly superior to Win32, I admit it. But not an upgrade: a break with the past. Outside developers, who were never particularly happy with the complexity of Windows development, have defected from the Microsoft platform en masse and are now developing for the Web. Paul Graham, who created Yahoo! Stores in the early days of the dotcom boom, summarized it eloquently: "There is all the more reason for startups to write Web-based software now, because writing desktop software has become a lot less fun. If you want to write desktop software now you do it on Microsoft's terms, calling their APIs and working around their buggy OS. And if you manage to write something that takes off, you may find that you were merely doing market research for Microsoft."7 Microsoft got big enough, with too many developers, and they were too addicted to upgrade revenues, so they suddenly decided that reinventing everything was not too big a project.
For example, WinFS, advertised as a way to make searching work by making the file system be a relational database, ignores the fact that the real way to make searching work is by making searching work.8 Don't make me type metadata for all my files that I can search using a query language. Just do me a favor and search the damned hard drive, quickly, for the string I typed, using full-text indexes and other technologies that were boring in 1973. __________ 6. Mark Driver, "Microsoft WinFX Accelerates Need for .NET Adoption," Gartner Research, November 3, 2003. See www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?doc_cd=118261. 7. Paul Graham, "The Other Road Ahead," September 2001. See www.paulgraham.com/road.html. Automatic Transmissions Win the Day Don't get me wrong; I think .NET is a great development environment, and Avalon with XAML is a tremendous advance over the old way of writing GUI apps for Windows. The biggest advantage of .NET is the fact that it has automatic memory management. A lot of us thought in the 1990s that the big battle would be between procedural and object-oriented programming, and we thought that object-oriented programming would provide a big boost in programmer productivity.
On Lisp: Advanced Techniques for Common Lisp by Paul Graham
On Lisp by Paul Graham * * * Table of Content Preface The Extensible Language Design by Evolution Programming Bottom-Up Extensible Software Extending Lisp Why Lisp (or When) Functions Functions as Data Defining Functions Functional Arguments Functions as Properties Scope Closures Local Functions Tail-Recursion Compilation Functions from Lists Functional Programming Functional Design Imperative Outside-In Functional Interfaces Interactive Programming Utility Functions Birth of a Utility Invest in Abstraction Operations on Lists Search Mapping I/O Symbols and Strings Density Returning Functions Common Lisp Evolves Orthogonality Memoizing Composing Functions Recursion on Cdrs Recursion on Subtrees When to Build Functions Functions as Representation Networks Compiling Networks Looking Forward Macros How Macros Work Backquote Defining Simple Macros Testing Macroexpansion Destructuring in Parameter Lists A Model of Macros Macros as Programs Macro Style Dependence on Macros Macros from Functions Symbol Macros When to Use Macros When Nothing Else Will Do Macro or Function?
Most of all, I'd like to thank my parents, for their example and encouragement; and Jackie, who taught me what I might have learned if I had listened to them. I hope reading this book will be fun. Of all the languages I know, I like Lisp the best, simply because it's the most beautiful. This book is about Lisp at its lispiest. I had fun writing it, and I hope that comes through in the text. Paul Graham * * * 1. The Extensible Language Not long ago, if you asked what Lisp was for, many people would have answered "for artificial intelligence." In fact, the association between Lisp and AI is just an accident of history. Lisp was invented by John McCarthy, who also invented the term "artificial intelligence." His students and colleagues wrote their programs in Lisp, and so it began to be spoken of as an AI language.
Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg, Lauren McCann
affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-pattern, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business process, butterfly effect, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, lateral thinking, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, mail merge, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, Potemkin village, prediction markets, premature optimization, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, publication bias, recommendation engine, remote working, replication crisis, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Shai Danziger, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, survivorship bias, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, uber lyft, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons
Extra mental overhead is also required to keep track of multiple activities at once. Therefore, you should try to avoid multitasking on any consequential activity. Focusing on one high-concentration activity at a time can also help you produce dramatically better results. That’s because the best results rely on creative solutions, which often come from concentrating intently on one thing. Startup investor Paul Graham calls it the top idea in your mind in his 2010 essay of the same name: Everyone who’s worked on difficult problems is probably familiar with the phenomenon of working hard to figure something out, failing, and then suddenly seeing the answer a bit later while doing something else. There’s a kind of thinking you do without trying to. I’m increasingly convinced this type of thinking is not merely helpful in solving hard problems, but necessary.
As Wilson notes, culture is one of the key ways to attract and retain loyalists, which should be the goal if you’re seeking 10x teams for the long term. When working to craft a positive organizational culture, there are a few tactical models to keep in mind as well. First, you can show employees that you value their contributions by understanding that people in different positions need different kinds of support to make progress on challenging efforts. Consider what startup investor Paul Graham, in a July 2009 blog post, called the manager’s schedule versus maker’s schedule: The manager’s schedule is for bosses. It’s embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one-hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you’re doing every hour. . . . But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, such as programmers and writers.
Your Money: The Missing Manual by J.D. Roth
Airbnb, asset allocation, bank run, buy and hold, buy low sell high, car-free, Community Supported Agriculture, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, estate planning, Firefox, fixed income, full employment, hedonic treadmill, Home mortgage interest deduction, index card, index fund, late fees, mortgage tax deduction, Own Your Own Home, passive investing, Paul Graham, random walk, Richard Bolles, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, speech recognition, stocks for the long run, traveling salesman, Vanguard fund, web application, Zipcar
Wishpot (www.wishpot.com) lets you save all the things you're shopping for online in a wish list or registry. This keeps you from buying impulsively and creates a place for your friends and family to go to see what sorts of gifts you might want. The Tyranny of Stuff There's one huge way to save money that few people talk about: Own less Stuff. In his brilliant essay entitled "Stuff" (www.paulgraham.com/stuff.html), Paul Graham writes that before you buy anything, you should ask yourself, "Will this be something I use constantly?" Graham used to pick up free Stuff from the side of the road. He'd buy something at a garage sale simply because he could get it for a tenth of what it cost new. Eventually he realized that nothing is a bargain if it just sits in the garage or a storage unit. Things only have value if you use them.
This section offers pointers on how to do just that. For Love or Money: Which Career Should You Choose? Before you can start down a career path, you have to decide what to do for a living. Should you pursue your passion, doing work you love regardless of how much you earn? Or should you focus simply on the money? In his essay on how to do what you love (www.paulgraham.com/love.html), Paul Graham writes: Finding work you love is very difficult. Most people fail. Even if you succeed, it's rare to be free to work on what you want till your thirties or forties. But if you have the destination in sight you'll be more likely to arrive at it. If you know you can love work, you're in the home stretch, and if you know what work you love, you're practically there. Some folks claim that if you do what you love, the money will follow.
Intertwingled: Information Changes Everything by Peter Morville
A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, augmented reality, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, business process, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, disruptive innovation, index card, information retrieval, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Lean Startup, Lyft, minimum viable product, Mother of all demos, Nelson Mandela, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, RFID, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, source of truth, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, uber lyft, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, zero-sum game
It’s a tiny habit called “don’t touch my pencil” that makes a big impact. The other part I recall is the artwork. I remember a colorful drawing of animals in three categories – real, imaginary, impossible – and being inspired by the freedom with which kids invent impossible creatures. Over time, lest we’re careful, our bodyminds grow inflexible. We imagine the impossible less and less until we can’t. Paul Graham says entrepreneurs must be cheeky, always believing there’s a better way. Similarly, information architects must be contrarians, always re-framing ideas and beliefs in a different way. Of course, Richard Saul Wurman, the infamous architect of “information architect” would beg to disagree. I rather worship the space between things, the silence between good friends, the time between the notes of music, the break time during a conference, the space between buildings, negative space…It’s the way I approach everything.
Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling
8-hour work day, en.wikipedia.org, inventory management, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, Network effects, Paul Graham, rolodex, side project, Silicon Valley, software as a service, Superbowl ad, web application
Steve Blank (steveblank.com) – Steve Blank is a Silicon Valley veteran, but many of his insights apply to self-funded startups. Lessons Learned (www.startuplessonslearned.com) – Eric Ries’ Lean Startup Methodology closely parallels the Micropreneur Methodology I’ve laid out in this book, and his knowledge of the startup process is unparalleled. Single Founder (www.singlefounder.com) – Mike Taber shares his insight and wisdom from 10 years in the entrepreneurial trenches. Paul Graham (www.paulgraham.com/articles.html) – Though venture-focused, Graham’s insights into the startup process are unique and powerful. Software by Rob (www.softwarebyrob.com) – My blog, where I talk about all things self-funded. Online Communities The Micropreneur Academy (www.micropreneur.com) – A paid membership community of bootstrappers and Micropreneurs, brought together to learn, be accountable, share community, and launch successful startups.
Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Burning Man, delayed gratification, Google Glasses, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Lao Tzu, Paul Graham, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, side project, South Sea Bubble, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, Upton Sinclair
A few years ago, one of the founders of Google gave a talk in which he said that the way he judges prospective companies and entrepreneurs is by asking them “if they’re going to change the world.” Which is fine, except that’s not how Google started. (Larry Page and Sergey Brin were two Stanford PhDs working on their dissertations.) It’s not how YouTube started. (Its founders weren’t trying to reinvent TV; they were trying to share funny video clips.) It’s not how most true wealth was created, in fact. Investor Paul Graham (who invested in Airbnb, reddit, Dropbox, and others), working in the same city as Walsh a few decades later, explicitly warns startups against having bold, sweeping visions early on. Of course, as a capitalist, he wants to fund companies that massively disrupt industries and change the world—that’s where the money is. He wants them to have “frighteningly ambitious” ideas, but explains, “The way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things.”
The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel
"side hustle", airport security, Amazon Web Services, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, computer age, coronavirus, discounted cash flows, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, financial independence, Hans Rosling, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Paul Graham, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, stocks for the long run, the scientific method, traffic fines, Vanguard fund, working-age population
Harper’s Magazine noted in 1957: The rich man smokes the same sort of cigarettes as the poor man, shaves with the same sort of razor, uses the same sort of telephone, vacuum cleaner, radio, and TV set, has the same sort of lighting and heating equipment in his house, and so on indefinitely. The differences between his automobile and the poor man’s are minor. Essentially they have similar engines, similar fittings. In the early years of the century there was a hierarchy of automobiles. Paul Graham wrote in 2016 about what something as simple as there only being three TV stations did to equalize culture: It’s difficult to imagine now, but every night tens of millions of families would sit down together in front of their TV set watching the same show, at the same time, as their next door neighbors. What happens now with the Super Bowl used to happen every night. We were literally in sync.⁷⁵ This was important.
To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov
3D printing, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Automated Insights, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive bias, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, disintermediation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, future of journalism, game design, Gary Taubes, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of the printing press, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, lifelogging, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, moral panic, Narrative Science, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, packet switching, PageRank, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, pets.com, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart meter, social graph, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks
It’s the same notion of “the Internet” that popular technology blogger and author Jeff Jarvis invokes when, discussing Germans’ complex feelings about privacy, he writes of a “nagging fear Germans harbor that their heritage is coming into fundamental conflict with internet culture—with the future.” All these thinkers take “the Internet” to be fixed and unified, meaningful and didactic, powerful and unconquerable. And, as Jarvis puts it, it’s “the future.” In a similar vein, popular technology investor Paul Graham writes, “Web 2.0 means using the Web the way it’s meant to be used. The ‘trends’ we’re seeing now are simply the inherent nature of the Web emerging from under the broken models that got imposed during the Battle.” “The Internet,” thus, is believed to possess an inherent nature, a logic, a teleology, and that nature is rapidly unfolding in front of us. We can just stand back and watch; “the Internet” will take care of itself—and us.
(New York: Free Press, 2006). 23 “policymakers should work with the grain of the Internet”: Eric Schmidt, “Let Luvvie Embrace Boffin in the Digital Future,” The Guardian, August 26, 2011. 23 “without a major upgrade”: Rebecca MacKinnon, “Why Doesn’t Washington Understand the Internet?,” Washington Post, January 22, 2012. 23 “nagging fear Germans harbor”: Jeff Jarvis, Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011). 24 “Web 2.0 means using the Web”: Paul Graham, “Web 2.0,” PaulGraham.com, November 2005, http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html. 24 “There are laws of Nature”: David Post, In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 211. 25 it’s not “the solution to the problem”: Steven Johnson, Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age (New York: Penguin, 2012), xxxv. 25 “one could use the Internet directly”: ibid., xxxv, 26 “the creation of ARPANET and TCP/IP”: ibid., 16. 26 “Slowly but steadily”: ibid., 18. 26 “The question with Kickstarter”: ibid., 43. 27 Kickstarter’s most famous failed alumnus is Diaspora: see Jenna Wortham, “Success of Crowdfunding Puts Pressure on Entrepreneurs,” New York Times, September 17, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/technology/success-of-crowdfunding-puts-pressure-on-entrepreneurs.html. 28 Inge Ejbye Sørensen has studied how crowdfunding: see Inge Ejbye Sørensen, “Crowd-sourcing and Outsourcing: The Impact of Online Funding and Distribution on the Documentary Film Industry in the UK,” Media, Culture & Society 34 no. 6 (September 2012): 726–743; I’ve written about Sørensen’s research in my Slate column, from which the following few paragraphs are drawn: see Evgeny Morozov, “Kickstarter Will Not Save Artists from the Entertainment Industry’s Shackles,” Slate, September 25, 2012http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/09/kickstarter_s_crowdfunding_won_t_save_indie_filmmaking_.single.html . 29 What Would Google Do?
Effective Programming: More Than Writing Code by Jeff Atwood
AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, cloud computing, endowment effect, Firefox, future of work, game design, Google Chrome, gravity well, job satisfaction, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, loss aversion, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Merlin Mann, Minecraft, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, price anchoring, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, science of happiness, Skype, social software, Steve Jobs, web application, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
It’s a huge win if there’s one thing in a post. Heck, it’s a huge win if we read one hundred posts and learn one new valuable thing. If you’re looking for good programming blogs to sharpen your saw (or at least pique your intellectual curiosity), I know of two excellent programming specific link aggregation sites that can help you find them. The first is Hacker News, which I recommend highly. Hacker News is the brainchild of Paul Graham, so it partially reflects his interests in Y Combinator and entrepreneurial stuff like startups. Paul is serious about moderation on the site, so in addition to the typical Digg-style voting, there’s a secret cabal (I like to think of it as The Octagon, “no one will admit they still exist!”) of hand-picked editors who remove flagged posts. More importantly, the conversation on the site about the articles is quite rational, with very little noise and trolling.
What's Yours Is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy by Tom Slee
4chan, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, citizen journalism, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, David Brooks, don't be evil, gig economy, Hacker Ethic, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South of Market, San Francisco, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ultimatum game, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, Zipcar
They bought some inflatable airbeds and offered accommodations to attendees who would be interested in a cheap place to stay. They were inundated with requests and realized there may be a market for this kind of thing, and so “Airbed and Breakfast” was born. Since then, the story has been one of hard work and growth. Running up the limit on multiple credit cards to finance the very beginnings, they got an early investment from Paul Graham’s Y-Combinator fund. Struggling to get the site to take off, they went out to their biggest city (New York) and got the hosts to have professional photos taken of their rooms to make them more appealing; the bookings increased, and professional photography continues to be the most effective way for a host to attract guests. Other maneuvers included a breakfast-cereal pitch around the Democratic convention in Chicago and a widely criticized email campaign via Craigslist.
Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin
1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transfer pricing, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator
As Ben Tarnoff, writing in the Guardian noted, one of the reasons Peter Thiel was drawn to Donald Trump’s authoritarian candidacy was that “he would discipline what Thiel calls ‘the unthinking demos’: the democratic public that constrains capitalism.” But for now there are few constraints on Tech capitalism. The monopoly profits of this new era have been very, very good to a few men. The Forbes 400 list, which ranks American wealth, places Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg in the top ten. The Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Graham (CEO of Y Combinator), in a 2016 blog post, was quite open about celebrating income inequality. He wrote, “I’ve become an expert on how to increase economic inequality, and I’ve spent the past decade working hard to do it. Not just by helping the 2500 founders YC has funded. I’ve also written essays encouraging people to increase economic inequality and giving them detailed instructions showing how.”
Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to Get From Start-Up to IPO on Your Terms by Jeffrey Bussgang
business cycle, business process, carried interest, digital map, discounted cash flows, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, pets.com, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, selection bias, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Wisdom of Crowds
www.whohastimeforthis.blogspot.com Mark Peter Davis Venture Made Transparent www.markpeterdavis.com Fred Destin A VC in Europe www.freddestin.com Chris Dixon Chris Dixon’s Blog www.cdixon.org Don Dodge Don Dodge on the Next Big Thing www.dondodge.typepad.com Tim Draper The Riskmaster www.theriskmaster.blogspot.com Brad Feld Feld Thoughts www.feld.com Seth Godin Seth’s Blog www.sethgodin.typepad.com Paul Graham www.paulgraham.com Michael Greeley On the Flying Bridge www.ontheflyingbridge.wordpress.com Bill Gurley Above the Crowd www.abovethecrowd.com Chip Hazard Hazard Lights www.hazardlights.net Mike Hirshland VCMike’s Blog www.vcmike.wordpress.com David Hornik VentureBlog www.ventureblog.com Jeff Jarvis BuzzMachine www.buzzmachine.com Jon Karlen Venturing Forth www.venturingforth.typepad.com Guy Kawasaki How to Change the World www.blog.guykawasaki.com Scott Kirsner Innovation Economy www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/ Josh Kopelman Redeye VC www.redeye.firstround.com Om Malik GigaOM www.gigaom.com Howard Morgan WayTooEarly www.waytooearly.firstround.com Jeff Nolan Venture Chronicles www.jeffnolan.com/wp Tim O’Reilly O’Reilly Radar www.radar.oreilly.com/tim Mark Pincus Mark Pincus Blog www.markpincus.typepad.com Dan Primack PE Hub www.pehub.com Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi Venture Hacks www.venturehacks.com Eric Ries Lessons Learned www.startuplessonslearned.com Bijan Sabet Bijansabet.com www.bijansabet.com David Meerman Scott Web Ink Now www.webinknow.com Dharmesh Shah OnStartups www.onstartups.com Ed Sim BeyondVC www.beyondvc.com David Skok For Entrepreneurs www.forentrepreneurs.com Mark Suster Both Sides of the Table www.bothsidesofthetable.com Kara Swisher—All Things Digital BoomTown www.kara.allthingsd.com Bill Taylor Practically Radical www.blogs.harvardbusiness.org/taylor/ Noam Wasserman Noam Wasserman’s “Founder Frustrations” Blog www.founderresearch.blogspot.com Fred Wilson A VC www.avc.com PHOTO CREDITS Photo of Christoph Westphal on p. 15, provided by Christoph Westphal Photo of Bob Langer on p. 20, Stu Rosen Photography Photo of Jack Dorsey on p. 25, provided by Jack Dorsey Photo of Reid Hoffman on p. 33, provided by Reid Hoffman Photo of Fred Wilson on p. 51, provided by Fred Wilson Photo of David Hornik on p. 57, provided by David Hornik Photo of Tim Draper on p. 62, Soo Photography Photo of Howard Morgan on p. 66, provided by Howard Morgan Photo of Patricia Nakache on p. 86, provided by Patricia Nakache Photo of Gail Goodman on p. 95, provided by Gail Goodman Photo of Eric Paley on p. 100, provided by Eric Paley Photo of Marsha Moses on p. 106, Staff Photo: Kris Snibbe/ Harvard News Office Photo of Tim Bucher on p. 124, provided by Tim Bucher Photo of Quan Zhou on p. 200, provided by Quan Zhou Photo of Henry Nguyen on p. 204, provided by Henry Nguyen Photo of Irena Goldenberg on p. 214, provided by Irena Goldenberg Photo of Terry McGuire on p. 221, Bachrach Photography INDEX Abdul, Paula Accel Partners Advisory boards, benefits of Akamai Technologies Amazon.com Andreessen, Marc Angel investors, role of Apple Arnold, Steve Aronoff, David.
The Decline and Fall of IBM: End of an American Icon? by Robert X. Cringely
AltaVista, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, business process, cloud computing, commoditize, compound rate of return, corporate raider, full employment, if you build it, they will come, immigration reform, interchangeable parts, invention of the telephone, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Paul Graham, platform as a service, race to the bottom, remote working, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, software as a service, Steve Jobs, Toyota Production System, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application
It’s a case of Dumb, and Dumber, and their incestuous cycle of life that often results in absolutely nothing. Anonymous Coward II August 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm Apple creates better products “I have no idea how IBM can remain ahead of Apple still at #2 with no product or service not replaceable by any decent open source/freeware company, except perhaps by pure brand name and salesmanship.” Yes, it’s salesmanship, basically. IBM sells ‘enterprise’ software. Read what Paul Graham says on IBM and ‘enterprise’ software. The problem is that the people who are in charge of choosing and buying ‘enterprise’ software, that is, CTOs or CIOs of large companies, aren’t the same people using the software, that is, the low-level workers. If the workers have trouble using the software, the CIO/CTO doesn’t care. He’ll just tell them to ‘deal with it’ or whatever. Of course, bad enterprise software does cause a loss in productivity and a drop in profits, but the link between cause and effect is so diffuse that it’s easy to ignore or explain away.
The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Timothy Ferriss
Airbnb, Atul Gawande, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, deliberate practice, en.wikipedia.org, Golden Gate Park, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, microbiome, Parkinson's law, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Pepto Bismol, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, Skype, spaced repetition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, the High Line, Y Combinator
CULINARY CRAM SCHOOL—LESSON PLAN TECHNIQUE: BUTCHERY TECHNIQUE: COOKING TECHNIQUE: CUTTING TECHNIQUE: EGG COOKERY TECHNIQUE: GARDE MANGER TECHNIQUE: SAUCE MAKING LONGER-TERM LEARNING SUGGESTIONS Y Combinator, quietly tucked away off highway 101 just miles from Google headquarters, is named after one of the coolest ideas in computer science: a program that runs programs. Cofounded in 2005 by Paul Graham, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell, and Jessica Livingston, YC offers small amounts of capital ($14,000–$20,000) to founders in exchange for, on average, 6% of each company. Thousands of applications flow in for dozens of spots in each “class,” leading to an acceptance rate of 2.5–3.5%. The chosen few move to Silicon Valley, refine their companies 24/7 for three months, and then pitch investors at Demo Day.
In name, YC is an early-stage or seed-stage investment fund. In reality, it has built something more like a SEAL Team 6 meets Harvard34 of start-up cram schools. The system works: YC-backed start-ups have an average valuation of $22.4 million. Some get to the billions within a few years of graduation: DropBox and Airbnb, for instance. Others sell for hundreds of millions, like Heroku ($212 million in cash). Brian Chesky, cofounder of Airbnb, says of Paul Graham, the godfather of YC: “Just as [legendary music producer John] Hammond found Bob Dylan when he was a bad singer no one knew, Graham can spot potential.” If Graham can spot potential, the question I had was: how does he do it? The answer: YC has funded more than 450 start-ups since 2005. They have a far better sample size than most venture capitalists. I vividly remember my first visit to Y Combinator Demo Day.
The Art of UNIX Programming by Eric S. Raymond
A Pattern Language, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, combinatorial explosion, commoditize, correlation coefficient, David Brooks, Debian, domain-specific language, don't repeat yourself, Donald Knuth, Everything should be made as simple as possible, facts on the ground, finite state, general-purpose programming language, George Santayana, Innovator's Dilemma, job automation, Larry Wall, MVC pattern, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, premature optimization, pre–internet, publish or perish, revision control, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Steven Levy, transaction costs, Turing complete, Valgrind, wage slave, web application
Case Study: Statistical Spam Filtering One interesting case of data-driven programming is statistical learning algorithms for detecting spam (unsolicited bulk email). A whole class of mail filter programs (those easily findable by Web search include popfile, spambayes, and bogofilter) use a database of word correlations to replace the elaborate pattern-matching conditional logic of pattern-matching spam filters. Programs like these became common on the Internet very rapidly following Paul Graham's landmark paper A Plan for Spam [Graham] in 2002. While the explosion was triggered by the increasing cost of the pattern-matching arms race, the statistical-filtering idea was adopted first and fastest by Unix shops. In part, this was certainly because almost all the Internet service providers (who are most burdened by spam, and thus had most incentive to adopt effective new techniques) are Unix shops — but undoubtedly the harmony with some traditional themes in Unix software design helped as well.
Available on the Web. [Gentner-Nielsen] Communications of the ACM. Association for Computing Machinery. Don Gentner and Jacob Nielsen. “The Anti-Mac Interface”. August 1996. Available on the Web. [Gettys] Jim Gettys. The Two-Edged Sword. 1998. Available on the Web. [Glickstein] Bob Glickstein. Writing GNU Emacs Extensions. O'Reilly & Associates. 1997. ISBN 1-56592-261-1. [Graham] Paul Graham. A Plan for Spam. Available on the Web. [Harold-Means] Elliotte Rusty Harold and W. Scott Means. XML in a Nutshell. 2nd Edition. O'Reilly & Associates. 2002. ISBN 0-596-00292-0. [Hatton97] IEEE Software. Les Hatton. “Re-examining the Defect-Density versus Component Size Distribution”. March/April 1997. Available on the Web. [Hatton98] IEEE Software. Les Hatton. “Does OO Sync with the Way We Think?”.
Programming Clojure by Stuart Halloway, Aaron Bedra
If you want a variant of records with strong typing and configurable null-checking for all fields, you can create your own defrecord macro, to be used like this: (defrecord name [Type :arg1 Type :arg2 Type :arg3] :allow-nulls false) This ability to reprogram the language from within the language is the unique advantage of Lisp. You will see facets of this idea described in various ways: Lisp is homoiconic. That is, Lisp code is just Lisp data. This makes it easy for programs to write other programs. The whole language is there, all the time. Paul Graham’s essay “Revenge of the Nerds” explains why this is so powerful. Lisp syntax also eliminates rules for operator precedence and associativity. You will not find a table documenting operator precedence or associativity anywhere in this book. With fully parenthesized expressions, there is no possible ambiguity. The downside of Lisp’s simple, regular syntax, at least for beginners, is Lisp’s fixation on parentheses and on lists as the core datatype.
Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty by David Kadavy
Airbnb, complexity theory, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Isaac Newton, John Gruber, Paul Graham, Ruby on Rails, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, web application, wikimedia commons, Y Combinator
In today’s world, that often means learning at least a little coding, but the hacker attitude can be applied to problem solving of all kinds. People who live by the hacker attitude are curious. They do whatever it takes to achieve their visions. They’re entrepreneurial. They value skills and knowledge over titles and experience. At the forefront of the hacker movement is the Hacker News community (http://news.ycombinator.com), a news aggregation site contributed to by followers of Paul Graham’s Y Combinator entrepreneurial incubator program. The program tends to fund small teams of hackers who have used their skills and hacker attitude to build cool products that solve problems: UserVoice (www.uservoice.com) democratizes customer support; Reddit (www.reddit.com) democratizes news; Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) provides an easy, automatic backup solution; and AirBNB (www.airbnb.com) turns extra bedrooms into places for travelers to stay.
Data Science from Scratch: First Principles with Python by Joel Grus
For example, a really simple stemmer function might be: def drop_final_s(word): return re.sub("s$", "", word) Creating a good stemmer function is hard. People frequently use the Porter Stemmer. Although our features are all of the form “message contains word ,” there’s no reason why this has to be the case. In our implementation, we could add extra features like “message contains a number” by creating phony tokens like contains:number and modifying the tokenizer to emit them when appropriate. For Further Exploration Paul Graham’s articles “A Plan for Spam” and “Better Bayesian Filtering” (are interesting and) give more insight into the ideas behind building spam filters. scikit-learn contains a BernoulliNB model that implements the same Naive Bayes algorithm we implemented here, as well as other variations on the model. Chapter 14. Simple Linear Regression Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.
Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis
Airbnb, big-box store, Cal Newport, call centre, corporate social responsibility, David Heinemeier Hansson, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, follow your passion, gender pay gap, glass ceiling, Inbox Zero, index fund, job automation, Kickstarter, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Naomi Klein, passive investing, Paul Graham, pets.com, remote working, Results Only Work Environment, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ruby on Rails, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, uber lyft, web application, Y Combinator, Y2K
The Kauffman Foundation study also illustrated that almost 86 percent of companies that succeeded in the long term did not take VC money. Why? Because a company’s interests may not always align with the interests of its backers. Worse, investor interests may not always align with what’s best for a business’s end customers. Capital infusion can also leave a business with less control, resilience, speed, and simplicity—the main traits required for companies of one. Paul Graham, the cofounder of Y Combinator (one of the largest and most notable VC firms for startups) explains that VCs don’t invest millions in companies because that’s what those companies might need; rather, they invest the amount that their own VC business requires to see growth in their own portfolios, coming from the few companies that actually give them a positive return. Graham notes that sudden and large investments tend to turn companies into “armies of employees who sit around having meetings.”
The Narcissist You Know by Joseph Burgo
Albert Einstein, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, financial independence, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, Paul Graham, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, WikiLeaks
Ian’s modest wealth gave him the time and freedom to figure out his next move without the pressure to earn money right away. He knew he wanted to found his own Internet company, but he had no clear vision about which type it would be. He played with different possibilities in the areas of social media and mobile apps but couldn’t settle on any one of them. In the meantime, he spent many hours reading about Internet entrepreneurs who had made a fortune. He particularly admired Paul Graham and devoted hours to the study of his essays, as if they were gospel. Like many young men of his age and educational background, he idolized Steve Jobs. Ian also began playing a popular MMORPG in his free time. This type of game allows millions of players across the globe to enter an artificial world and inhabit an alternate identity or avatar. By completing quests, acquiring skills, and battling other characters, a player can rise in power and status within this world.
Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World by Christopher Steiner
23andMe, Ada Lovelace, airport security, Al Roth, algorithmic trading, backtesting, big-box store, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delta neutral, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, dumpster diving, Flash crash, G4S, Gödel, Escher, Bach, High speed trading, Howard Rheingold, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, late fees, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, medical residency, money market fund, Myron Scholes, Narrative Science, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Mercer, Sergey Aleynikov, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator
I started this book and wrote much of it as a staff writer at Forbes magazine. By the time I finished, however, I had left Forbes to form a startup, Aisle50, which offers grocery discounts to consumers. It was quite a change for me but also one that I embraced. There have been many helping hands along the way, some of the most formidable ones coming from our investors and advisers at Y Combinator, Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston. They have built something special in Silicon Valley, and, for the curious, there happens to be a book being released at exactly the same time as this one, by the same publisher, that is the best chronicle ever put together on Y Combinator: Randy Stross’s The Launch Pad. Read it. As for Aisle50, I have high hopes thanks to our crack sales and engineering teams, who have proven to be up to every challenge we faced so far, and there have been many.
Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, RAND corporation, remote working, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software is eating the world, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, young professional
It’s even worse in the venture capital industry, where 1 percent of investment team members are black, and Latinos make up just over 2 percent, according to The Information, a Silicon Valley publication. Women represent only 15 percent of decision-making roles. VCs claim that they make decisions based entirely on the strength of the company’s ideas, and without any regard for race or gender. But can you guess where the members of the White Man Club tend to put their money? “I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg” is how Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator, a top Silicon Valley start-up incubator, once famously put it. Graham later claimed he was joking, but a glance through the roster of Y Combinator portfolio companies turns up an awful lot of nerdy young Zuckerberg clones. As for why there are so few women in venture capital, Michael Moritz, a partner at Sequoia Ventures, once said that it’s not because of gender bias but that “What we’re not prepared to do is to lower our standards.”
Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest
23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Ben Horowitz, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Chris Wanstrath, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, lifelogging, loose coupling, loss aversion, low earth orbit, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
Celebrated—even recognized—or not, open source software runs the Internet (and thus the world) today. After that extraordinary initial success, the open source movement settled into a stable, stratified environment over much the last decade, with the community producing little in the way of new innovation. Everything changed in 2008, however, when Chris Wanstrath, P.J. Hyett and Tom Preston-Werner (all out of Paul Graham’s Y Combinator entrepreneurial incubator program) founded a company called GitHub. An open source coding and collaboration tool and platform, GitHub has utterly transformed the open source environment. It is a social network for programmers in which people and their collaborations are central, rather than just the code itself. When a developer submits code to a GitHub project, that code is reviewed and commented upon by other developers, who also rate that developer.
Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Corey Pein
23andMe, 4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, bank run, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, California gold rush, cashless society, colonial rule, computer age, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Extropian, gig economy, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, hacker house, hive mind, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, passive income, patent troll, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, platform as a service, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-work, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, RFID, Robert Mercer, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Skype, Snapchat, social software, software as a service, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telepresence, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, X Prize, Y Combinator
The pet-sharing space was crowded with competitors like MySocialPetwork.com, Petwink—“for passionate pet owners”—and Petbu, which promised to help “make your pet famous.” I needed to come up with something entirely different, yet samey. I browsed the tech press for inspiration, returning, as ever, to Hacker News, the internet home page for people who were convinced they were the world’s smartest people, and I found an essay by the website’s founder, Paul Graham, called “Before the Startup.” That seemed to describe where I was. The essay was adapted from a guest lecture Graham delivered to his business partner Sam Altman’s startup class at Stanford. “The way to succeed in a startup is not to be an expert on startups, but to be an expert on your users and the problem you’re solving for them,” Graham wrote. I was an expert in nothing, which in Graham’s formulation put me at a slight advantage over people who were experts on startups.
Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made by Andy Hertzfeld
After all, I own dozens of indispensable O’Reilly books, so I was thrilled at the chance to become one of their authors. Without showing it to other publishers, I signed a contract with O’Reilly in December 2003, promising a finished draft by June 2004. Tim introduced me to the talented team at his company, including my editor, Allen Noren, who specializes in O’Reilly’s more humanistic efforts (his previous two books were Dan Gillmor’s We the People and Paul Graham’s Hackers and Painters). Allen guided me through the laborious process to transform the raw material of the Folklore site into a beautiful book. After completing the writing phase in June 2004, we embarked on the editing and layout process. The first step was copyediting. All 90 or so of the stories had to be thoroughly edited, in batches of 10 at a time. Most of the changes involved fixing grammatical errors and punctuation, and removing unnecessary verbiage, chopping up my Proustian run-on sentences (like this one), but they occasionally involved additional writing to provide more explanation or clarification.
A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger
Airbnb, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, clean water, disruptive innovation, fear of failure, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joi Ito, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Thomas L Friedman, Toyota Production System, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Zipcar
They did all of this, rented out the three mattresses to three individuals who didn’t know each other, and everyone enjoyed the experience. Gebbia says, they now started to think, Why not make a business out of this? What if we could create this same experience in every major city? Here is where the two dreamers ran headfirst into conventional wisdom. Initially, no one, outside of Chesky, Gebbia, and a third partner they brought on, thought this was an idea that made business sense or was worth supporting. Paul Graham, a renowned angel investor in Silicon Valley who runs the start-up incubator firm Y Combinator, believed quite simply, “No one would want to stay in23 someone else’s bed.” The idea that would eventually become Airbnb was challenging a basic assumption: that you needed established, reputable hotels to provide accommodation for out-of-town visitors. Those paying close attention might have noticed that just a few years prior to this, lots of people held similar assumptions about cars—you could buy them, you could rent them, but there was no practical way to share them.
Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner, Ted Dintersmith
affirmative action, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Bernie Sanders, Clayton Christensen, creative destruction, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, immigration reform, income inequality, index card, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, new economy, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, school choice, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Pinker, TaskRabbit, the scientific method, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Y Combinator
For some teams, close to 15 percent of new hires have no college education.20 This Moneyball strategy will give Google a competitive advantage over more narrow-minded competitors, prompting others to rethink hiring criteria. Hands-On “Advanced Degrees”: A preview of coming attractions in advanced degrees can be found in Silicon Valley. For decades, a Stanford or Harvard MBA was pure gold in Valley hiring circles. But today innovative programs, such as Paul Graham’s Y Combinator, are giving young entrepreneurs powerful learning experiences and a “brand” as powerful as an elite MBA. Y Combinator is every bit as selective as a top business school, but with admissions criteria focused more on a person’s ideas than his or her undergraduate GPA. A young entrepreneur going to business school will study topics, start a business (now mandatory at many programs, including Harvard Business School), develop a network of contacts, and . . . pay substantially more than $100,000 in tuition.
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, call centre, cleantech, cloud computing, corporate governance, disruptive innovation, dumpster diving, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, Googley, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, pre–internet, quantitative easing, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Stanford prison experiment, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, telemarketer, tulip mania, uber lyft, Y Combinator, éminence grise
The tech industry’s ageism is blatant and unapologetic. It’s wrapped up in the mythology that has sprung up around start-ups. Almost by definition these companies are founded and run by young people. Young people are the ones who change the world. They’re filled with passion. They have new ideas. Venture capitalists openly admit they prefer to invest in twenty-something founders. “The cut-off in investors’ heads is thirty-two,” Paul Graham, who runs an incubator called Y Combinator, once said, adding that, “I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg.” John Doerr, a legendary venture capitalist and partner at Kleiner Perkins, once said he liked to invest in “white male nerds who have dropped out of Harvard or Stanford and they have absolutely no social life. When I see that pattern coming in, it [is] very easy to decide to invest.”
Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas
"side hustle", activist lawyer, affirmative action, Airbnb, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Heinemeier Hansson, deindustrialization, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, friendly fire, global pandemic, high net worth, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hyperloop, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor, zero-sum game
But as we’ve seen, they actually made the situation worse by seeking to bust unions and whatever other worker protections still lingered and to remake more and more of the society as an always-on labor market in which workers were downbidding one another for millions of little fleeting gigs. “Any industry that still has unions has potential energy that could be released by start-ups,” the Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Graham once tweeted. As America’s level of inequality spread to ever more unmanageable levels, these MarketWorld winners might have helped out. Looking within their own communities would have told them what they needed to know. Doing everything to reduce their tax burdens, even when legal, stands in contradiction with their claims to do well by doing good. Diverting the public’s attention from an issue like offshore banking worsens the big problems, even as these MarketWorlders shower attention on niche causes.
Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It by Scott Kupor
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, asset allocation, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, carried interest, cloud computing, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, discounted cash flows, diversification, diversified portfolio, estate planning, family office, fixed income, high net worth, index fund, information asymmetry, Lean Startup, low cost airline, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Myron Scholes, Network effects, Paul Graham, pets.com, price stability, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, software as a service, sovereign wealth fund, Startup school, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, VA Linux, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
Not only did the absolute cost of servers, networking, storage, data center space, and applications begin to fall, but the procurement method evolved from up-front purchasing to much cheaper “renting” with the advent of what is known as cloud computing. As a startup, these changes are very significant, as they mean that the amount of money you need to raise from VCs to get started is much less than in the past. Y Combinator Cracks Open the “Black Box” The second material transformation in the startup ecosystem was the advent of an incubator known as Y Combinator (or YC for short). Started in 2005 by Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston, YC basically created startup school. Cohorts of entrepreneurs joined a “YC batch,” working in an open office space together and going through a series of tutorials and mentorship sessions over a three-month period to see what might come out the other end. Over the past thirteen years, YC has turned out nearly 1,600 promising startups, including some very well-known success stories such as Airbnb, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, and Stripe.
Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis, Morgan Brown
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, DevOps, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, game design, Google Glasses, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, minimum viable product, Network effects, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, working poor, Y Combinator, young professional
As Facebook’s original growth team lead, Chamath Palihapitiya, wisely cautioned in one talk, “If you can’t be extremely clinical and extremely unemotionally detached from the thing that you’re building, you will make these massive mistakes and things won’t grow because you don’t understand what’s happened.”9 To clarify how dedication to improving a North Star metric helps make difficult decisions about how to spend time and resources, let’s look at how the Airbnb founders decided to conduct an experiment they thought might generate more nights booked—their North Star. To begin, they looked at their data to identify markets where bookings were lagging and, to their surprise, discovered that New York City was underachieving. Clearly, New York is a major tourist destination, so they dug in, with early investor Paul Graham of Y Combinator, to analyze why bookings weren’t stronger. Reviewing the apartment listings for the city, cofounder Joe Gebbia recalls that “the photos were really bad. People were using camera phones and taking Craigslist-quality pictures. Surprise! No one was booking because you couldn’t see what you were paying for.” Graham recommended that the two experiment with a hack to improve bookings that was low tech and high effort—but it was fast to execute on and wound up incredibly effective.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, availability heuristic, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, double helix, Elon Musk, fear of failure, Firefox, George Santayana, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, women in the workforce
Why did such savvy: Personal interviews with Aileen Lee, February 6, 2015, Randy Komisar, February 13, 2015, and Bill Sahlman, March 11, 2015; Steve Kemper, Reinventing the Wheel: A Story of Genius, Innovation, and Grand Ambition (New York: HarperCollins, 2005); Hayagreeva Rao, Market Rebels: How Activists Make or Break Radical Innovations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008); Mathew Hayward, Ego Check: Why Executive Hubris Is Wrecking Companies and Careers and How to Avoid the Trap (New York: Kaplan Business, 2007); Jordan Golson, “Well, That Didn’t Work: The Segway Is a Technological Marvel. Too Bad It Doesn’t Make Any Sense,” Wired, January 16, 2015, www.wired.com/2015/01/well-didnt-work-segway-technological-marvel-bad-doesnt-make-sense; Paul Graham, “The Trouble with the Segway,” July 2009, www.paulgraham.com/segway.html; Mike Masnick, “Why Segway Failed to Reshape the World: Focused on Invention, Rather Than Innovation,” Techdirt, July 31, 2009, www.techdirt.com/articles/20090730/1958335722.shtml; Gary Rivlin, “Segway’s Breakdown,” Wired, March 2003, http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/11.03/segway.html; Douglas A. McIntyre, “The 10 Biggest Tech Failures of the Last Decade,” Time, May 14, 2009, http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1898610_1898625_1898641,00.html.
Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking by E. Gabriella Coleman
activist lawyer, Benjamin Mako Hill, commoditize, crowdsourcing, Debian, Donald Knuth, dumpster diving, en.wikipedia.org, financial independence, ghettoisation, GnuPG, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jason Scott: textfiles.com, Jean Tirole, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Larry Wall, Louis Pasteur, means of production, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, pirate software, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, software patent, software studies, Steve Ballmer, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, The Hackers Conference, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, web application, web of trust
While much of this stems from noble traditions of SmallTalk and ML [they are computer languages], much of it also fails to realize the point of these ancestral languages: categorization (such as through strict typing and object models) is itself a form of computation. When this fact is not respected, you wind up with a bastardized language that is [ … ] Anal. Perl was designed by a linguist, and realizes that people have different things to say in different contexts, and your language is defined by the environment and not vice versa. As Paul Graham said, both the world and programming is a “Big Ball of Mud,” which perl has evolved around. The implicit variables, the open object model, the terse expressions all contribute to hacking on the Big Ball of Mud. Finally, there is a very pragmatic reason to like perl: It will save your ass. Those who are fluent enough in the culture to realize that “this problem has been solved before,” will be able to invoke forces through perl.
Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll
Bob Morris, the head honcho who’d grilled me on astrophysics, then nearly asphyxiated me with cigarette smoke. So Bob Morris’ son froze two thousand computers. Why? To impress his dad? As a halloween prank? To show off to a couple thousand computer programmers? Whatever his purposes were, I don’t believe he was in cahoots with his father. Rumors have it that he worked with a friend or two at Harvard’s computing department (Harvard student Paul Graham sent him mail asking for “Any news on the brilliant project”), but I doubt his father would encourage anyone to create a virus. As Bob Morris, Sr., said, “This isn’t exactly a good mark for a career at NSA.” After dissecting the code, MIT’s Jon Rochlis characterized the virus as “not very well written.” It was unique in that it attacked computers through four pathways: Bugs in the Unix Sendmail and Finger programs, guessing passwords, and by exploiting paths of trust between computers.
Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand
agricultural Revolution, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, lateral thinking, low earth orbit, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Calthorpe, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, William Langewiesche, working-age population, Y2K
Dream the dream of the perfect (not practical) results so you can see the vision clearly and with full passion. Then ask, What do we know? Put together the knowledge about the situation and what facts may be missing both about the actual topic and the players and power relationships involved. Finally, What will we accept? You don’t have to go public with your acceptance strategy, but it should be thought through.” Programmer Paul Graham: “Find (a) simple solutions (b) to overlooked problems (c) that actually need to be solved, and (d) deliver them as informally as possible, (e) starting with a very crude version 1.0, then (f) iterating rapidly.” (Iterating rapidly is how squatters build cities and the Bradley sisters eliminate alien-invasive plants.) Physicist Freeman Dyson: “A project is sustainable if it is cheap enough to be the first of a series continuing indefinitely into the future.
Higher-Order Perl: A Guide to Program Transformation by Mark Jason Dominus
He also sent me periodic mail to remind me how wonderful my book was, which often arrived at times when I wasn’t so sure. Several specific ideas in Chapter 4 were suggested by other people. Meng Wong suggested the clever and apt “odometer” metaphor. Randal Schwartz helped me with the “append” function. Eric Roode suggested the multiple list iterator. When I needed to read out-of-print books by Paul Graham, A. E. Sundstrom lent them to me. When I needed a copy of volume 2 of The Art of Computer Programming, Hildo Biersma and Morgan Stanley bought it for me. When I needed money, B. B. King lent me some. Thanks to all of you. The constraint system drawing program of Chapter 9 was a big project, and I was stuck on it for a long time. Without the timely assistance of Wm Leler, I might still be stuck.
The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve by Steve Stewart-Williams
Albert Einstein, battle of ideas, carbon-based life, David Attenborough, European colonialism, feminist movement, financial independence, gender pay gap, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, out of africa, Paul Graham, phenotype, post-industrial society, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies
And they’re not selected because they’re true: Freud’s memes were successful despite the fact that most of his best-known claims are almost certainly false. Ultimately, memes are selected for one reason and one reason only: because they have properties that keep them in circulation in the meme pool. From this modest starting point, some rather profound consequences follow. First, through cultural competition, memes get better and better at surviving and spreading. Food gets more appetizing; music gets catchier; stories get more appealing. As Paul Graham put it, the world gets more addictive.68 Second, given enough time, memes start falling into mutually supportive clusters, known in the trade as memeplexes. Memeplexes include everything from calculus to political ideologies. Like genes in a genome, the memes of a memeplex may coevolve and coordinate with one another. Thus, the belief that “You should die for your religion” may coevolve with the belief that “Life continues after death.”
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution - 25th Anniversary Edition by Steven Levy
air freight, Apple II, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, Byte Shop, computer age, computer vision, corporate governance, Donald Knuth, El Camino Real, game design, Hacker Ethic, hacker house, Haight Ashbury, John Conway, John Markoff, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, Paul Graham, popular electronics, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, software patent, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Hackers Conference, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator
He recently helped establish a workspace in Mountain View, California, called the Hacker Dojo, which charges its eighty members $100 a month for access to a 9500-square-foot space with an in-house network and weird tools like IR readers. It’s one outpost in a growing number of "Hacker Spaces" across the country devoted to empowering formerly isolated and underequipped gearheads. “I am a sensei of the dojo, which as you may know is a grand revered master,” he says, a wide grin on his face. “Felsenstein sensei.” • • • • • • • • Greenblatt, Stallman, and Felsenstein see hacking as a set of ideals. But Paul Graham sees it as a humming economic engine. The forty-five-year-old Internet guru, himself a fanatic engineer in his day, is a cofounder of Y Combinator, an incubator for Internet startups. Twice a year, his company runs American Idol-style contests to select twenty to thirty budding companies to participate in a three-month boot camp, culminating in a demo day packed with Angel investors, VCs, and acquisition-hungry companies like Google and Yahoo.
The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara
"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K
It was about putting engineering first—finding the best technical talent, with no bias about origin or pedigree. It was about that “pattern recognition” so fatefully identified by John Doerr, looking for the next Stanford or Harvard dropout with a wild but brilliant idea. Of all those assertions, Doerr’s slip-up came closest to the heart of the Valley’s secret. “West Coast investors aren’t bolder because they’re irresponsible cowboys, or because the good weather makes them optimistic,” wrote Paul Graham, founder of the Valley’s most influential tech incubator, Y Combinator, in 2007. “They’re bolder because they know what they’re doing.” The Valley power players knew the tech, knew the people, and knew the formula that worked. They looked for “grade-A men” (who very occasionally were women) from the nation’s best engineering and computer science programs, or from the most promising young companies, and who had validation from someone else they already knew.
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss
Airbnb, Alexander Shulgin, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Madoff, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Boris Johnson, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cal Newport, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, fear of failure, Firefox, follow your passion, future of work, Google X / Alphabet X, Howard Zinn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, lateral thinking, life extension, lifelogging, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, phenotype, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, post scarcity, post-work, premature optimization, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Wall-E, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
less and less with new startups. That’s my cue to exit stage left completely, especially when I can do work I love (e.g., writing) with ¹⁄₁₀ the energy expenditure. I need to stop sowing the seeds of my own destruction. How Much of Your Life Is Making Versus Managing? How Do You Feel About the Split? One of my favorite time-management essays is “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” by Paul Graham of Y Combinator fame. Give it a read. As investor Brad Feld and many others have observed, great creative work isn’t possible if you’re trying to piece together 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Large, uninterrupted blocks of time—3 to 5 hours minimum—create the space needed to find and connect the dots. And one block per week isn’t enough. There has to be enough slack in the system for multi-day, CPU-intensive synthesis.
Masterminds of Programming: Conversations With the Creators of Major Programming Languages by Federico Biancuzzi, Shane Warden
Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), business intelligence, business process, cellular automata, cloud computing, commoditize, complexity theory, conceptual framework, continuous integration, data acquisition, domain-specific language, Douglas Hofstadter, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, Firefox, follow your passion, Frank Gehry, general-purpose programming language, Guido van Rossum, HyperCard, information retrieval, iterative process, John von Neumann, Larry Wall, linear programming, loose coupling, Mars Rover, millennium bug, NP-complete, Paul Graham, performance metric, Perl 6, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Ruby on Rails, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Silicon Valley, slashdot, software as a service, software patent, sorting algorithm, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, Turing complete, type inference, Valgrind, Von Neumann architecture, web application
And to me, a well-designed DSL is the ultimate abstraction of a domain—it captures just the right amount of information, no more and no less. What is so great about Haskell is that it provides a framework for creating these DSLs easily and effectively. It’s not a perfect methodology, but it’s pretty darn good. Philip: Functional languages make it easy to extend the language within the language. Lisp and Scheme are brilliant examples of this; read Paul Graham on how Lisp was the secret weapon in building one of the earliest web applications (which later became a Yahoo! product), and in particular how Lisp macros were key to building this software. Haskell also provides a number of features that make it easy to extend the power of the language, including lambda expressions, laziness, monad notation, and (in GHC) template Haskell for metaprogramming.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
3D printing, access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Ayatollah Khomeini, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, endogenous growth, energy transition, European colonialism, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, frictionless market, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, Laplace demon, life extension, long peace, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, open economy, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Scientific racism, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, union organizing, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y2K
Gottlieb, A. 2016. The dream of enlightenment: The rise of modern philosophy. New York: Norton. Gottschall, J. 2012. The storytelling animal: How stories make us human. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Gottschall, J., & Wilson, D. S., eds. 2005. The literary animal: Evolution and the nature of narrative. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Graham, P. 2016. The refragmentation. Paul Graham Blog. http://www.paulgraham.com/re.html. Grayling, A. C. 2007. Toward the light of liberty: The struggles for freedom and rights that made the modern Western world. New York: Walker. Grayling, A. C. 2013. The God argument: The case against religion and for humanism. London: Bloomsbury. Greene, J. 2013. Moral tribes: Emotion, reason, and the gap between us and them. New York: Penguin.
Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming by Peter Van-Roy, Seif Haridi
computer age, Debian, discrete time, Donald Knuth, Eratosthenes, fault tolerance, G4S, general-purpose programming language, George Santayana, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Menlo Park, natural language processing, NP-complete, Paul Graham, premature optimization, sorting algorithm, Therac-25, Turing complete, Turing machine, type inference
Addison-Wesley, 1983. Danny Goodman. Dynamic HTML: The Deﬁnitive Reference, 2nd edition. O’Reilly & Associates, Sebastopol, CA, 2002.   James Edward Gordon. The Science of Structures and Materials. Scientiﬁc American 856 References Library, 1988.   James Gosling, Bill Joy, and Guy Steele. The Java Language Speciﬁcation. Addison-Wesley, 1996. Available at http://www.javasoft.com. Paul Graham. On Lisp. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliﬀs, NJ, 1993. Available for download from the author.  Jim Gray and Andreas Reuter. Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques. Morgan Kaufmann, San Mateo, CA, 1993.  Donatien Grolaux. QTk: Graphical user interface design for Oz, 2003. Available at http://www.mozart-oz.org/mozart-stdlib/index.html. Donatien Grolaux, Peter Van Roy, and Jean Vanderdonckt.
The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection by Gardner Dozois
augmented reality, clean water, computer age, cosmological constant, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, financial independence, game design, gravity well, jitney, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Paul Graham, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Skype, stem cell, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, urban renewal, Wall-E
Levine, Liz Williams, Geoff Ryman, Paul Brazier, Charles Coleman Finlay, Gord Sellar, Steven Utley, James L. Cambias, Garth Nix, David Hartwell, Ginjer Buchanan, Susan Allison, Shawna McCarthy, Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, John Klima, John O’Neill, Rodger Turner, Tyree Campbell, Stuart Mayne, John Kenny, Edmund Schubert, Tehani Wessely, Tehani Croft, Karl Johanson, Sally Beasley, Connor Cochran, Tony Lee, Joe Vas, John Pickrell, Ian Redman, Anne Zanoni, Kaolin Fire, Ralph Benko, Paul Graham Raven, Nick Wood, David Moles, Mike Allen, Jason Sizemore, Karl Johanson, Sue Miller, David Lee Summers, Christopher M. Cevasco, Tyree Campbell, Andrew Hook, Vaughne Lee Hansen, Mark Watson, Sarah Lumnah, and special thanks to my own editor, Marc Resnick. Thanks are also due to Charles N. Brown, whose magazine Locus (Locus Publications, P. O. Box 13305, Oakland, CA 94661. $60 in the United States for a one-year subscription [twelve issues] via second class; credit card orders 510-339-9198) was used as an invaluable reference source throughout the summation; Locus Online (locusmag.com), edited by Mark R.
Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, different worldview, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, scientific worldview, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
As Robin Hanson describes it, the ability to have potentially divisive conversations is a limited resource. If you can think of ways to pull the rope sideways, you are justified in expending your limited resources on relatively less common issues where marginal discussion offers relatively higher marginal payoffs. But then the responsibilities that you deprioritize are a matter of your limited resources. Not a matter of floating high above, serene and Wise. My reply to Paul Graham’s comment on Hacker News seems like a summary worth repeating: There’s a difference between: Passing neutral judgment; Declining to invest marginal resources; Pretending that either of the above is a mark of deep wisdom, maturity, and a superior vantage point; with the corresponding implication that the original sides occupy lower vantage points that are not importantly different from up there