How many stars would you give the book?
Current scores (last checked on October 31, 2022):
“In the world where raising venture money is celebrated as a success, this is a fresh perspective on what a real success is.”
“Like all great stories, there is plenty of action, lots of twists, a great cast, some baddies and a hopefully happy ending.”
“It is definitely a business book that documents meticulously how Bruno built and sold his business, the decisions he took and their rationale, and how he handled all the problems he met along the way. It is a very generous and candid book and Bruno puts in a lot of details and numbers.
It is also a warning to be wary about the problems you can encounter (even with the best of planning and forethought) and a cautionary tale about the excesses of some Venture Capitalists.”
“[I]t is a really entertaining read, carefully told my the person at the centre of the story.”
Very insightful lessons for other startup founders
As the founder of a software startup, I was very intrigued by this book. It sketches a detailed picture of the ups and downs that you encounter when starting a company, and nurturing it over more than a decade. In many small stories I see striking parallels with my own startup, and I can use the author's experience to avoid some of the problems he experienced in the later stages of the company.
I have read a number of very good business books, most of them written by outside consultants / experts, which are typically good at distilling clear lessons and formulas to reuse. Books written by startup founders seem to be a minority; in fact, I rarely encounter books that are so open about the failures encountered, and expose so many details about day-to-day issues. (Perhaps Ben Horowitz' "The hard thing about hard things" comes close.)
Initially I wondered whether it was a good idea for the author to provide fairly detailed descriptions of various technical and/or legal subjects, because I can imagine that for some readers this will distract from the flow of the text. However, it quickly dawned on me that these details and insights are the real selling point of this book, as this kind of information (deal sizes, negotiation problems, insights into product positioning, etc.) is quite difficult to find elsewhere.
The author's advice near the end of the book — i.e., that founders should not stick around for a long time after having sold their startup — is quite gloomy, because it undermines the rosy picture typically painted about the startup scene, but the author goes to great lengths to explain why (and after some further reflection, I tend to agree with his advice).
Although the book does not pretend to be a typical advisory book — like those from outside consultants / experts — I noticed that I have already discussed several intriguing points raised by the author, with people near to me. There are not many books that have triggered this level of discussion around me
Finally, perhaps good to note that the discussions of the open source aspects was not a reason for me to read the book, as my own startup uses the more traditional proprietary software approach. However, in my past life as an information technology lawyer, open source was one of my favourite subject matters, so I do have relevant knowledge in this area. From what I read in this book, I think the author provides a very good and clear overview of the various legal & business aspects of open source.
“The reader is a fly on the wall in the board room, witnessing the confrontations of different company cultures.”