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7 Stories About Start-Ups-Turned-Tech-Giants

Nov 7 2013 - 12:56pm

Twitter's massive IPO [1] isn't the only reason why the company is dominating headlines today. Hatching Twitter [2] by New York Times reporter Nick Bilton is a new book released just two days ago that describes the internal corporate drama that almost ran the micromessaging service into the ground.

This narrative is not uncommon amongst tech's largest companies. Tales of executive infighting, betrayal, and imitation are common threads among Twitter, Apple, Facebook, and many of Silicon Valley's biggest names. They are telling sagas about how it takes more than innovation, technology, and talented engineers to run the companies that make popular products. Click on for more riveting reads like Hatching Twitter about start-ups-turned-enterprises and the executives behind their transformations.

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

The highly-anticipated title Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal [3] was released on the eve of one of the largest tech IPOs [4] of all time, making its debut one of the most timely entrances in tech novella history. Author Nick Bilton, who is a reporter for The New York Times, spent hours upon hours conducting dozens of interviews with the company's founders and board members.

Earlier this month, The New York Times released an excerpt [5] of the book that revealed the company's founding story was not as it seemed. The small start-up that caught the attention of President Obama, the Dalai Lama, and other world leaders was actually rife with infighting amongst its top executives. The rise, fall, and rise again of cofounder Jack Dorsey [6] is the book's most stirring plotline. The now-CEO of mobile payment system Square was forced out of his own company by a longtime partner but was able to recover his position years later (not unlike Apple founder Steve Jobs).

The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal [7] inspired the full-length feature film, The Social Network [8], which won three Oscars and four Golden Globes. Author Ben Mezrich focused on the social lives of the future social networking moguls, especially the relationship between cofounder Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's earliest investor, Eduardo Saverin.

The book details the story of Facebook's beginnings from a Harvard University dorm room all the way to its transformation into the most ubiquitous networking platform on the Internet.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

Although The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon [9] was released less than a month ago, the meticulously researched title is already making waves. Author and journalist Brad Stone covers the wide breadth of factors that have contributed to Amazon's lucrative success.

The ecommerce site truly is "The Everything Store" having sold over $61 billion in goods in less than 10 years and, as the book reveals, that growth was not achieved overnight. Jeff Bezos, the fearless leader of Amazon, is described as being as a polarizing figure who is as motivational as he is ruthless.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The one and only authorized biography of the Apple founder is a result of dozens of interviews conducted by author Walter Isaacson with the tech icon himself. Steve Jobs [10] is a candid portrait of the creative entrepreneur and his life's work — creating products for Apple.

From the Apple II to the iMac and the iPhone, Isaacson chronicles Jobs's changing views about technology, relationships, and spirituality. He describes the Apple founder's duality: his genius, his compassion, but also his relentless desire for perfection. It's difficult not to feel emotional reading the biography, as it was released just one month after Steve Jobs's passing. Although the book is over 600 pages, it is a gripping read worth the time of anyone who has ever touched an Apple product.

Without Their Permission by Alexis Ohanian

In Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed [11], Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian explains how some rules are made to be broken.

Ohanian built the most social and democratic platform on the Internet — Reddit — when he was in his 20s. In this book, the cofounder shares the lessons he gained from the experience and makes a strong case for using the Internet to change the world.

Netflixed by Gina Keating

Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyes [12] is more relevant a read than ever, with the news that movie rental and DVD-by-mail service Blockbuster [13] is finally closing its doors.

Author Gina Keating provides a written account of Netflix's journey, from its founding in 1997 to its rise as an on-demand streaming video service competing with the likes of the country's biggest broadcasting companies. Despite its successes, Netflix faces frequent customer backlash, and the company CEO's is sometimes heralded as the nation's worst CEO. Keating's book is an in-depth look at the service enabling movie and TV show marathons in many modern homes.

Hard Drive by James Wallace and Jim Erickson

Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire [14] is the story of one of America's most wealthy entrepreneurs and the role he played in shaping the computer industry. This book by James Wallace and Jim Erickson was published nearly a decade ago, but its account of a 13-year-old hacker who transformed into a business-minded billionaire CEO is still a compelling narrative. Hard Drive was released just before the debut of Windows 95, which was the peak of Microsoft's golden age.

If you're intrigued to learn more about Bill, author James Wallace released a sequel titled Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace [15], which is an interesting read that exposes another side of the tech executive and humanitarian.

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