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Wednesday 28 November 2001

More recent reading

Another book I’ve been reading recently is dot.bomb: My Days and Nights at an Internet Goliath, by David Kuo. It’s an insider’s story of Value America. Value America, in case you missed it, was to be an on-line Wal-Mart, a purveyor of everything under the sun. It wound up crashing and burning in a remarkably short time as a result, it seems, of the founder’s inability to build and run a business of this sort.

I haven’t yet finished reading the thing, so my characterization of the company may be incorrect. What I’ve read so far certainly mirrors my experience at other 1990s startups, though. The book teaches the valuable lesson that sometimes the emperor indeed has no clothes. Corporate culture, particularly startup corporate culture, tends to revolve around this worship of the founder and CEO. In some cases, where a giant, profitable company has been built out of nothing — Microsoft is one good example — this might be justified. But a lot of the founders and CEOs being revered within their little corporate worlds for their “talent” and “vision” have neither. This is an important thing to know.

Posted by tino at 12:42 28.11.01
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