Sun, Jul 14, 2013

Silicon Valley History — The Reading List

We’ve been in Silicon Valley for a mere 4.5 years now and I still revel in all its glorious history. In many ways I do not particularly care about the Facebooks, Instagrams and your latest, greatest and hottest startup of the moment — but am deeply fascinated by the pioneers of this valley: The companies of the semi-conductor age, the companies which created the networks we so freely wander today, the companies which created the software movement and the companies which discovered this vast resource we take for granted today: The Web.

There are some excellent books out there about these pioneers. Reading those not only gives you historical context but provides deep insights into management, the art of the start, the hustle, the entrepreneurial struggle…

Here’s my list:

  • The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder is a must-read. I’ve read this book more than five times now — it’s incredibly rich teaching in entrepreneurship.
  • Dealers of Lightning by Michael Hiltzik provides a fascinating view into the legendary Xerox PARC; the birthplace of the modern day computer.
  • Inside Intuit by Suzanne Taylor and Kathy Schroeder provides a deep view into the early days of Intuit. Intuit’s founder Scott Cook is one of the most thoughtful leaders in Silicon Valley and Intuit one of the software companies I admire most — this book gives you a fascinating insight into the story and culture.
  • Netflixed by Gina Keating is a fantastic account of how Netflix managed to disrupt a whole industry.
  • The PayPal Wars by Eric Jackson is a rare and insightful first-person account of the PayPal story.
  • The Perfect Store by Adam Cohen tells the story of early day eBay. Fascinating read if you’re interested in the eCommerce space.

And as a bonus: Everybody should have read The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe — the account of the US space program which put a man on the moon is just incredible and makes for inspired reading.

Happy reading! And — which book (in this line) should I read and have I missed?

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