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Entrepreneurship learning recommendations

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This page provides subject-specific learning recommendations for the subject entrepreneurship. See all our learning recommendations pages |

Entrepreneurship may be a high-value career option for people who are willing to take risks and have the relevant personal characteristics.

This page goes over the top learning recommendations for entrepreneurship. The list is slanted in the direction of the technology sector, where some of the most valuable entrepreneurship has occurred in the last few decades. In particular, it is focused more on entrepreneurship in areas that enjoy some scalability advantages (as opposed to, say, opening a hair-cutting salon, which, though entrepreneurial, is not typically done with the intention of scaling up).

Online reading

Source for notes/articles About the authors About the notes Book form
Paul Graham's articles Paul Graham is co-founder of Y Combinator, one of Silicon Valley's top startup accelerators. He earlier co-founded a startup that was sold to Yahoo! and became its online store. Here's his Wikipedia page. The essays are widely cited as a good starting point for budding entrepreneurs, and people in Y Combinator's programs are strongly advised to read them. The book Hackers & Painters (Kindle edition ~$5) by Paul Graham includes and elaborates on some of his earlier essays.
Peter Thiel's CS183 notes (compiled by Blake Masters) Peter Thiel was co-founder of PayPal. He also co-founded and works at Founders Fund and Clarium Capital. Thiel and Founders Fund are known for investing in innovative startups with a higher success rate than outsiders might anticipate. The notes are based off of the CS183 class Thiel taught at Stanford University. A book titled Zero to One (hardcover ~$20), based on the notes, is scheduled for release in Summer 2014.
Marc Andreessen's blog (best material here Marc Andreessen was the founder of Netscape, the company behind Netscape Navigator, one of the most sophisticated web browsers in the 1990s.

Books with relevant ideas

Book Author ISBN and purchase links Price estimate What it's about
The Lean Startup Eric Ries ISBN 978-0307887894, book website, Amazon Kindle $10-15 (Kindle edition), $15-20 (paperback, hardcover) Ries discusses the art of management under uncertainty that he considers essential for entrepreneurs, and argues that rejecting mainstream management processes (that are unsuited for highly uncertain circumstances as found in entrepreneurship) does not imply embracing chaos and disorderliness.

Historical books

Books about the history of specific companies that grew big

It's important to remember that the books listed here describe very rare and unusual companies that had a combination of a great product, capable founders, and good timing. It's highly unlikely that a given entrepreneur would experience success at that level. Nonetheless, the books may inspire, inform, and entertain.

Book Author ISBN and purchase links Price estimate What it's about
The PayPal Wars Eric M. Jackson ISBN 978-0977898435, Amazon Kindle ~$5 (Kindle edition), $10-15 (paperback) Describes the early history of PayPal, including the early vision of co-founder Peter Thiel as well as the technical and legal challenges faced by them.
Amazon.com Robert Spector ISBN 978-0066620428, Amazon Kindle ~$10 (Kindle edition), $10-15 (paperback) Describes the early history of Amazon, from its creation in the early 1990s. Does not include events beyond 2002.
The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World David Kirkpatrick ISBN 978-1439102121, Amazon Kindle $10-15 (Kindle edition, paperback) Covers the history of Facebook from its inception till late 2009
Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal Nick Bilton ISBN 978-1444767049, Amazon Kindle $10-15 (Kindle edition), $15-20 (hardcover) Covers the history of Twitter till 2013
In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives Steven Levy ISBN 978-1416596585, Amazon Kindle $10-15 (Kindle edition), ~$15 (hardcover, audiobook) Covers the history of Google till about 2010
Total -- -- ~$50 (Kindle editions), ~$65 (print versions)

Books with individual chapters on various companies and products that grew big or seemed poised to grow big

Book Author ISBN and purchase links Price estimate What it's about
Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days Jessica Livingston (Y Combinator cofounder) ISBN 978-1430210788, Amazon Kindle $10-15 (Kindle edition, paperback, hardcover) Each chapter features an interview with one startup founder. It is part of Y Combinator's recommended reading for people doing the Y Combinator program.
Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 Sarah Lacy ISBN 978-1592404278, Amazon Kindle $10-15 (Kindle edition) ~$15 (paperback) The book discusses a number of startup founders in a loosely narrative style (as opposed to Livingston's interview style). It includes a discussion of PayPal and is a source for the PayPal Mafia jargon.
Total -- -- ~$25 (Kindle editions), ~$30 (print versions) --