Did you ever think about the story behind your favorite Web 2.0 tool and what it took for it to be successful?
This reads like a technological soap opera complete with betrayal, suspense, and yes, even love. I was fascinated with the individual stories and relationships between the developers and venture capitalists and what it takes to be successful in today's Silicon Valley. But it isn't all about money either. It is about believing in your idea and paying a high price for sticking to your principles.
Is this a necessary and 'must read' book? No, not really, but it sure provided interesting insight into the the technology I use everyday and why a new way of doing business has been born. And it explains the Time cover story in 2006 even further. So grab the book, read a little, reflect a little (in this thread preferably), repeat.
When I picked up the book, “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good”, I was not sure what area of WEB 2.0 the focus would be directed, but after reading the prologue and first chapter, quickly learned that the star was a Russian born Max Levchin, who started PayPal, with a preview of a few other Silicon Valley smart kids who struck it rich. As I read the first chapter which gave insight into Max’s early life, I saw evolve the rags to riches story. Max’s near death experiences; almost drowning and escape from the cloud of radiation over Chernoblyl created the self competiveness that lead him to create PayPal and evolve from a life of digging out of trash cans into a millionaire. After selling PayPal, this competitive spirit led him to show his peers that PayPal was not just a fluke. He had to start a new company that was bigger and better in every way. His next venture was slide. As I read about Max fixation on writing code as a young boy and how his mother would bring home computers from work to allow him to perfect this skill, I wondered how much better our schools would be if we singled out student strengths and allowed them the time to perfect them. I reflected back to the days when my son was in high school taking history, his favorite subject. He and his best friend competed to see who would get the better grade; they both performed equally as well until one of them was taken out of the class and sent to the class of another teacher who did not share the same enthusiasm as the previous teacher. When the competition was removed, so was the enthusiasm. This led me to wonder if the self competition that was first fueled by Max writing code on a computer tugged home by his mother ignited in him the spirit to be the best and if this spirit can be cloned in today’s students?
I got a hard copy of Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good yesterday, no Kindle yet:). Started with the Prologue and could not stop until I had to because I was helping with dinner:). I made it up to page 23. So far, I have noted that the Prologue explains well why people were concerned about "dot coms" and how their stock was valued. I enjoyed reading about different people involved in the process in the Prologue as well.
As I began reading Chapter 1, I could immediately identify with "Max" and his anxiety with water. I have a similar challenge with heights. Despite going rock climbing and rappelling, I have not successfully overcome mine like Max was able. I also enjoyed how his band teacher was understanding about his accent and looked to help Max become more successful in speaking English. I'm looking forward to seeing how Sarah Lacy intertwines this anxiety with his successes.
I enjoyed the first 23 pages and am looking forward the the next 251. If the writing style stays similar to what I've read so far, I'm sure it will be a fast, fun read.
Max's story is fascinating and a perfect one in which to start the book. Now, I am not sure, but I don't think you are to the part about his experience with the Chernobyl accident...oh, and his story just gets better. The birth of Paypal is phenomenal. It is amazing what people will do when they believe in an idea and Max's dedication is unimaginable to me.
Here's a fact: Have you heard of the Gausebeck-Levchin test? He was the first to use it.
Max had no other choice but to be successful with a mother as determined as his. It was through her determination that she was able to get the family out of Russia during the Chernobyl accident. Through her quick thinking she had Max's contaminated shoe removed and proved that the family was clean. They walked away and never looked back. We can easily see why he was so focused, grounded, and competitive; his mentor was no different.
I am about half way through the book. I actually started reading it while on vacation with my wife. So much for "staying away from tech while on vacation" promise. As I read, it struck me that even though everything didn't/hasn't gone right, the drive and determination to succeed and learn from those past mistakes is a driving force with all of those involved. I also wondered about the suggestion that the younger you are, the more driven you are to get past the barriers to success. So far, this story suggests that that is true. We shall see.
A great book that reads really well. It has been a "page turner" for me. Hope to finish this week.
I am now close to being finished with the book, but first, I would like to share a quote from page 183, which I feel really sums up this book, at least from my perspective. "Every decade a handful of truly great companies come out of the Valley. If people did the rational thing--taking the money--that wouldn't happen. Someone has to believe. Someone has to say no. Maybe that's the key to the so-call Mark Zukerberg phenomenon, why so many of the largest Silicon Valley companies come from young guys in their twenties. They haven't yet learned that when someone offers you a billion dollars, you should probably say yes". They said no because they didn't want to give up control of their companies and ideas. They believed in something bigger than themselves and they just aren't ready yet to give up the control of their vision of what their company can become.
Well if you really think about it, if you sale the company in a real sense you are killing the vision; which to some is like a parent killing a baby. When the vision dies, the company soon follows. This is clearly illustrated when Peter Van Camp, the "CEO" of a multi-billion dollar public company was appointed to run Equinix. He never understood the dotcom generation and quickly the loses begin to outweight the revenue. We see this not only in Equinix, but Apple experienced the same loss when its visionary step away momentarily. It was not until Steve Jobs returned that Apple was able to regroup and once again began to experience a positive up turn. Equinix was not so fortunate, but Jay and his suporters did rise again through Revision3 and Digg . . . I guess he is "good".
I just finished the book last night while returning from Chicago. Your right, once that control is given up and the visionary steps away, bad things happen. These people are driven to have their vision succeed.
In the final anaylsis, I was struck by the idea that Web 2.0 is actually bringing people together. A great feat, considering the idea that computer people just hole themselves up and never see the light of day. That is obviously not true, but it is what many people believe. Last year at NECC, I came away with the anticipation that the ability to collaborate with anyone, anywhere in the world is here now if we will only take the time to use the tools.
Long live Web 2.0! A great book and for whatever it's worth, I highly recommend it. It really is a page turner.
In addition to bringing people together, it also creates a network of knowledge and a path by which to reach it. You no longer have to rely on a textbook, a classroom teacher or friend; you can use web 2.0 tool and the computer and speak directly to the expert. You can collaborate with people from around the world to produce a more creative document that looks at issues from a variety of perspectives that one person may not have considered and still meet deadlines. Most importantly . . . it’s free!
In reflecting on why young people have been able to accomplish so much at such a young age, Mark considered the correlation between young people and breakthroughs. He determined that the young people of his generation were able to achieve because they had not been corrupted with the thoughts of what could not be accomplished. They had not bought into the assumptions that exist in the field; they looked at things differently. In reading this chapter it occurred to me that the reason why school systems have placed such restrictive filters on web 2.0 tools is because they are looking at the web with rose colored glasses. It is so important that school systems began to look at web 2.0 as young people so that web 2.0 resources can be viewed differently and in doing so allow students to experience the type of education that will promote successful competition in a global society. The questions remains, how can we get administrators to look at web 2.0 tools as a young person would?
Everyone. I got this book at Asia ST Summit and so far has been able to read through chapter 1. I agree with Gail's comments that schools can really make a difference in our youth lives if they only realize that technology is a must. As I read the book I realize that whatever I am reading is quite alien in our schools' setup. The kind of education given is very very traditional. There are computer labs but no connectivity. So Web 2.0 is still quite a unique experience for 95% of our youth....you may call that they are digitally exclusive. I wish our schools realise that how these online tools can help our students in todays global economy......when OUR administrators will realize...that is a big question....
Anyway I plan to cotinue and read through as i find all comments in the thread really interesting and compelling
I have just finished Chapter 5. One of the details that struck me was the fact that 48 million people have posted online content. This caused me to reflect on the role of an Intel Trainer. Our goal is to ensure that we help teachers become comfortable with the concept of posting online. I have been in trainings where several participants had NEVER posted online and were very nervous about the concept. The goal of the Essentials course is to help these individuals become more comfortable in posting online. As teachers become more comfortable posting online themselves, it opens them up to the concept of having students share work online as well. In my personal case, my district forbids this form of student online interaction. I have successfully petitioned to run "pilot programs" where students collaborate in password protected "wikis" with schools in other states. At the conclusion of the pilot, I reported the positive, negative experiences I found with the process. The District administrator who approved the pilot is using my information to help formulate a new policy that is more web 2.0 friendly. I hope that within the next year, we will be allowed to have open student sharing in online communities.
I just finished reading Chapter 6 and logged in tonight. I enjoyed reading Yazid's comments regarding positive attitudes. I reflected on how in Chapter 6, despite many negative situations, those directly involved in helping develop new Web 2.0 tools worked to remain positive and/or help someone who was attitude challenged to become positive. I have been working now for 15 days on a 30 day goal to ONLY make positive comments. It began somewhat challenging, but is much easier now. I invite all my Intel Senior Trainer friends to join me on this challenge. It has made a difference in my life and I'm confident you will enjoy the results in your own lives.
I am off to a late start on this book reading. But, this week, I've managed to read about half-way through the book. I am enjoying it. I have used most of the web 2.0 sites discussed in this book, but I've never thought about how these sites were developed, who came up with the ideas, and how they are funded. When I show teachers some web 2.0 tools that are "free", some will ask - how is that possible? is it really free? who runs this site? So, now I have some clearer answers to their questions. I like the drama involved with each person's successes and struggles. It makes for easy reading.
I just discovered last night that there are photographs of everyone on several pages in the middle of the book. I am very visual, so being able to match faces with people's names made their stories more memorable and real. I was also struck by how young they all were - most college kids or even high school kids when they came up with their ideas and formed their own sites or companies.
I liked Marc Andreessen's quote on page 137 on why young people have the best ideas: "As far as I can tell, it's not because those people are particularly brilliant or unusual, it's because you know enough to be able to actually produce something..you have enough of an education and training. But you're so young, you know little about what's been done before. You're not bought into the assumptions that exist in any field. By the time you're thirty-five you start to have a really good understanding of the things that are possible to do and not possible to do. To have a fundamental breakthrough, you have to look at things differently--different from how they've been looked at for the last thirty years. Once you have all that stuff in your head, that's hard."
I also highlighted that quote in my book. If you think about it, young people are naturally inquisitive. Remember the baby that you have to tell not to touch something because it’s hot, not to put things in its mouth or not to wander too far. It is the adults who stifle almost corral as they would animals that desire to explore . . . . to learn what’s lurking on the other side of the fence. It is as though these young men were left alone to explore to wonder about the “what ifs” of the world and then allowed the space undisturbed by adults to solve them. They were competing against themselves and had nothing to lose but pride. As I reached the end of the book, I think my favorite quote was a comment made by Andreessen: “The Internet is neither good nor evil, in and of itself, but people are mostly good, so that makes the Internet mostly good,” . . . the social Internet allows our true selves to come out. This is what we need to communicate to our schools and help them to create opportunities for students to take advantage of all that web 2.0 offers academically!
As I've continued reading this book, I was impressed at how many of the individuals who created Web 2.0 tools had the same drive and passion. Like you, I like how inquisitive they were. A HUGE focus in my classroom is helping students learn that I expect them to ask QUESTIONS. I try to encourage them to not just look for "right" answers but to wonder and want to gain more from the world around them. Many students seem excited when I am willing to say "I don't know" and "Let's try to figure that out" to their questions. I find myself trying to learn more using web 2.0 apps and hope I never lose my inquiring mind.
Looks like lightning can strike twice in the same spot! Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good is the story of entrepreneurs who believed in and never gave up on the dot.com world. They learned lessons from the dot.com bust and have continued on to form innovative profitable Web companies, like Amazon and eBay along with social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Digg.com, Six Apart, and Slide, a web site which helps people customize their virtual image.
Sarah Lacy, a business reporter and the author of this book, chronicles the lives of several inventive dot.com people. Max Levchin, the savvy founder of PayPal, builds a new company called web widget. Kevin Rose produces his social news site called Digg.com. Marc Andreesen, the legendary founder of Netscape, works on his third billion-dollar company. Mark Zuckerberg watches Facebook grow from his dorm room at Harvard into one of the most powerful sites on the Web. Sarah Lacy brings to light the entire Web 2.0 scene illustrating the ups and downs these innovators experienced.
I admire the spirit of these inventors. Their drive and passion lead to great achievements but their successes were made with much sacrifice. Would you be willing to work around the clock non-stop to build a thriving business?