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The Founder’s Dilemmas | [Noam Wasserman]

The Founder’s Dilemmas

Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: should they go it alone, or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising venture lay the foundations for its eventual ruin.
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Publisher's Summary

Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: should they go it alone, or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising venture lay the foundations for its eventual ruin. The Founder's Dilemmas is the first book to examine the early decisions by entrepreneurs that can make or break a startup and its team.

Drawing on a decade of research, Noam Wasserman reveals the common pitfalls founders face and how to avoid them. He looks at whether it is a good idea to cofound with friends or relatives, how and when to split the equity within the founding team, and how to recognize when a successful founder-CEO should exit or be fired. Wasserman explains how to anticipate, avoid, or recover from disastrous mistakes that can splinter a founding team, strip founders of control, and leave founders without a financial payoff for their hard work and innovative ideas. He highlights the need at each step to strike a careful balance between controlling the startup and attracting the best resources to grow it, and demonstrates why the easy short-term choice is often the most perilous in the long term.

The Founder's Dilemmas draws on the inside stories of founders like Evan Williams of Twitter and Tim Westergren of Pandora, while mining quantitative data on almost 10,000 founders. People problems are the leading cause of failure in startups. This book offers solutions.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2012 Princeton University Press (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[A] seminal work.... Sure to be required reading in business school curricula, this illuminating and captivating read will also appeal to aspiring entrepreneurs or founders who want to make better decisions in existing ventures." (Publishers Weekly)

"Ten years of extensive research combined with winning case studies make this a trustworthy source not only for the potential startup owner but also for the classroom." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (87 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rick Reno, NV 04-29-14
    Rick Reno, NV 04-29-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An important FACT based book on entrepeneurship"
    Would you listen to The Founder’s Dilemmas again? Why?

    Yes, I will refer to the book often as it is full of interesting facts and figures


    What did you like best about this story?

    I appreciated the research based findings.


    What does Mark Mosely bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Honestly, this might be a better book to read in print and refer back too, but it was an entertaining, easy listen in the car too


    Any additional comments?

    So many entrepreneurship books are just stories and anecdotes, this one is actually based on the findings of research. It's really fascinating!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L New York, NY, United States 02-27-14
    L New York, NY, United States 02-27-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Stating the obvious, backed up by statistics"

    Probably worthwhile to refresh your mind on things to think about, but it's basically a restatement of common sense, backed up by great statistics. Here's the entire book in a nutshell: 1) founders' motivations fall on a spectrum between control (being king) and cash (making money). Decide where you are on the spectrum and act and make busienss decisions consistently with that. Inconsistency in implementation of that can damage you. 2) mixing business and personal relationships is fraught with danger. Work with people who you've worked with, not your family or friends.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Monmouth Junction, NJ, United States 12-09-12
    Jonathan Monmouth Junction, NJ, United States 12-09-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Story is not bad but bad performance"
    What did you like best about The Founder’s Dilemmas? What did you like least?

    It was very informative however, for an audio book to rely on charts and graphs is kind of tough. The material is very good and has some insights that are useful, overall the content is not too bad, it is very all over the place but not a bad book.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Mark Mosely’s performances?

    I thought it was awful, it was like listening to hours of an overly dramatic movie trailer actor. I was barley able to make it through with the way the narrator, I would never buy another book by this narrator it was just too cheesy it was overly dramatic for the context and painful to listen to.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Valkenswaard, Netherlands 11-12-12
    Chris Valkenswaard, Netherlands 11-12-12 Member Since 2010

    Internet entrepreneur from the Netherlands.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very chaotic style of writing and presenting"

    The subject of this book is very fascinating and I really want to know, but the way this book is written is pretty chaotic. You can sense that it is written by a researcher-type writer who wants to beat you to death with facts. He uses a lot of other people as examples, but in a way that he constantly switches between characters so you quickly get lost.

    The narrator, though he uses a lot of intonation in his voice, sounds a little like a news anchor which, in combination with the detailed level of information and chaotic writing style, makes you tune out time and again. It requires a lot of effort to stay focused on listening and understanding the point. That makes it unsuitable to listen to in the car in my opinion, which is the whole reason for me to listen to audio book versions instead of reading.

    But if you listen to it behind your desk and take notes, it might work.

    I do recommend reading or listening to this book, because of the topic it adresses, but you must be really focused all the time to understand it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stanley Tan 10-02-14
    Stanley Tan 10-02-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Too much talk on the data"
    What was most disappointing about Noam Wasserman’s story?

    Before buying I was excited that Noam has gather data from 1000s of businesses but after completing the book, the book was more towards sharing and talking about the data instead of using those data to create insights and actionable knowledge for the listeners.
    Oh... and if you're a listener on the go, its better if you get the a book instead of an audiobook for Founder's Dilemma because this book will point you to a graph instead of explaining to you the graph. (e.g: Here is what 27% of the companies did that the others didn't do. Refer to graph 10.1)


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Mark Mosely?

    Mark could have added more emphasis into his tones at different points of the book. There wasn't any feeling in his reading. It's like the tone is same when the founder's company went bankrupt and when the founder's company went IPO.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointed because there was too much sharing of the data instead of giving the listeners actionable knowledge to the data.


    Any additional comments?

    If you want a great book which applies the author's insights from his data research + a narrator's tone which emphasis key points on the books, get Great by Choice by Jim Collins.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Wetherill Park, Australia 01-29-14
    Patrick Wetherill Park, Australia 01-29-14 Member Since 2013

    I'm a web developer from Sydney, Australia who loves every opportunity to learn something new. Audible is perfect for this!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Maybe a good book to read but not to listen to?"
    Would you try another book from Noam Wasserman and/or Mark Mosely?

    I'd definitely think twice about it (that sounds harsher than I mean it to but I can't think of how to reword it).


    Would you be willing to try another book from Noam Wasserman? Why or why not?

    Maybe not so much as an audio book. I feel that the content of this book didn't suit an audio book style reading of it. Felt quite dry and drawn out... was a struggle for me to listen to the end (but did so as it was a book recommended very strongly to me by others in the startup community). I think in the end it really wasn't a book suited to being narrated? Otherwise I'm not sure what it could have been :/


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    I'm not sure really! He read it clearly and quite well. I just found the content a bit dull to listen to.


    Do you think The Founder’s Dilemmas needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    There are a lot of questions that require further research, things they still don't know. I'd like to see the stats for things a few years later to see how findings are holding up.


    Any additional comments?

    I'd recommend getting a physical copy. More of a book to skim read and visually see than one to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • David
    Upper Heyford, United Kingdom
    7/31/13
    Overall
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    Story
    "Vital and interesting but..."

    Really interesting base material and research into the problems and issues faced by founders and entrepreneurs. Based on wide-ranging research there is a lot of useful information for entrepreneurs and founders. This book should be a No.1 blockbuster book, but it isn't.
    The problem is that is that the writing and narration is so boring it is a real struggle to get the gems contained in the book out. I had to listen to it in small chunks otherwise I realise I just zoned the drone out. A lesson in how to turn interesting and vital research material into boring and unappealing drudgery. I had lecturers like this!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Epping, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "An Invaluable Resource"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Its mixture of hard data analysis and case studies allows you to take in the information and see how ito interpret it when faced with your own dilemmas. I particularly liked the discussion around how to hedge against the possible downside that comes with certain choices. A must for anyone wanting to start their own business.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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