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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.

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

Critic Reviews

"[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 Ratings

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  • Rick
  • Reno, NV
  • 04-29-14

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!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.<br/>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.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Good book, but not in audio format

Would you try another book from Noam Wasserman and/or Mark Mosely?

Yes, I actually bought the paperback version.

What didn’t you like about Mark Mosely’s performance?

There wasn't anything wrong with the performance, but this book has diagrams and information that is better digested on paper.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • L
  • 02-27-14

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

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  • Jonathan
  • Monmouth Junction, NJ, United States
  • 12-09-12

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • Valkenswaard, Netherlands
  • 11-12-12

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

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Uncovering the Challenges of being a Founder!

Excellent book about the challenges and hardships of building a complete business. Innovators and entrepreneurs need to be recognized for the what ever level of success they achieve. The challenges and obstacles that face a new startup overwhelm most. I believe this is a must book to read for anyone thinking of starting their own business, not to learn how to do it, but to understand how you will be challenged on your journey. This book should not deter you from starting your own business but it will be a lot easier if you are prepared. Solid advice throughout the whole book.

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A must for any entrepreneur

Thoroughly investigates many of the decisions Founders an make in their StartUp. It goes over a variety of different outcomes based on those decisions. It goes through such topics as when to found, whether or not to pick co-founders, whether or not you should get investors, Etc...

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Amazing research done

Noam Wasserman has done an amazing research on the topic startups and it's financial and strategic decisions. However two negative points on this audiobook. There js almost no enjoyable narration in this book and the speaker's intonation on semantically important words is really off and one therefore gets the impression it's a computer animated voice. Besides this I would read it again but it's not easy to grasp.

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Essential

If you're an entrepreneur, you must read this book. No joke. Very insightful and worth your time we've money.

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  • D. J. Wilkinson
  • 07-31-13

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!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-23-12

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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  • Lisa
  • 05-22-16

Very useful when starting a startup

Pleasant narrator, easy to follow. Clear and precise illustration of connections and pitfalls of the various decisions startup founders have to take.

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  • Mustafa
  • 08-30-15

Great content poor and too fast reading

The content is outstanding and is essential to every new founder, but the reader is too fast and his voice doesn't keep you engaged.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 10-30-17

Well researched, quality content, strong lessons

Well presented facts to challenge any budding or seasoned entrepreneurs to consider and dialogue about to achieve the best decisions for the best win/win results.

Being a huge Jim Collins fan, I saw parallels in style and strong research based material. The real life stories were great.

I'm sure it's not easy to do but I think at times I found some of the storytelling jump around too much from example to example where I had difficulty connecting to the lesson for those stories. Refining into larger overarching principles and sticking with examples from companies for longer to embellishI think would have had even greater and simpler learning and retention. All I all though it was still very good.