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Publisher's Summary

This audiobook is the improbable and exhilarating story of the rise of Snapchat from a frat boy fantasy to a multi-billion dollar internet unicorn that has dramatically changed the way we communicate.

In 2013 Evan Spiegel, the brash CEO of the social network Snapchat, and his co-founder Bobby Murphy stunned the press when they walked away from a three-billion-dollar offer from Facebook: how could an app teenagers use to text dirty photos dream of a higher valuation? Was this hubris, or genius? In How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars, tech journalist Billy Gallagher takes us inside the rise of one of Silicon Valley's hottest start-ups. 

Snapchat began as a late-night dorm room revelation, the brainchild of Stanford English major Reggie Brown who was nursing regrets about photos he had sent. After an epic feud between best friends, Brown lost the company to Spiegel, who has gone on to make a name for himself as a visionary - if ruthless - CEO worth billions, linked to celebrities like Taylor Swift and his fiancée, Miranda Kerr.

A fellow Stanford undergrad and fraternity brother of the company's founding trio, Gallagher has covered Snapchat from the start. He brings unique access to a company Bloomberg Business called "a cipher in the Silicon Valley technology community."

Gallagher offers insight into challenges Snapchat faces as it transitions from a playful app to one of the tech industry's preeminent public companies. In the tradition of great business narratives, How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars offers the definitive account of a company whose goal is no less than to remake the future of entertainment. 

©2018 William Gallagher (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good start, bland finish, hero worship abound

I have to echo the sentiments of another reviewer from Amazon, the book starts of decent and devolves into hero worship pretty quickly. It also feels like the author lacked material for an entire book, so the back half was meandering without much depth.

There are also a couple of other things I didn't love about the book. First, the writing is rather pedestrian. It really feels like Billy Gallagher isn't a seasoned writer. That's not to say it's bad, just basic.

The bigger issue I had is the one I often have with audio books: the author choosing to narrate. I understand the desire to have a youthful voice given the notion that Snapchat the product is targeted towards a younger demographic. But a book about Snapchat the business isn't necessarily the same target. Billy's voice and style just doesn't hold up to an entire book. I'll never understand why writers opt for themselves as narrators of audio books if they aren't seasoned orators.

I consume start up books like oxygen. And this one wasn't bad. It's a solid C+ in my opinion. But I couldn't get past the lack of 2nd half depth and fanboyism to fully enjoy it. I'd still recommend it, but I'd do so with the previously mentioned notes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • RICH D
  • Boston, MA USA
  • 02-24-18

Informative Book -- Could not stop listening

Any additional comments?

I had a somewhat negative connotation of Snapchat and its founder because I only knew what I had read in the major stories about the company over the past several years. This book objectively goes from the very beginnings of the company through to mid-2017. The author went to school with the founder so he seemed to have access to common friends who work(ed) at the company to use as sources.The book is similar to the Hatching Twitter book, but I liked this one better because it was read by the author. The other book was read by someone who did different voices for everyone, which is distracting.In a way, this book reminded me of a Malcolm Gladwell book. Which is a great thing. There were many parts where it had "In order to fully understand x, it is necessary to go back and look at y". And we ended up with interesting backstories of related companies and trends and even a pretty thorough rise and fall story about a company called "Clinkle".The other good thing about the author's narration is he talks so fast that I didn't have to up the playback speed to 1.25x. This would probably be a 10+ hour book read by a professional reader.Highly recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • R
  • 09-22-18

disappointing

Read the snapchat wikipedia page and youll save much time. there was nothing interesting or new in this book. Incredibly bland. Keeps promoting Evan's "greatness'

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Good story, terrible narration and author.

This is a good book that tells an interesting and inspiring story, but it's ruined by the narration from the author.

It basically sounds like a 13 year old with braces is standing in front of a class, reading a book to everyone.
The performance is really distracting and pulls you out of the story, making it hard to listen to.

Lastly, It's really hard to ignore the embedded advertisements and promotion of "Flurry, the mobile app analytics platform" that the author mentions no less than a dozen times by name and description. I don't know if this is a new thing in books that I'm not aware of, but it's terrible and has no place in this or any other book.

All in all, there is a good story here, just needs to be written and performed by someone, anyone other than the author.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Bad narration

Really wish they had gone with a professional narrator for this. I really wanted to get into the story, but the reading tone and pace makes engagement impossible. Read the book instead, skip the Audible version.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Snappy Senses

Billy does a phenomenal job of portraying Evan as such a key component of the Snap brand. Really gives an “Ave snap user” an inside look at what the potential is like for Snap and how others view Snap.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not a very enlightening book, but fun to listen.

The author gives a overview of the life of the founders, and their journey, but not to deep. Not near the quality of the social network movie. I don't think is worth the investment, but is best then listening to some podcast.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Extraordinary story worthy of multiple listens!

What made the experience of listening to How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars the most enjoyable?

The author is fantastic at describing the surroundings with enough detail to paint the image. However, he's not too verbose, so it's easy to be engaged and get caught up in his story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars?

The build-up of tension among the founders over their first summer -- some very tense moments.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

This was my only issue. The narrator (I think it was the author himself) should've had someone else do the read. At times (especially when describing an apps user-interface that I've never seen) the narrator was just reading too fast so words were blending together and I had to rewind to understand him. I'd advise him to listen to the narration style of Jonathan Todd Ross for his future books (I really hope he writes another - I'm 100% in, no matter what subject matter)

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Ideas are worthless but execution is priceless