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Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684848813, Hardcover)Michael Wolff, the author of NetGuide, one of the first major guides to the Net, gives you a tour of this medium that could best be described as "Alice's Adventures Through the Monitor." Burn Rate is the story of Wolff's transition from journalist to entrepreneur in the Internet business--a business in which the investment elite beat down doors to invest vast sums of money in companies whose chief product seemed to be red ink. Wolff reports that what was being bought and sold was not technology, content, or even concepts. It was the potential to be in on something very cool that may one day be sold to somebody else--despite even more red ink.
Wolff's story could easily have been bitter but is instead both fascinating and hilarious. Wolff's money-losing company's negotiations with Magellan--a search-engine company that Wolff eventually discovers is also financially unstable--are comical. The scene where key big shots from a major publisher fall all over Wolff in their eagerness to buy an all-but-worthless name and database are a complete farce. Wolff is by no means above showing his own foibles. Some of the book's best parts are where he shows himself swept up in the intoxicating flow of a deal and calls home to report developments to his wife. She promptly translates the nonsense into sobering reality.
Wolff takes plenty of time off from his personal journey to explore significant events in the development of cyberculture, such as the transition of Louis Rosetto from a least-likely-to-succeed publisher into the creator of the revolutionary Wired magazine. He chronicles the emergence of America Online from dark horse to dominance, while the efforts of companies expected to be major contenders fade into the background.
His candid view shows it all--the oddball characters in expensive shirts and T-shirts, the crazy dealing, the exhilaration, the heartbreak, and the fear. This would be a wonderful work of satirical fiction if it weren't actually true. --Elizabeth Lewis
(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 15 Jan 2013 08:53:14 -0500)
Michael Wolff was one of the first to see the potential of the Internet and one of the pioneers of new media. As he labored to build his own company, Wolff, a former journalist, knew he had stumbled on the seminal business story of the 1990s. Burn Rate is about the heart-in-your-throat struggles of being an entrepreneur. It is about witnessing an industry being born: the founding of Wired magazine, the launch of Time Warner's much-touted Pathfinder, the conflict between content centered on the East Coast and technology on the West Coast, the rise of the search engines, the dominance and dysfunctionality of America Online, and the thud of Microsoft stumbling and falling down on the Net.As Wolff builds his business, you'll get to know the geeks, billionaires, weasels, and, of course, visionaries he meets along the way. Louis Rossetto, the unemployed expat who creates Wired. Walter Isaacson, the prince of Time Warner, who throws the resources of America's largest media company behind the Web. The boy investor, the "dumb money" who backs Wolff's company. Halsey Minor, the executive recruiter who founds a publishing empire on the Net. The CMP boys, the computer magazine publishers who are desperate to get into the Internet game. Robert Maxwell's children, whose high-flying company is one of the first bubbles to burst on the Internet. Even Barry Diller, who advises Wolff that getting in on the ground floor is good only if you're still standing in the end.
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