‘Company of One’ Book Notes

Originally a designer focussed on consulting, Paul Jarvis has written five books (including 'Company of One'), sold digital courses, and co-founded Fathom Analytics, a privacy-focused Google Analytics Alternative. His contrarian philosophy of purposefully staying small and questioning the conventional wisdom of building a big business empire has shaped Paul's long, successful, and personally meaningful career. In 'Company of One,' Paul shares the ideas behind his choosing this alternate path in business, and more broadly, in life -- a mindful approach based on designing work around life, not the other way around. Note: 'Company of One' contains 13 chapters but the book...

Slack’s Growth Story & Business Model

"I have never seen viral enterprise app takeoff like this before — all word of mouth," tweeted March Andresson in February 2014, six months after Slack launched in preview mode in August 2013. The tweet accompanied a slide from Slack's investor update deck. Slack is an embodiment of Silicon Valley's dream growth trajectory. On the first day of its preview launch itself, 8000 people requested an invitation to try out Slack. Two weeks later, the number had more than doubled to 15000.  In Feb 2014, when Slack dropped the preview and launched officially, around 16000 users were using the service daily. By the end...

Discord’s Founding Story & Business Model

Discord is a classic example of building a product to cater to a specific audience segment, only to find out other audiences you weren't initially targeting, finding value in your product, and using it. And so much so that, five years later, after its launch in early 2015, the discord team let go of its original identity, deciding to embrace the direction they were pulled into by users. Jason Citron & Stan Vishnevskiy, gamers themselves, originally built Discord for gamers. A typical user would be someone who played video games a lot, and while they were at it, used Discord to talk to...

‘The Everything Store’ Book Notes

Acclaimed Silicon Valley Journalist Brad Stone has been covering Amazon since its early days. "The Everything Store," is a result of Stone drawing upon his writing experience and interviewing numerous Amazon executives, with the blessings of Jeff Bezos. The book provides a comprehensive account of Amazon's growth from its 1996 inception until 2013, the year of publishing. Reading the book was fruitful because it gave me a window into Amazon's way of thinking & helped me understand Amazon's complex business by breaking it down into distinct components. I've structured my book notes such that they should do the same for...

Shopify’s Founding Story, Evolution & Business Model

If we look at it from a narrows lens, Shopify is in the business of making it easier for people without coding skills to launch an online business. But if we zoom out, we could classify Shopify as an upstart in the broader retail market.  Yes, it is primarily in the business of internet retailing. But retail is not limited to the internet. Selling online is a sister distribution channel to the traditional offline channel. The whole point of commerce is to be present where the customer is, be it online or offline, or both, in an integrated fashion.  Shopify now...

‘On Writing Well’ Book Notes

Before I briefly explain the note-taking process, I want to take a few sentences to introduce William Zinsser, the author of 'On Writing Well.'  A lifelong nonfiction writer, William began his career as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune in 1946. In the 1970s, he taught a writing class at Yale University. He also wrote 18 books in a writing career spanning more than half a century. First published in 1976, 'On Writing Well' is widely regarded as his best work. To date, it has served as the canonical writing book for three generations of writers, journalists, & editors.  In...

Shape Up Book Notes

Book summaries and book notes are often conflated. So, to be explicit, what follow are notes from 'Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles & Ship Work that Matters.' I read the book & highlighted the key ideas to create a distilled yet detailed version of the subject matter. Whether you're looking to gauge if the full book is worth your time or want to revisit ideas you've already read, my notes should come in handy. Book Notes of ‘Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles & Ship Work that Matters’ by ‘Ryan Singer’. Chapter 1: Introduction This book isn’t about the risk of building...

Honey’s Founding Story + Business Model + Paypal Acquisition

In 2012, the same year, when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion, Honey, which was acquired for $4 billion by Paypal in 2019, launched as a Chrome browser extension. Generally, browser extensions function as a growth channel for an existing product made by the developers of the products themselves or as 2nd order inventions made on top of existing products, made by enthusiastic users. Amazon's official Kindle extension is an example of the former, and Send to Kindle, an unofficial extension made by a third party organization, is an example of the latter.  Browser extensions are rarely considered an individual business or the primary means to...

FireFox’s Rise, Fall, & Resurgence + How Firefox Makes Money

Over the last three decades, we have been through two browser wars, and we are likely on the cusp of the third one.  The first browser war ended with Microsoft's Internet Explorer defeating Netscape Navigator, becoming the market leader in 1998. The second browser war ended with Google Chrome dethroning Internet Explorer, becoming the market leader in 2012.  A key player of the second browser war, Firefox's browser market share peaked at 32.21% at the end of 2009.   As of August 2020, Firefox has a market share of 4.09%, coming in third after Chrome and Safari. With a market share of 65.99% & 16.82%, Google Chrome and...

Product Hunt’s Growth Story + Business Model

"Product Hunt surfaces the best new products, every day. It's a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations" If you work in technology and don't keep a daily tab of Product Hunt, one could argue that you're missing out on relevant insider information.  In some ways, Product Hunt is like Techcrunch, except it surfaces new tech products instead of new tech stories.  Tech enthusiasts use it to stay in the know. Emerging startups list themselves to get in front of the people that matter. Investors use it to scour investment...

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