How Sega almost beat Nintendo - but didn't. A fascinating look at the gaming industry in the '90s.
Hollywood & content
Not strictly Silicon Valley but at the same time crucial to understand Netflix and SaaS models. Malone invented a new business model - and it took years if not decades before the stock market understood his approach of sinking every newly earned dollar into reckless growth. In a way, Malone invented the blueprint for SaaS growth patterns. At the same time, this book shows the tense relationship between content and distribution, as well as regulation and oligopoly.
Today, Reed Hastings is hailed as a business genius and a titan in the industry - it's hard to remember that Netflix started out in 1997 as a DVD rental-by-snailmail company . The most fascinating thing about this book is the inability of Blockbuster to define an answer to a tiny upstart. (Spoiler: the upstart won)
Another time the upstart won: the story of Pixar - or how a small, tech driven studio basically swallowed Disney in the end. Also, Pixar was crucial in re-establishing Steve Job at Apple.
When you've finished Creativity Inc, might as well take a look at the epic fight between Michael Eisner and, well, basically the whole world. See also: Michael Ovitz.
Michael Ovitz and his partners redefined Hollywood with their ultra-aggressive approach to talent agenting: they simply wanted all the top talent. The story of Creative Artists Agency.
You could consider it the sequel to "Powerhouse", written by the protagonist, Michal Ovitz. Ovitz' CAA (Creative Artists Agency) rewrote the rules for talent agencies in the eighties and nineties, becoming a global powerhouse. Ovitz reinvented the business by becoming a packaging house for talent and ideas, and by cornering the talent market, flipping the power structure from the studios and networks to the agents representing the talent.
A revealing look at the process behind pop music. How a couple of Swedish producers redefined the industry.
Contemporary Silicon Valley
Today, Ben Horowitz is known as the man behind Andreessen Horowitz. Back then, he was an entrepreneur trying to keep his startup alive. Read this and you'll understand why Horowitz prefers funding companies to running them.
Already a bit aged in its central thesis ("bad boy Uber vs nice guy Airbnb"), nevertheless a very interesting "neartime" biography of Uber and Airbnb.
Elizabeth Holmes was "the New Steve Jobs" - until she wasn't. The story of Theranos is a cautionary tale about the limits of "fake it till you make it".
How Marc Benioff built Salesforce - autobiography
Another "neartime" biography of an unfolding business legend
Written before the crypto bubble: another neartime biography of a phenomenon
Did Twitter "drive a clown car into a gold mine" as Mark Zuckerberg famously asserted? In any case, the early years of Twitter weren't pretty
Marissa Mayer was a phenomenon: a look at the halo effect
A classic and the reference on professional services
Arthur Gensler is the founder of Gensler, one of the largest architecture and design firms in the world. In the book, he explains the principles of building a lasting culture of excellence for a professional services firm.Business strategy
The word "strategy" is used so often that it became devoid of meaning. Richard Rumelt cuts through the noise and explains, in simple terms and with powerful examples, what strategy is, and what it is not. Recommended for anyone who has to use or hear the word "strategy" in their professional life.
You can't talk about innovation without knowing Clayton Christensen, who coined the term "disruptive innovation" as well as "job to be done", two crucial concepts to contemporary business.
Jim Collins understands how to make data come to life in compelling "just so" stories. Good to great is one of a 5 book series that also includes "Built to last" and "How the Mighty Fall"
A classic for everyone who's interested in the nuts and bolts of industry: how Toyota reinvented manufacturing, and became the biggest auto maker in the world in the process. Impeccably researched, as it is based on a 5 year, 5 million $ MIT study.
Goes great with the story of Toyota and lean: the fight for survival of Detroit, as described through the experience of Alan Mulally who became CEO of Ford Motor Company in 2008. Mulally managed to switch Ford from a supply driven company to a demand driven company, no mean feat - while preaching to his team members to "trust the process".
If you want to understand Silicon Valley and techno-optimism, it's worthwile to look at the thinking of Ramez Naam, one of the brains behind the Singularity University
A collection of New Yorker articles of Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is known as the "Jesus of business writing" (Scott Galloway) and he did write some of the best short form business stories - emphasis on story rather than business. His story on Ron Popeil, the daytime tv sales genius, is a classic - and deservedly so.
Another classic for anyone who wants to understand design
Got any other highly enjoyable business books? Let us know in the comments!