The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World

Author: Brad Stone

This story is brought to you from the same author as The Everything Store, an excellent book about Amazon. With his tech reporter credentials he’s able to get exclusive and deep access to the key players involved in the growth of storied tech companies.

This book’s subjects are Uber and Airbnb, the titans of the so-called sharing economy. I have been following both companies for a while from my perch as a “tech enthusiast”. I also claim fame as an early adopter of Uber in Chicago, having used it a couple times to show off back when it only offered black cars. 🙂

I am glad to report that there was a lot to each company’s founding story that I learned from this book. I now have a much clearer understanding of the players involved in the origin stories, including the founders, competitors, and investors. It was fascinating to learn, and I encourage my fellow technophiles and startup enthusiasts to read this book.

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The bio side of tech. 

Vijay Pande led a16z’s investment in health-tech company BioAge, and uses this post to explain the rationale. They have the ambitious goal of identifying biomarkers for aging in youthful blood. Vijay makes it easy for non-scientists to understand the meaning and implications. learn more

The scale of tech winners. 

When I’m thinking about giant tech companies, it’s easy for me to conflate all the giants together. Ben Evans (a16z) relieves me of this misconception by highlighting the massive scale difference between past tech giants (i.e. IBM and Wintel) and today’s winners (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon). learn more

Tech takes a while. 

Amidst all of the excitement around how things will change because of technology (and they will!), don’t forget that it takes a while. Bill Gates had a famous quote: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” learn more