The classic account of the early days of tech, named one of the 10 best business books of the year by Business Week: “Riveting, wry, and often wise.”—The Washington Post
Jerry Kaplan had a dream: he would redefine the known universe (and get very rich) by creating a new kind of computer. All he needed was sixty million dollars, a few hundred employees, and a maniacal belief in his ability to win the Silicon Valley startup game.
Kaplan, a well-known figure in the computer industry, founded GO Corporation in 1987, and for several years it was one of the hottest new ventures in the Valley. Startup tells the story of Kaplan's wild ride: how he assembled a brilliant but fractious team of engineers, software designers, and investors; pioneered the emerging market for hand-held computers operated with a pen instead of a keyboard; and careened from crisis to crisis without ever losing his passion for his revolutionary idea. Along the way, Kaplan vividly recreates his encounters with eccentric employees, risk-addicted venture capitalists, and industry giants such as Bill Gates and John Sculley. And no one—including Kaplan himself—is spared his sharp wit.
“What separates Kaplan’s tale from other start-up stories is the insight he provides about dealing with two of America's largest computer companies—IBM and Microsoft…Readers interested in entrepreneurial adventurism will find Kaplan’s tale entertaining.”—Publishers Weekly
“Kaplan tells it with novelistic style replete with races against the clock and sharp character sketches…An insider's well-written story of the death of a new machine.”—Kirkus Reviews
Kaplan founded GO Corp. in 1987 to develop a pen-based portable computer. He lost control of the company to an investor group that included AT&T in late 1993 after spending nearly $75 million in a failed effort to create a marketable product, and GO's successor company was closed down by AT&T in July 1994. What separates Kaplan's tale from other start-up stories is the insight he provides about dealing with two of America's largest computer companies--IBM and Microsoft. Kaplan negotiated with layers of IBM bureaucracy to get the company to invest tens of millions of dollars in GO, and yet with the downsizing that rocked IBM, Kaplan doubted whether anyone remaining at IBM knew or cared about its GO involvement. GO's relationship with Microsoft evolved from a potential partnership to a fierce competition. As the two companies became more competitive, the pressure Microsoft exerted on the industry to support its own pen-based efforts over those of GO makes one think that federal judge Stanley Sporkin is right in trying to reopen the antitrust investigation of the software powerhouse. Readers interested in entrepreneurial adventurism will find Kaplan's tale entertaining, but the book will appeal most to those familiar with the computer industry.