The MicroISV Show interview with Jessica Livingston, author of Founders at Work is now up and even if I hadn’t been one of the interviewers, I’d highly, highly recommend it. Here’s why: Jessica has gone out and person to person interviewed 32 people who were either micro-ISVs or VC funded start ups. These people opened up to her. They told her what, how and why they started their companies. They shared with Jessica their mistakes – and what they learned from those mistakes. There are two of the interviews – Steve Wozniak and Joel Spolsky up at the book’s site.

One incredibly important bit of metadata Jessica extracted from all these interviews (see list below), was the one trait all of the men and women whom she interviewed had: Perseverance. These people did not know how to quit. They overcame obstacle after obstacle to make their dreams come true.

Definitely give the podcast a listen and if you need a big boost of inspiration while you’re making your dream a reality, buy the book.

Interviews in Founders at Work include:

David Heinemeier Hansson
Partner, 37signals and creator of Ruby on Rails

Charles Geschke
Founder of Adobe

Ron Gruner
Founder of Alliant Computer and

Steve Wozniak

Founder of Apple

Philip Greenspun
Founder of ArsDigita

Evan Williams
Founder of and Odeo

Craig Newmark
Founder of Craigslist

Joshua Schachter
Founder of

Joe Kraus
Founder of Excite and JotSpot

Blake Ross
Creator of Firefox

Caterina Fake
Founder of Flickr

Joel Spolsky

Founder of Fog Creek Software

Paul Buchheit
Creator of Gmail

Ray Ozzie
Founder of Groove Networks and Iris Associates

Sabeer Bhatia
Founder of Hotmail

James Hong
Founder of HotorNot

Mitch Kapor
Founder of Lotus

Bob Davis
Founder of Lycos

Arthur van Hoff
Founder of Marimba

Mark Fletcher
Founder of ONElist and Bloglines

Ann Winblad
Founder of Open Systems and Hummer Winblad

Max Levchin
Founder of PayPal

Mike Lazaridis
Founder of Research in Motion

Mena Trott
Founder of Six Apart

Dan Bricklin
Founder of Software Arts and creator of VisiCalc

James Currier
Founder of Tickle

Mike Ramsay
Founder of TiVo

Steve Kaufer
Founder of TripAdvisor

Paul Graham
Founder of Viaweb and Y Combinator

Brewster Kahle
Founder of WAIS, Internet Archive and Alexa Internet

Steve Perlman
Founder of WebTV

Tim Brady
First employee at Yahoo!


  1. Well, they’re in the book because they “persevered” long enough to succeed enough to get in the book. A bit safe; a bit circular (logically speaking); I don’t think that’s a very profound observation, not that I’d disagree.

  2. bobw Reply

    While that’s obviously true, as you read these interviews you can see that in case after case it was perseverance that made the difference: not technical ability, a likable personality, sufficient capitalization (actually, that worked against success), not “connections”, not hard work, not luck.
    Just a refusal – a complete, absolute, from the core refusal – to give up.

  3. stubbornness then? 🙂
    No, perseverence is only something that allows you to survive, not succeed. In fact stubbornness is the doom of someone chasing a dream that won’t work. I would venture that pragmatism is the key. These are people who followed something that worked, and did something with what they had, when they had it; they’re not starry eyed dreamers.

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