business books

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I’ve read a fair number of books about business over the years, especially ones with a tech focus. I find that most of these books are too long, having enough interesting content to maybe fill a magazine article, not a book.

Here are 3 books I think are worth reading in their entirety.

Crossing the Chasm – although a bit too enterprise (vs consumer) focused for my taste, this is an extremely intelligent and useful book. You’ve probably heard about the central thesis (lots of startups get stuck in the “chasm”- in between early adopter and mainstream customers) but there are lots of other juicy anecdotes in the book and it actually prescribes an actionable set of strategies for overcoming the chasm. I’ve reread this one a couple of times. The sequel Inside the Tornado is good too.

Information Rules– “Real economists” talk about the economics of information goods (roughly defined as zero marginal cost goods). Sometimes a bit obvious if you’ve studied economics before but overall a really interesting read. Especially like the parts on different ways to tier pricing for information goods.

Innovators Dilemma – Popularized the (often misused) phrase “disruptive technology.” But there’s a lot more than that one (big) idea. Interesting insights into the “dynamics” (=changes over time) of markets. E.g. Most people just assume markets commoditize over time, as if it’s some unexplainable, irreducible phenomenon. Christensen breaks this down and shows how commoditization is a result of tech supply outpacing tech demand. Interesting corollary to his theory: disruptive technologies always look like “toys” to the powerful incumbents. (Think of mainframe makers talking about PCs, telco’s talking about Skype, etc).

Some other pretty good business books:

Bandwagon Effects – What the author calls “Bandwagon effects” most people call network effects. If you are thinking about starting or investing in a business with network effects, this is the
best (and only good?) book on the topic.

The Entrepreneurs Guide to Business Law – A bit painful if you aren’t into legal details (I’m not), but perhaps the most useful business book you can ever read.

Other good (if totally cliche) recommendations: A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Liars Poker (and anything else by Michael Lewis), Barbarians at the Gate, and Den of Thieves.

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