Do you have recommendations for books on unsuccessful startups?


There are thousands of books out there that tell us about all kinds of successful and inspiring companies, and why they are successful.

But what about promising companies that failed in the first two years, and why they failed?

Do you have recommendations on good books dedicated to failures?


asked Jun 20 '11 at 11:49
Heavy Wave
111 points
  • +1 I learn the most from my own failures -- and would love to learn from others! Let me know if you find -- or choose to write this book! – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago

9 Answers


While you wait for the book here are some reaousrces you might like:

From Paul Graham one of the co-founders of Y-Combinator there is this great essay: The 18 mistakes that kill a Start-up.

I have this essay by Steve Spalding bookmarked since 2007 and reference it a lot: How to ensure your start-up will fail.

answered Jun 20 '11 at 12:56
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points


The classic book on a software failure is the one done about Netscape. "Competing on Internet Time" is an amazing inside look at why Netscape failed in its battle with Microsoft.

I tremendously enjoyed this book and learned a lot about what can be done wrong from it.

answered Jun 20 '11 at 13:41
1,471 points


How about "In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters" Is on Joels 'product manager reading list' I believe - basic premise is that nearly all hi-tech/software companies fail because they do something very very stupid. If you look at Microsoft they have a lot of head slapping moments, but have done nothing catastrophically stupid.

answered Jun 23 '11 at 23:34
1,365 points


The movie has some good insights about reasons businesses fail too. I highly recommend this documentary.

answered Jun 20 '11 at 21:40
Susan Jones
4,128 points
  • What I got from was that they seemed to be much more focused on getting more and more funding than on producing a product that worked and was useful. – Alex Aotea Studios 12 years ago


Check these books out :

The most important is just follow your heart. Get Things Done!

answered Jun 23 '11 at 12:30
245 points
  • Please use long links (not affiliated) and not short ones. – Ross 12 years ago


One of the most popular books describing a failed startup is... "Startup " by Jerry Kaplan. It tells the story of the first pen PDA, competing with Apple and Microsoft, and ultimately failing with all kinds of boardroom drama.

answered Jun 20 '11 at 18:13
Alain Raynaud
10,927 points

answered Jun 20 '11 at 19:51
561 points
  • Boo Hoo is awesome. Almost reads like a thriller. – Susan Jones 12 years ago


f&*cked company? it started as a blog then became a book I believe

answered Jun 21 '11 at 10:23
Steve Krzysiak
1 point


I read this book a few years ago and learned so much from it. It's a great read!

answered Jun 21 '11 at 12:01
M Harrison
63 points
  • I liked this book too. It shows that even with funding there's plenty of ways to fail. – Alex Aotea Studios 12 years ago

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