Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution
By Fred Vogelstein
Sarah Crichton Books, 2013, 272 pp.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
By Brad Stone
Little, Brown and Company, 2013, 384 pp.
Amazon, Apple, and Google are three firms that have helped define the early twenty-first century. All three are smashingly successful thanks to the Internet, whose value they contributed to developing. All three U.S.-based start-ups hardly existed (or did not exist at all) 25 years ago but have now joined the ranks of the world’s most highly valued firms. These easy-to-read books, written by accomplished and well-informed journalists, recount the companies’ origins, their evolutions, their rivalries, and their dependence on the visions and persistence of their founders, all of whom represent distinctive styles of leadership. The books also offer tribute to the many other people who contributed to the companies’ success and who typically became wealthy by working hard and by occasionally funding what began as highly uncertain ventures. The founders relied on quite different business models in the three cases, but they all pursued goals other than mere profitability, such as usefulness, beauty, and customer satisfaction. They were not inventors but rather innovators who were not bound by business conventions. It is worth remembering that people write books such as these about successful enterprises and not about the hundreds of similar efforts that did not succeed. But these success stories nevertheless provide encouragement to new efforts.