Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry

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In 2009, BlackBerry controlled half of the smartphone market. Today that number is one percent. What went so wrong?

Losing the Signal is a riveting story of a company that toppled global giants before succumbing to the ruthlessly competitive forces of Silicon Valley. This is not a conventional tale of modern business failure by fraud and greed. The rise and fall of BlackBerry reveals the dangerous speed at which innovators race along the information superhighway.

With unprecedented access to key players, senior executives, directors and competitors, Losing the Signal unveils the remarkable rise of a company that started above a bagel store in Ontario. At the heart of the story is an unlikely partnership between a visionary engineer, Mike Lazaridis, and an abrasive Harvard Business school grad, Jim Balsillie. Together, they engineered a pioneering pocket email device that became the tool of choice for presidents and CEOs. The partnership enjoyed only a brief moment on top of the world, however. At the very moment BlackBerry was ranked the world's fastest growing company internal feuds and chaotic growth crippled the company as it faced its gravest test: Apple and Google's entry in to mobile phones.

Expertly told by acclaimed journalists, Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, this is an entertaining, whirlwind narrative that goes behind the scenes to reveal one of the most compelling business stories of the new century.

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About the author

JACQUIE MCNISH is a senior writer with the Globe and Mail and before that
the Wall Street Journal. She has won seven National Newspaper Awards and is
the author of three best-selling books, two of which won the National
Business Book award. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons.

SEAN SILCOFF is a business writer with the Globe and Mail and a two-time
National Newspaper Award winner. He lives near Ottawa with his wife and
three children.

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4.5
14 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Flatiron Books
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Published on
May 26, 2015
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781250060181
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Corporate & Business History
Business & Economics / Industries / Computers & Information Technology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Number of teams that applied to Y Combinator’s summer 2011 batch: 2,089

Teams interviewed: 170

Minutes per interview: 10

Teams accepted and funded: 64

Months to build a viable startup: 3

Possibilities: BOUNDLESS

Investment firm Y Combinator is the most sought-after home for startups in Silicon Valley. Twice a year, it funds dozens of just-founded startups and provides three months of guid­ance from Paul Graham, YC’s impresario, and his partners, also entrepreneurs and mostly YC alumni. The list of YC-funded success stories includes Dropbox (now valued at $5 billion) and Airbnb ($1.3 billion).

Receiving an offer from YC creates the oppor­tunity of a lifetime — it’s like American Idol for budding entrepreneurs.

Acclaimed journalist Randall Stross was granted unprecedented access to Y Combinator’s summer 2011 batch of young companies, offering a unique inside tour of the world of software startups. Most of the founders were male programmers in their mid-twenties or younger. Over the course of the summer, they scrambled to heed Graham’s seemingly simple advice: make something people want.

We watch the founders work round-the-clock, developing and retooling products as diverse as a Web site that can teach anyone program­ming, to a Wikipedia-like site for rap lyrics, to software written by a pair of attorneys who seek to “make attorneys obsolete.”

Founders are guided by Graham’s notoriously direct form of tough-love feedback. “Here, we don’t fire you,” he says. “The market fires you. If you’re sucking, I’m not going to run along behind you, saying, ‘You’re sucking, you’re suck­ing, c’mon, stop sucking.’” Some teams would even abandon their initial idea midsummer and scramble to begin anew.

The program culminated in “Demo Day,” when founders pitched their startup to sev­eral hundred top angel investors and venture capitalists. A lucky few attracted capital that gave their startup a valuation of multiple millions of dollars. Others went back to the drawing board.

This is the definitive story of a seismic shift that’s occurred in the business world, in which coding skill trumps employment experience, pairs of undergraduates confidently take on Goliaths, tiny startups working out of an apart­ment scale fast, and investors fall in love.

In your pocket is something amazing: a quick and easy way to summon a total stranger who will take you anywhere you’d like. In your hands is something equally amazing: the untold story of Uber’s meteoric rise, and the massive ambitions of its larger-than-life founder and CEO.

Before Travis Kalanick became famous as the public face of Uber, he was a scrappy, rough-edged, loose-lipped entrepreneur. And even after taking Uber from the germ of an idea to a $69 billion global transportation behemoth, he still describes his company as a start-up. Like other Silicon Valley icons such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, he’s always focused on the next disruptive innovation and the next world to conquer.

Both Uber and Kalanick have acquired a reputation for being combative, relentless, and iron-fisted against competitors. They’ve inspired both admiration and loathing as they’ve flouted government regulators, thrown the taxi industry into a tailspin, and stirred controversy over possible exploitation of drivers. They’ve even reshaped the deeply ingrained consumer behavior of not accepting a ride from a stranger—against the childhood warnings from everyone’s parents.

Wild Ride is the first truly inside look at Uber’s global empire. Veteran journalist Adam Lashinsky, the bestselling author of Inside Apple, traces the origins of Kalanick’s massive ambitions in his humble roots, and he explores Uber’s murky beginnings and the wild ride of its rapid growth and expansion into different industries.

Lashinsky draws on exclusive, in-depth interviews with Kalanick and many other sources who share new details about Uber’s internal and external power struggles. He also examines its doomed venture into China and the furtive fight between Kalanick and his competitors at Google, Tesla, Lyft, and GM over self-driving cars. Lashinsky even got behind the wheel as an Uber driver himself to learn what it’s really like.

Uber has made headlines thanks to its eye-popping valuations and swift expansion around the world. But this book is the first account of how Uber really became the giant it is today, and how it plans to conquer the future.

From small-town Kansas boy to adventure-junkie extraordinaire to respected mountaineer, this funky and funny read traces Skip Yowell's (Co-Founder of JanSport) unorthodox journey to the top of the outdoor industry.

Full of offbeat details and photos from Skip's adventures around the world, he lets it all hang out as he offers you a rare behind-the-scenes look at the three hippies who built a successful company during the Summer of Love . . . how their good vibrations continue to change an entire industry . . . and why breaking the rules and taking good care of their customers keeps JanSport at the top of their game.

No question, Skip's story will take you higher. He'll show you the ropes for whatever mountain you face. Whether he's drinking "Commie beer" in Ohio or slurping yak butter tea in China, this book will get under your skin and into your heart. And who knows, his story might just kick-start your dreams.

So go ahead. Get the book (and another for your friend). Find a chair or couch or park or plane. Get comfortable. Be inspired. Then go climb your own mountain.

"Skip's account of the founding of JanSport wreaks of honesty, humor, and enough anecdotes to stir a memory in almost anyone who has spent time outside. His tale takes you from a small room above a transmission shop to a global enterprise and packs enough adventures to keep the fire stoked and the beer on ice for hours." ?Larry Burke, Editor-in-Chief, Outside Magazine

"This amazing book chronicles the life of Skip Yowell, a man who climbed the corporate ladder not in a suit and tie, but in hiking boots and with a backpack. He did so in style, and had tons of fun doing it. He stayed true to himself, maintained friendships, traveled the world and most importantly, preserved his passion for his job.... We can all learn something from Skip, who started building backpacks from scratch and created a company that is now a giant in the industry. His honesty and passion for life are his priority, which all of his friends and business associates can attest to. The world would be a better place with more people like Skip Yowell. I am proud to have him as my friend and encourage you to get to know his story! You will be inspired." ?Ed Viesturs, First American to climb all fourteen 8,000 meter peaks, Author of No Shortcuts to the Top

"I wish this enlightening book had been available 30 years ago. The inspiration I have derived from it now would have been welcomed then. Like a new band without a 'label' (either style or record company), with originality and dedication it shows how JanSport forged their own way and set the high marks for others to strive for. This 'how it was done' book should be read by all aspiring musicians, for the principles of success are universal and are defined within." ?John McEuen, Founding Member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

"Straight Talk for Startups memorializes age-old best practices and empowers both experienced and new investment professionals to beat the odds."—David Krane, CEO, Google Ventures

"Straight Talk for Startups is filled with real, raw, and fact-based ‘rules of the road’ that you need to know when diving into our ultra-competitive startup world. A must read and a re-read!"—Tony Fadell, Coinventor of the iPod/iPhone & Founder of Nest Labs

Veteran venture capitalist Randy Komisar and finance executive Jantoon Reigersman share no-nonsense, counterintuitive guidelines to help anyone build a successful startup.

Over the course of their careers, Randy Komisar and Jantoon Reigersman continue to see startups crash and burn because they forget the timeless lessons of entrepreneurship.

But, as Komisar and Reigersman show, you can beat the odds if you quickly learn what insiders know about what it takes to build a healthy foundation for a thriving venture. In Straight Talk for Startups they walk budding entrepreneurs through 100 essential rules—from pitching your idea to selecting investors to managing your board to deciding how and when to achieve liquidity. Culled from their own decades of experience, as well as the experiences of their many successful colleagues and friends, the rules are organized under broad topics, from "Mastering the Fundamentals" and "Selecting the Right Investors," to "The Ideal Fundraise," "Building and Managing Effective Boards," and "Achieving Liquidity."

Vital rules you’ll find in Straight Talk for Startups include:

The best ideas originate from founders who are usersCreate two business plans: an execution plan and an aspirational planNet income is an option, but cash flow is a factDon’t accept money from strangersPersonal wealth doesn’t equal good investingSmall boards are better than big onesAdd independent board members for expertise and objectivityToo many unanimous board decisions are a sign of troubleChoose an acquirer, don’t wait to be chosenLearn the rules by heart so you know when to break them

Filled with helpful real-life examples and specific, actionable advice, Straight Talk for Startups is the ideal handbook for anyone running, working for, or thinking about creating a startup, or just curious about what makes high-potential ventures tick.

In just a decade and half Jack Ma, a man who rose from humble beginnings and started his career as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into the second largest Internet company in the world. The company’s $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the world’s largest, valuing the company more than Facebook or Coca Cola. Alibaba today runs the e-commerce services that hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend on every day, providing employment and income for tens of millions more. A Rockefeller of his age, Jack has become an icon for the country’s booming private sector, and as the face of the new, consumerist China is courted by heads of state and CEOs from around the world.

Granted unprecedented access to a wealth of new material including exclusive interviews, Clark draws on his own first-hand experience of key figures integral to Alibaba’s rise to create an authoritative, compelling narrative account of how Alibaba and its charismatic creator have transformed the way that Chinese exercise their new found economic freedom, inspiring entrepreneurs around the world and infuriating others, turning the tables on the Silicon Valley giants who have tried to stand in his way.

Duncan explores vital questions about the company’s past, present, and future: How, from such unremarkable origins, did Jack Ma build Alibaba? What explains his relentless drive and his ability to outsmart his competitors? With over 80% of China’s e-commerce market, how long can the company hope to maintain its dominance? As the company sets its sights on the country’s financial and media markets, are there limits to Alibaba’s ambitions, or will the Chinese government act to curtail them? And as it set up shop from LA and San Francisco to Seattle, how will Alibaba grow its presence and investments in the US and other international markets?

Clark tells Alibaba’s tale within the wider story of China’s economic explosion—the rise of the private sector and the expansion of Internet usage—that haver powered the country’s rise to become the world’s second largest economy and largest Internet population, twice the size of the United States. He also explores the political and social context for these momentous changes. An expert insider with unrivaled connections, Clark has a deep understanding of Chinese business mindset. He illuminates an unlikely corporate titan as never before, and examines the key role his company has played in transforming China while increasing its power and presence worldwide.
Finalist for the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, and the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year

One of Billboard’s 100 Greatest Music Books of All Time

A New York Times Editors’ Choice

ONE OF THE YEAR'S BEST BOOKS: The Washington Post • The Financial Times • Slate • The Atlantic • Time • Forbes

“[How Music Got Free] has the clear writing and brisk reportorial acumen of a Michael Lewis book.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?

How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store. 

Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet.

Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online—when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. In the page-turning tradition of writers like Michael Lewis and Lawrence Wright, Witt’s deeply reported first book introduces the unforgettable characters—inventors, executives, factory workers, and smugglers—who revolutionized an entire artform, and reveals for the first time the secret underworld of media pirates that transformed our digital lives.

An irresistible never-before-told story of greed, cunning, genius, and deceit, How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry—it’s a must-read history of the Internet itself.
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