- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Times Books; First Edition edition (31 Dec. 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812931432
- ISBN-13: 978-0812931433
- Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.5 x 3.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 987,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
High Stakes, No Prisoners: A Winner's Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars Hardcover – 31 Dec 1998
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If you've ever gone out to lunch with a coworker and suddenly found yourself witness to a savage stream of unflattering assessments of bosses, wicked gossip, and the-emperor-has-no-clothes analysis of your industry, you'll know what it's like to read High Stakes, No Prisoners. Ferguson, an MIT PhD., started up a company called Vermeer Technologies in 1994, a rough time for start-ups in Silicon Valley. The country was coming out of a recession, the stock market was stagnant, and the Internet wasn't yet taken seriously by those with money to invest. Vermeer had a software program called FrontPage that only someone who understood the coming power of the Net could appreciate. Even in Silicon Valley, few were so prescient.
Most of High Stakes is the story of Vermeer, from its start-up to its sale to Microsoft. (Now bundled with Microsoft Office, FrontPage is used by more than 3 million people worldwide.) Along the way, Ferguson met the players in the Valley and formed strong opinions of them. He describes Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale as an egomaniac and technological dolt in way, way over his head. Oracle founder Larry Ellison is "severely warped." One of his best lines sums up Silicon Valley as a place where "one finds little evidence that the meek shall inherit the earth."
But this isn't just the technological equivalent of WWF trash-talking. Ferguson is very tough on himself, too, and details his own shortcomings as a person and a businessman. Mostly, it's a gloves-off account of how things really get done in high technology today, as refreshingly honest and acerbic an account as you'll ever read. --Lou Schuler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A very interesting read. Not often there is a book written by someone high up on the 'inside' about the life of an Internet start-up. -- M2 Best Books, February 16, 2001 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Anyone considering taking that ride would be well advised to read Ferguson's book before they set out. High Stakes is a witty, acerbic, and detailed account of how he grew Vermeer from a germ of an idea into a world leader in web site authoring technology. It was a painful but highly lucrative exercise. Vermeer was sold to Microsoft for $113 million after just two years.
What makes this different from other Silicon Valley start-up tales is that Ferguson doesn't hold anything back. He recounts the endless meetings with venture capitalists and the internal struggles that almost brought the company down. He is also quick to criticise both himself and others, resulting in a book that is both educational and entertaining.
His contempt for bandwagon-hopping careerist businessmen who subordinate entire companies to their rampaging egos is amusing, particularly if, like most people, you've encountered such rats yourself. Polemical in parts, of course, but a splendid book.
It's a fascinating insight into how the Internet has taken off in the past 6 or 7 years, and having been using for that period myself I can relate the author's insights and behind-the-scenes experience to the news headlines I've followed over the years.
He's blunt and says what he thinks of the movers and the shakers in the industry and is an absolutely invaluable guide for anybody with an idea who wishes to start their own company since it documents what his company did, and what mistakes they believe they made.
Anybody interested in 'net history, s/w development, or Internet start-ups should make a point of reading this.
Absolutely one of the best books I've read recently.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting book about the politics of the silicon valley, VC's and not so useful CEO's.Published on 27 Jun. 2014 by MR M.
Ferguson's analysis is untroubled by any reflection. He is certain on all matters, whether the future of businesses about which he knows little, or the motivation and... Read morePublished on 26 Aug. 2000
Rarely has a book caught my imagination as much as this. Firstly the sheer magnificance of the idea, execution and politics of this web development company was breathtaking. Read morePublished on 12 April 2000 by email@example.com
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