I just finished reading "The Facebook Book" by my friend Karel Baloun. It's a tasty blend of like-you-were-there-vignette, easy-going-humor, a hint of salty-engineer, with a large slathering of starry-eyed-startup-wanderlust.
The two-minute summary: at the end of reading it, you literally feel like you worked at the faceboook for the couple of years prior. You know the inside jokes, you know the nicknames, and you know the history of the software, the way the company was built and funded, and, e.g., how darn similar the facebook seems to a lot of other startups that don't achieve anywhere near its success (Game room with an Xbox? Where have i seen THAT movie before? Fancy chairs and on-the-company-caffeine?). Karel captures more than a few salient observations about what the team had to do to stay focused and get the product out the door. E.g., when they had 2.5 million registered members and over a billion pageviews a month, they were still making all site changes as root. Without version control. Yes, you read that right. That's worth thinking about the next time you find yourself in a bickering match about version control for your nobody-even-uses-it-yet website/product (*clears throat, looks askance*). For you Splunkers out there -- for the record, facebook uses Subversion and TRAC. Another thing is the scary drink-the-koolaid level of single-minded focus the company has. As an engineer, page 39's simple recipe for how to get a great application built is worth the ten bucks. And so on.
My favorite sentence in the book, from the chapter "Giving users what they want": "Facebook gives users what they want, which for college students is information about their friends and school mates, for the purpose of, well, um, sex." Perspicacious, indeed! Recommended.
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