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Burn Rate
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Michael Wolff's wickedly funny chronicle of his rags-to-riches-to-rags adventure as a fledgling Internet entrepreneur exposes an industry powered by hype, celebrity, and billions of investment dollars -- and notably devoid of profit-making enterprises. As he describes his efforts to control his company's burn rate -- the amount of money the company consumes in excess of its income -- Wolff offers a no-holds-barred portrait of unaccountable successes and major disasters, including the story behind Wired magazine and its fanatical founder, Louis Rossetto; the rise of America Online, perhaps the most dysfunctional successful company in history, and the humiliating inability of people such as Bill Gates to untangle the intricacies of the Web.
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About the Author

Michael Wolff writes a weekly column about media for New York magazine and is a founding columnist of the Internet business magazine The Industry Standard. He is the creator of the bestselling NetGuide and the thirty-title series of NetBooks. He is the author of White Kids and the coauthor of Where We Stand, which became a multipart PBS television series. He lives in New York City.

Reviews

Wolff (Net Love, LJ 4/1/97) became the founder and CEO of Wolff New Media in 1990, a profitable company that developed content ideas for books, magazines, and television. After meeting Louis Rosetto and Jane Metcalfe, the founders of Wired magazine, he turned his attention to developing ideas for making money in the Internet industry as a "content provider." From 1994 to 1996, he changed the focus of his company and expanded his work force. He had to seek capital but could not get enough to keep things afloat owing to negative effects of the "burn rate"Äthe money a company spends each month exceeding the revenue. Wolff's detailed, witty, and very readable work not only chronicles his unsuccessful attempt via relationships with venture capitalists, investors, America Online, and other players and companies to secure revenue but provides a thought-provoking and critical commentary on entrepreneurship in this business. Recommended for public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/98.]ÄSteven J. Mayover, formerly with Free Lib. of Philadelphia

Kurt Andersen columnist at "The New Yorker" "Burn Rate" is the real deal: a smart, thoughtful, funny, knowing, clear-eyed, candid and altogether exhilarating insider's chronicle of the new media business -- that is, the new media "business." If there's more honest and entertaining book on the digital revolution, I haven't seen it. Amy Cortese"Business Week""Burn Rate" is a hilarious and frightening account of the life of an Internet startup. Peter Martin"Financial Times"Wolff has given us the best account of both the lure and the frustration of the Internet. Deborah Stead"The New York Times""Burn Rate" has a terrific feel for the crazy deals, the characters and the clashing bicoastal cultures of the Internet. Peter McGrath"Newsweek,.".the alternately hilarious and appalling story of Wolff's efforts to take his small Web publishing company into the big time by courting investors. Michael Lewisauthor of "Liar's Poker" and "Trail Fever""Burn Rate" is a delight to read. Michael Wolff shows that, in addition to a great deal of junk, the Internet may yet produce literature. Kurt Andersencolumnist at "The New Yorker""Burn Rate" is the real deal: a smart, thoughtful, funny, knowing, clear-eyed, candid and altogether exhilarating insider's chronicle of the new media business -- that is, the new media "business." If there's more honest and entertaining book on the digital revolution, I haven't seen it. Peter McGrath "Newsweek" ...the alternately hilarious and appalling story of Wolff's efforts to take his small Web publishing company into the big time by courting investors. Deborah Stead "The New York Times""Burn Rate" has a terrific feel for the crazy deals, the characters and the clashing bicoastal cultures of the Internet. Amy Cortese "Business Week""Burn Rate" is a hilarious and frightening account of the life of an Internet startup. Peter Martin "Financial Times" Wolff has given us the best account of both the lure and the frustration of the Internet. Kurt Andersen columnist at "The New Yorker""Burn Rate" is the real deal: a smart, thoughtful, funny, knowing, clear-eyed, candid and altogether exhilarating insider's chronicle of the new media business -- that is, the new media "business." If there's more honest and entertaining book on the digital revolution, I haven't seen it. Deborah Stead "The New York Times" "Burn Rate" has a terrific feel for the crazy deals, the characters and the clashing bicoastal cultures of the Internet. Amy Cortese "Business Week" "Burn Rate" is a hilarious and frightening account of the life of an Internet startup. Michael Lewis author of "Liar's Poker" and "Trail Fever" "Burn Rate" is a delight to read. Michael Wolff shows that, in addition to a great deal of junk, the Internet may yet produce literature. Peter McGrath Newsweek ...the alternately hilarious and appalling story of Wolff's efforts to take his small Web publishing company into the big time by courting investors. Peter Martin Financial Times Wolff has given us the best account of both the lure and the frustration of the Internet. Michael Lewis author of Liar's Poker and Trail Fever Burn Rate is a delight to read. Michael Wolff shows that, in addition to a great deal of junk, the Internet may yet produce literature. Kurt Andersen columnist at The New Yorker Burn Rate is the real deal: a smart, thoughtful, funny, knowing, clear-eyed, candid and altogether exhilarating insider's chronicle of the new media business -- that is, the new media "business." If there's more honest and entertaining book on the digital revolution, I haven't seen it. Amy Cortese Business Week Burn Rate is a hilarious and frightening account of the life of an Internet startup. Deborah Stead The New York Times Burn Rate has a terrific feel for the crazy deals, the characters and the clashing bicoastal cultures of the Internet.

After operating a small media company for a number of years in New York City, the author joined the ranks of Internet entrepreneurs in 1994 when he formed Wolff New Media and found himself operating in an industry with few rules, much venture capital money and lots of companies losing that money at a rapid rate. Wolff's own burn rate (the rate at which his company was losing money) was several hundred thousand dollars per month. In an effort to keep afloat, he and his financial backers met with numerous companies about a variety of business combinations ranging from an outright acquisition of Wolff New Media to a partnership arrangement. Wolff failed to reach agreements with such companies as the Washington Post, Ameritech, Magellan and America Online. He describes his negotiations with these firms in a witty fashion that provides readers a glimpse of the operating style of some of America's best-known companies. Wolff's most entertaining account concerns his dealings with AOL, which he calls the most dysfunctional company in the country. Although Wolff (Where We Stand) was an early believer in the ability of the Internet to deliver powerful content to a mass audience, by the time he resigned from his own company in 1997, he had come to see the Net as more of a transactional medium. Combining humor with his firsthand experiences, Wolff has produced a book that fledgling Internet entrepreneurs would be wise to read. (July)

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