BURN RATE by Michael Wolff


How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet
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An insider’s account of the digital revolution, from its earliest days in the late 1980s to its sudden prominence in the media business. Wolff, a journalist and the founder and former CEO of Wolff New Media (Where We Stand, not reviewed), here chronicles both the day-to-day struggles of an entrepreneur and the heady early burgeoning of the Internet. Neither a polemic about the Information Age and the increasingly dominant role the Internet plays in it nor a business manual, his account is a business story, a first-person narrative about the difficulties for anyone of starting one’s own business. His instincts as a journalist serve him well in the book’s conception and in its writing. Realizing the potential of the Internet, Wolff dove in headfirst, only to find himself playing a role in what is perhaps the business story of the 1990s. Like Hollywood moguls of the past, new-media moguls have a flamboyance and verve that Wolff aptly captures. Of one such character he writes, “He had achieved an air of fabulousness, with a kind of hollandaise richness, even Robert Maxwell ripeness.” And while Wolff often veers off into rather purple prose, especially when describing players such as Wired founders Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, his eye for color and detail keeps this rags-to-riches tale amusing. He is at his best when he provides insights into how the Internet industry began to take shape; his observations about Time Inc. and AOL possess an astuteness that only someone long in the know could possibly have. Moreover, Wolff re-creates the sense of excitement--and the attendant chaos--that helped characterize the Internet as the disparate worlds of venture capitalists, college-kid entrepreneurs, and seasoned executives alternately clashed and came together on its behalf. An intelligent and entertaining account of the business and culture of the Internet that skillfully merges a personal tale with the larger story.

Pub Date: June 24th, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-84881-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998


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