Burn Rate by Michael Wolff Review

Simon and Schuster, June 1998.
Hardcover, 268 pages.
ISBN: 0679409793.

Burn Rate by Michael Wolff

"Burn Rate: the amount of money a promising start-up company consumes each month in excess of its income." What an appropriate name for journalist and entrepreneur Michael Wolff's no-holds-barred tale of the early days of the Internet, when millions were made and lost in weeks and no one had any idea exactly what they were doing. With a self-deprecating wit and sometimes shockingly candid accounts of conversations and business meetings, Wolff tells the tale of his own company's rags to riches to rags ride in the world of the Internet and the shark-infested waters of venture-capital financing.

The founder of the bestselling NetGuide, one of the first books to introduce the Internet to the general public, and of the NetBooks, the thirty-title series of Internet guides, Wolff was seduced by the siren song of the venture capitalists who convinced him that being a billionaire was just around the corner. As the company expanded too quickly with a disastrous burn rate of around half a million a month, the frenetic meetings to obtain new financing increase in pace and in absurdity. Throughout it all, Wolff faithfully maintained a record of the events, and his running commentary of the people he meets is absolutely priceless. From Louis Rossetto of Wired to Halsey Minor, CEO of CNET, to the revolving door executives at AOL ("America's most dysfunctional company") no one is spared Wolff's witty, hilarious and sometimes scathing analysis. But ultimately it is Wolff's story -- which is, by turns, hilarious, shocking and poignant. Highly recommended.

--Claire E. White

Ordering information: Amazon.com.