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.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Net Love) 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," the money a company spends each month exceeding its 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.
An exhilarating insider's chronicle of the new media business If there's a more honest and entertaining book on the digital revolution, I haven't seen it.
The New Yorker
Michael Wolff has given us the best account of both the lure and the frustration of the Internet.
Fascinating should be required reading for all would-be Net entrepreneurs.
I was impressed at how well Wolff described his ride on a business, financial, ethical, and emotional roller-coaster from flamboyance and invincibility, to cynicism and moral bankruptcy (at one point, Wolff swindles one of his investors out of $150K to meet payroll), and finally to despair and disillusionment.
Electronic Review of Computer Books
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), 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 recreates the sense of excitementand the attendant chaosthat 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.
The New York Times Burn Rate has a terrific feel for the crazy deals, the characters and the clashing bicoastal cultures of the Internet.
Business Week Burn Rate is a hilarious and frightening account of the life of an Internet startup.
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.
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.
Financial Times Wolff has given us the best account of both the lure and the frustration of the Internet.
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.