Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Sam Altman's Twitter AMA (hashfav.com)
82 points by hashfav on Oct 21, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 37 comments

For the question "What are some of the best books to learn from that you recommend for a young startup founder?", I decided to transcribe the answers.


"Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future" - http://www.amazon.com/Zero-One-Notes-Startups-Future/dp/0804...

"Republic" - http://www.amazon.com/Republic-Hackett-Classics-Plato/dp/087... (classic, feel free to grab a PDF)

"The Principia : Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy" - http://www.amazon.com/Principia-Mathematical-Principles-Natu... (classic, feel free to grab a PDF)

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" - http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...

"Molecular Biology of the Cell" - http://www.amazon.com/Molecular-Biology-Cell-Bruce-Alberts/d... (different edition, forgive me; free through NCBI, thanks jkimmel!)

"Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age" - http://www.amazon.com/Dealers-Lightning-Xerox-PARC-Computer/...

"The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer" - http://www.amazon.com/Supermen-Seymour-Technical-Wizards-Sup... (note: "that one's particularly good")

"Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories" - http://www.amazon.com/Hateship-Friendship-Courtship-Loveship...

"The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership" - http://www.amazon.com/Score-Takes-Care-Itself-Philosophy/dp/...

"The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time" - http://www.amazon.com/Beak-Finch-Story-Evolution-Time/dp/067...

"The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison" - http://www.amazon.com/Constitutional-Convention-Narrative-Hi...

"The Art Of War for Lovers" - http://www.amazon.com/The-ART-WAR-FOR-LOVERS/dp/0671000632 (fixed! sorry about that...)

"Hold 'em Poker: For Advanced Players" - http://www.amazon.com/Hold-em-Poker-Advanced-Players/dp/1880...

"Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets" - http://www.amazon.com/Solution-Selling-Creating-Difficult-Ma...

"The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition" - http://www.amazon.com/Endurance-Shackletons-Legendary-Antarc...

"Winning" - http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Jack-Welch/dp/0060753943/

I wish he had answered in text. That would have made things easier :) However, I'm still very happy to have some new additions to my reading list!

The Art of War one looks more like "The Art of War In The Middle Ages" by C.W.C.Oman



This is correct--art of war in the Middle Ages.

Thanks for correcting me. Those blurry frames can be tough.

Yeah, I thought it was the Sun Tzu first too, which could as well be on his list. Thank you for compiling them.

Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts) is free through NCBI! Many investigators jokingly refer to it as 'the bible'.


Unfortunately, it doesn't look like you can read it cover to cover or download it.

  By agreement with the publisher, this book is accessible by 
  the search feature, but cannot be browsed.

This is true. However, you can get to any topic you want easily using the search feature. A Table of Contents is provided, making front-to-back reading by topic pretty trivial.

I've taken many university courses using this book and managed to read all the required material on NCBI without much effort.

Ooh, much appreciated! Especially since a new hardcover is ~$150. Edited to note this.

do you see any reason he put this book in the list?

This is great! Do you mind if we add it to the HashFav Page? We will credit you.

I don't mind at all. Glad to be of service.

You might want to make josu's correction above ^

Thanks, we just did.

im surprised to see Republic in here

What app does he use for this? He said "Answer cam", but couldn't find it in any store? Anyone has a link?

Still in private testing, more info http://answercam.me/

It's not public yet.

Well they missed one heck of a chance to collect email addresses, even if they weren't ready to roll out the product.

If the product is good, there will be more chances ;)

> We don't have a PR firm. I do think YC paid for an ad once in 2006 in the Stanford college newspaper, but we don't really do marketing. The thing we rely on most of all is founders we fund telling other people about our program.

Really? That answer seems somewhat misleading, I don't know if intentionally. YC's biggest place to advertise is HN. In fact, look below right now -- 'Apply to YC'. In addition to reminders of when the applications are due showing up in frontpage, etc.

>Really? That answer seems somewhat misleading, I don't know if intentionally. YC's biggest place to advertise is HN. In fact, look below right now -- 'Apply to YC'. In addition to reminders of when the applications are due showing up in frontpage, etc.

That answer is not misleading IMHO. Apart from their own website such as this, they don't market through other venues such as radio, tv etc.. Never heard of YC until I was doing research through the web and found hacker news.

I thought about this more and in fairness I think since we don't charge for startup school, female founders conference, etc we should sort of count that as marketing. Though I also honestly believe they are good for the world.

And HN, sort of.

Putting a link to your product on your own non-commercial website isn't paid advertising though, and it's certainly not proof-positive of a PR firm.

HN is a commercial website. In addition to the links promoting YC, they also post job listings for YC related companies.

Exactly. Y Combinator's marketing appears to be Hacker News, Startup School, the Female Founders Conference, Open Office Hours, and touring colleges -- essentially everything YC does more or less for "free" that serve to promote its main programs.

Well, YC was bootstrapped (marketing-wise) by the goodwill of pg's personal website too. That had plenty of same-minded exposure in the beginning.

Ten years later, people now see YC as "we can give you a better future/make you rich/famous/etc if you work hard and receive our magic touch."

It's a very word-of-mouth spreading meme. "This company makes you rich, be one of us, shub shub."

Take note of what website you're visiting :-) news.ycombinator.com.

Is it really fair to call content on their own website marketing? I suppose there is a sense of the term in which that's true, but given the context I'm not sure that I would say so in the context of objecting to their claim.

Didn't PG himself sing the praises of good PR firms during his Viaweb days?

At Viaweb in 1997 we were trying to reach mail order merchants, which PR firms were effective at, because they all read the same several magazines. It's not clear that PR firms have the ear of prospective founders in 2015.

For more on this, see http://blogs.wsj.com/accelerators/2014/06/03/jessica-livings...

Sam: Any reason why you couldn't set your phone down in a stable position, or just tell someone to hold it steadily for you?

edit: I don't mean it in a mean way, just curious.

Its a pain to do that. Apart from that it was supposed to be a quick interview / informal one. Also, it was helpful when he had to show books.

What is HashFav?

Google points me here: https://www.hashfav.com/

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact