The Book that Inspired the Birth of reddit

Well, since Without Their Permission doesn't drop until October 1st, the one book you need to read this summer in order to be a better entrepreneur is the book that inspired me and Steve to start reddit: Masters of Doom.

It's about the founding story of id software, the video game company that revolutionized the industry with titles like Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake – not to mention occupied countless hours of my childhood.

Not your typical business book

Steve lent me a copy of this book sometime during our sophomore year and I devoured it. It's a pretty quick read. It's probably not for everyone, because id fanboys will most appreciate all the stories from the earliest days of Carmack and Romero.

Who knew changing the world could be so much fun?

Nevertheless, this book convinced me to consider starting a company. It just seemed like so much damn fun. Granted, we didn't end up starting a gaming company (well, I guess we had 'gamification' before that was a buzzword: karma, leaderboards, awards, etc) but the idea a few friends could get together in a house and start building something the world had never seen before – having a lot of fun in the process -- got me hooked.

Read at least one book this summer, you'll be better for it

Hopefully it'll be as rewarding for you while you spend some time away from the hustle. Even if you don't read Masters of Doom, get away from your inbox and the office this summer. We tend to fetishize hard work more than we should. Yes, it makes a difference, but don't forget about diminishing returns.

53 responses
Garry Tan upvoted this post.
Hands down "Masters of Doom" is the best business book ever written. But I am curious which episode of this "epic" tale resonated with you in particular? For me it was the scene where Romero, working diligently on Daikatana in his all glass penthouse office, being baked alive in the Texan sun, is shown a demo of Quake II and just knows he has been outclassed by his former colleagues. Particularly when he sees the rpg being fired and its yellow contrail reflected on the wall as it passes down a hallway. "How the heck did Carmack do that??? OMG!!!" So many great lessons in that book, but that chapter reminds me of hubris in the face of competition. Produce great work, but be ever humble ;)
A posthaven user upvoted this post.
We actually have a copy of this book at the office and I recommend it to anyone who joins. I think the other inspirational take-away, especially for engineers, is that a world-class engineer can make a massive difference in the outcome of a company, sometimes singlehandedly. The book and Carmack's wider work on 3D engines in general ignited my passion for game engine development and, ironically, some of the concepts we used in creating the engine for FarmVille were derived from the methods Carmack came up with in the Doom and Quake engines. Glad to hear it inspired you guys as well, thanks for the write up!
Reddit mostly succeeded because of Digg's blunders. Granted they have categories for everything, the design and UI are what keep me from using that site. Plus its mostly just silly images and videos. I don't need noise, I just need news.
Completely agreed, Alex. I found it to be a life-changing book and so, so nostalgic and fun. I even kept a photo of Carmack with his fingers flyin' above my dev computer for awhile next to "No One Going to Eat This Chicken" ( P.S. Thanks for giving your fellow (half) Greek-American tech entrepreneurs someone else to point to besides Calacanis.
Excellent book. Apparently there is a film in development.
Just bought a copy!
when I lived in the Princeton area, I knew the book's author, David Kushner. His writing style is terrific! On a similar theme, last year he published Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. He wrote two other books, one one how the game of Magic helped people in other areas of gambling: JONNY MAGIC AND THE CARD SHARK KIDS: How a Gang of Geeks Beat the Odds and Stormed Las Vegas and my favorite, one that has nothing to do with any type of game, LEVITTOWN: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America's Legendary Suburb. It is the story of Levittown, Pa and how it got integrated. All great reads!
Oh gee, I read this book many years ago and was absolutely blown away by the story. To this day I still love going to youtube and watch old keen and wolf 3d videos, this one being my favourite with Bobby Prince: It's a fantastic read and I'm glad to hear it inspired you to do something great.
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