Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review - Inside Intuit


I was first turned onto this book by Joel Spolsky on his reading list for the Fog Creek Management Software Management Program. The full title of the book is Inside Intuit: How the Makers of Quicken Beat Microsoft and Revolutionized an Entire Industry
by Suzanne Taylor.

In short, it is an excellent read and provides great insight into Intuit's struggle to make it from a small start-up in the early '80s to an $8+ billion power house. Some highlights that I found interesting include:
  • Cash strapped Intuit's founder, Scott Cook's, ability to inspire his team and lead them through some very lean times
  • Detailed recount of several run-ins with Microsoft and Bill Gates and how Intuit maneuvered to come out ahead
  • Excellent character development, I really got a sense for Scott Cook and Bill Campbell's values and how those values permeated the Intuit culture
I also found it interesting to read about the struggles to come up with a common development platform they called Bedrock, but perhaps my favorite overall is the story of Eric Dunn's heroic effort to salvage Quicken for Windows in 1991.

He undertook the effort with the agreement that Intuit would give him a black BMW M5 upon successful delivery. When Proulx return from vacation after the Quicken for Windows launch he found on his desk an expense report for ~$85K. If only all our heroics earn such great rewards.

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