A Truck Full of Money by Tracy Kidder“A perfectly executed, exquisitely reported parable of the Internet age and the wild, mad adventure that is start-up culture.”—Charles Duhigg
Fortune, mania, genius, philanthropy—the bestselling author of Mountains Beyond Mountains gives us the inspiring story of Paul English, the founder of Kayak.com and Lola.
Tracy Kidder, the “master of the nonfiction narrative” (The Baltimore Sun) and author of the bestselling classic The Soul of a New Machine, now tells the story of Paul English, a kinetic and unconventional inventor and entrepreneur, who as a boy rebelled against authority. Growing up in working-class Boston, English discovers a medium for his talents the first time he sees a computer. As a young man, despite suffering from what would eventually be diagnosed as bipolar disorder, he begins his pilgrim’s journey through the ups and downs in the brave new world of computers. Relating to the Internet as if it’s an extension of his own mind, he discovers that he has a talent for conceiving innovative enterprises and building teams that can develop them, becoming “a Pied Piper” of geeks. His innovative management style, success, and innate sense of fair play inspire intense loyalty. Early on, one colleague observes: “Someday this boy’s going to get hit by a truck full of money, and I’m going to be standing beside him.” Yet when English does indeed make a fortune, when the travel website Kayak is sold for almost two billion dollars—the first thing he thinks about is how to give the money away: “What else would you do with it?” The second thing he thinks is, What’s next?
With the power of a consummate storyteller, Tracy Kidder casts a fresh, critical, and often humorous eye on the way new ideas and new money are reshaping our culture and the world. A Truck Full of Money is a mesmerizing portrait of an irresistibly endearing man who is indefatigable, original, and as unpredictable as America itself.
Praise for A Truck Full of Money
“Kidder’s prose glides with a figure skater’s ease, but without the glam. His is a seemingly artless art, like John McPhee’s, that conceals itself in sentences that are necessary, economical, and unpretentious.”—The Boston Globe
“Kidder’s portrayal of living with manic depression is as nuanced and intimate as a reader might ever expect to get. . . . You can’t help admiring Mr. English and cheering for him.”—The New York Times
“[A] powerful and insightful tale that makes the Internet era entertaining, and defines English as an endearing, generous and eccentric geek.”—USA Today
“At times, the narrative of the young technologist, at least in Kidder’s hands, seems the modern equivalent of the story of the godless wayfarer who stumbles into a cathedral in a distant city, only to find that its vaulting arches and organ music bring on exaltations of mind and spirit.”—The New York Times Book Review
“What kind of entrepreneur talks about making money as if it’s, well, kind of a bummer? You’ll ask yourself that question about a dozen or so pages into A Truck Full of Money, Tracy Kidder’s expertly reported, deftly written new book that tracks the rise of unconventional software executive and Kayak.com co-founder Paul English.
A Truck Full of Money
Why, this man has them in spades. And brains! It takes a while to realize that Mr. English, a founder of the travel website Kayak. Kidder to strike such a gushing tone as he introduces us to this man.
Tracy Kidder — author of The Soul of a New Machine and Mountains Beyond Mountains — now brings us the spirited life of an American original, the engrossing story of an inventive, kinetic, and generous man who faces what seems like an enviable problem: How to deal with great success.
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This should be a great story. Kayak is an incredible technology company success story. Paul English is a colorful entrepreneur and technologist. The Boston technology world has been under-explored in comparison to the Bay Area tech scene. We learn very little about online travel space. We get almost no glimpse into the technical and business challenges of building and running Kayak. Nor do we gain much insight into the role of technology - or the technology business - in our larger culture.