Inside Intuit is a history of the Intuit software firm. Mediocre writing, but a good story of software entrepreneurship in the heady early days of the PC revolution.
- Content: B-, somewhat interesting story of a consumer-software success story.
- Presentation: C+, lackluster writing.
Here were the most striking lessons for me:
- No one can do everything; Proulx and Cook complemented each other and were the high-quality seeds from which the company sprang.
- A bit of paranoia is useful - Microsoft screwed over Intuit in the first takeover talk when it backed out, after seeing Intuit's valuable strategies and plans.
- Cook has strong self-knowledge; was able to step aside for new CEOs, knew his current limits and strengths, was very disciplined in growing the company carefully and deliberately early on, and using his core skill of marketing and analysis he got from working at Procter&Gamble.
- Sticking very close to customers is essential - that's what enabled Intuit to survive and grow in the critical starting years, including having senior managers sit in on customer service calls.
- Companies growing quickly will demand that the founders also grow very quickly as people, esp. in self-knowledge, willingness to seek help from different angles. Proulx grew from a programmer to becoming a deal-maker and negotiator.
- Determination to go lean (they boostrapped) and do whatever it takes was absolutely vital; Intuit faced "death" many times.
- Even smart guys can be swept away by new, fuzzy things like internet business models and fads. Intuit's early forays into the Web were not great successes.
- Decision making processes should never be taken for granted; without Cook's marketing discipline driving product planning, who knows if Intuit would've lasted as long.