The one story you should read today, selected by the editors of New York.
During the boom-and-bust cycles of recent years, stories of tech founders have tended to fall intotwo categories. There are the incredible successes, in which a company goes public or gets acquired and the founder is rewarded with copious riches and glory. Then there are the flameouts, in which a company’s net worth goes to zero. Rarely do we hear about the founders in the middle: those stuck in the Waiting for Godot state of keeping a venture-backed start-up running with no clear exit in sight. This Intelligencer essay, then, is a rare document. It’s a frank, lucid account from an anonymous tech founder who reverse-engineered a start-up during the venture-capital boom with the hope of making a quick $6 million. Now the easy-money era is over and his hoped-for wealth feels like a distant mirage. “I thought I’d be able to recognize a winning hand fast or fold,” he writes. “You could call me a middle-class founder: proprietor of a business you may or may not have heard of, tenuously wealthy on paper … chugging along in the twilight of an era that minted more giants and more waste than any other in history with no exit in sight.”