Subject: Re: Intro and question
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 16:23:00 -0800

On 2/27/03 1:10 PM, "Rich Bodo" <> wrote:

>> is it possible to build a business without a large nest egg?

Of course it is.  It just takes longer.

I started O'Reilly with my "initial capital" of $500 worth of used
furniture.  We started as a documentation consulting business, with no
employees -- just a bunch of willing workers, who were willing to be on call
when we landed work.

We charged more than we paid ourselves, and used the balance to grow the

Eventually, we started retaining rights to manuals we wrote for customers,
and turned some of them into books.  Bit by bit we built a suite of
products, a sales infrastructure, and a brand.

Speaking of brand, our now world-famous animal imagery was a gift to us, an
"open source" contribution if you will, by a designer who was a friend of
one of our writers.  She thought that the Unix programs we wrote about
sounded like weird animals, and whipped up the design over a weekend when we
were struggling with possible covers for the books.

The only financing we've ever received has been bank loans against
receivables (plus cash flow from the business, including large cash
infusions from the sale of companies or products we've created, such as GNN,
Web Review, or LikeMinds).

We've also done a number of joint venture deals.  For example, all our
international subsidiaries were originally joint ventures with a larger
publisher, whom we bought out once the businesses were established.

Just read Richard Branson's autobiography, Losing My Virginity, and he built
up Virgin Music, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, et al, in precisely the same way,
just following his nose to interesting opportunities, and building the
business with bank loans and a lot of sweat equity.

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472