There’s a plethora of biographies and how-to books either written by, or about, the business tycoons of our age.
Apart from learning more about their favorite companies, many people ostensibly read them to gain some insight into what made those companies so successful.
But what if there’s a more concise way to pick up how they operate — without the platitudes and the extra polish added by PR-savvy executives?
There is: you can simply read emails from large companies published during antitrust hearings or other legal investigations.
This substack curates them.
So, apart from the actual content, like this insightful thread with Apple execs about iMessage on Android — what did I learn?
Yes, most emails convey hard-charging and hyper-competitive executives. But I can’t say that I’m surprised by that.
Rather, what stood out to me after reading them is how product-driven they are — down to the very details. Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall deciding on an alert message copy is a good example.
This and other examples go against popular advice for managers to “let go of the details” and manage on a “higher level”.
I, too, think that one can’t direct well if one sweats the details. And when deciding on whom to trust on this — “management advice”, or seeing how detail-obsessed senior execs in some of the most successful companies are — I take the latter any day.
P.S.: unrelated to tech, but for some old-school vibes, there’s the classic Enron email corpus, collected here.