The book aims is to provide start-up advice, management advice and tips on innovative thinking techniques through an analysis of the background and numbers behind top ecommerce companies and service providers. The challenge with attempts at writing profile books on online companies is that the stats and figures are out of date months before the book is published. Ross and Holland have managed this limitation very well by stressing the history and thinking behind each of the companies chosen rather than the numbers. This focuses your attention on the genuinely interesting stories behind successful companies and the entrepreneurial insight from key players rather than the temporal accuracy of the numbers.
For example in the entry on YouTube I was caught up in the story of the founders, fund raising and feature changes and therefore did not care that the intro lists the start-up costs as $3.5mm rather than the total amount raised by YouTube which was $11.5 ($3.5 first round, $8 in the second).
The second challenge in a book like this is to pick 50 companies. Holland and Ross also had to find a balance between Australian and International companies. That have met this challenge by using the word "Great" rather than "Best" to define the entrants. That lets them get away with some quirks such as including the small scale independent property service Stayz (that Fairfax bought for $12mm) on a list that includes super-heavy weights Google, eBay and Amazon and start-up A-list 2.0ers like Facebook, Digg and Twitter.
A number of travel players get a mention - Webjet, Stayz, Kayak (no Sidestep) and Wotif.
Book is well research, with Holland and Ross gaining access to inside knowledge on every company profiled. This made the story behind the companies profiled intriguing as well as being well written.
Disclosure - was provided with a copy of the book at no charge but was not obliged to profile positively or at all.