Stephan Schmidt

Books on HackerNews for CTOs - Reviewing 2023

What books did HackerNews mention that are good for CTOs?

Reading through “The Hacker News Top 40 books of 2023” (thanks for all the work!) I wondered which ones of these are the most relevant for CTOs? The list contains many computer programming books, and while somehow interesting, you might be beyond those (or are you?). It contains lots of mathematics books, but hey, you’re not working in finance. It contains lots of novels, and all of them should be a great read, but they’ll probably don’t help you with your CTO job.

Here is the Top 10 list of books for CTOs mentioned on HackerNews:

2. Designing Data-Intensive Applications - Martin Kleppmann

Great overview over storages and how to design around data.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

CTOs ignore networking. While their marketing peers network at each lunch, CTOs sit with developers (you can sit with developers all the time, don’t do it every lunch). Win friends in marketing and finance and influence people in sales and the CEO.

6. The Mythical Man-Month - Frederick P. Brooks Jr.

Classic, still relevant.

13. Peopleware - Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister

Classic, still relevant, too. It was the first tech management book I’ve read. I think it’s one of the first books who think of software development as a people business.

21. High Output Management - Andrew S. Grove

Classic, still relevant. Probably the first modern management book. MUST READ.

24. The Phoenix Project - Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford

Startup CTO? Read it.

36. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni

Good if you know what you’re doing.

62. The Lean Startup - Eric Ries

Everyone wants to be lean, no-one does it. Go back to the basics. Talk to customers, talk to the market, follow the model instead of what your company thinks lean is.

63. An Elegant Puzzle - Will Larson


69. The Idea Factory - Jon Gertner

Today’s CTOs don’t innovate enough. Always think on how technical innovation can drive product success (and a new JS framework is not technical innovation in this sense)

Good and interesting list, with books people mention on HackerNews.

More books? You can find the books I recommend to engineering managers and CTOs here.

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About Stephan

As a CTO, Interim CTO, CTO Coach - and developer - Stephan has seen many technology departments in fast-growing startups. As a kid he taught himself coding in a department store around 1981 because he wanted to write video games. Stephan studied computer science with distributed systems and artificial intelligence at the University of Ulm. He also studied Philosophy. When the internet came to Germany in the 90 he worked as the first coder in several startups. He has founded a VC funded startup, worked in VC funded, fast growing startups with architecture, processes and growth challenges, worked as a manager for ImmoScout and as a CTO of an eBay Inc. company. After his wife successfully sold her startup they moved to the sea and Stephan took up CTO coaching. You can find him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @KingOfCoders

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