Summary of Viral Loop

From Facebook to Twitter, How Today's Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves

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Viral Loop book summary
Viral growth can turn a popular online service into an exponentially exploding commercial juggernaut.


8 Overall

8 Applicability

7 Innovation

7 Style


In 2000, the “Naked Scientists,” a group of Cambridge University physicians and researchers who popularize science, satirically described the viral path of an odd growth industry: Elvis Presley impersonation. At that time, more than 85,000 Elvis impersonators actively performed around the world, “compared to only 170 in 1977 when Elvis died.” The Naked Scientists jovially argued that, at that rate of growth, “by 2019, Elvis impersonators will make up a third of the world’s population.” Of course, this is deliberately ridiculous, but “viral growth” is not. Just note the astounding expansion of such Internet juggernauts as YouTube, Google, Ning and Facebook. Indeed, based on Facebook’s remarkable current popularity, it is not inconceivable that everyone on the globe with an Internet connection could be a Facebook member in 30 years. What accounts for such incredible growth? If you want an answer to that question, getAbstract recommends Adam L. Penenberg’s absorbing and detailed (perhaps too detailed) book. He examines this timely subject with a focus on the Web’s ability to foster sites that are social trendsetters and economic powerhouses.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What a viral loop company is
  • What traits distinguish companies that grow by spreading virally
  • Why a high “viral coefficient” guarantees exponential growth
  • How some companies became viral


Hot or Not?
In the fall of 2000, two 20-something entrepreneurs, James Hong and Jim Young, had a simple idea for a new Web site: Am I Hot or Not allowed visitors to vote on whether they thought the men and women in photographs displayed on the site were good-looking. On October 9, Am ...
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About the Author

Adam L. Penenberg teaches journalism at New York University, where he is assistant director of the Business and Economics Program. He has written for The New York Times, Forbes, Slate magazine, The Economist, Mother Jones, Fast Company and Inc.

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