Donald Katz

The web’s a strange place. Online services launch, propel to stardom, crash and burn and get sold at a dizzying speed. Founders leave their old companies, invest in young start-ups and begin new ventures all the time. In this environment, Donald Katz, founder of audiobook download service, remains as solid asarock.

Audible launched 12 years ago, and is one of a fewinternet companies from the 90s to survive the dotcom crash. Katz, who had been a successful author for 20 years, came up with the idea for Audible when he got an assignment for a book about digital media from Random House in 1992. He started researching the topic and discovered that there actually wasn’t that much going on. “The thing that launched the business was my discovery that in the United States, 93 million Americans drove to work alone in 1995,” he remembers. “What they did in the car 600 million hours a week was default to the AM/FM radio system. So this idea – that your eyes are busy but your mind isfree – came to me, and I began to think about howgreat it would be if you could address the inefficiencies in the book business by having a world of audiobooks that you could endlessly access.”

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