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(Founder Stories) FlipBoard's Mike McCue: The Builder

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Before Mike McCue discovered how to flip an iPad into a device that made reading digital magazines a cinch, he himself was discovered by some of the biggest names in the tech world while working away in Silicon Valley Woodstock, New York.

In this episode of Founder Stories with Chris Dixon, you’ll hear them geek out about programming video games for the TI99 in Extended Basic, how McCue went to IBM instead of college, discuss how he made ends meet when money was tight, how that situation changed a million times over, and the idea behind his first startup, Paper Software. “The idea was to create technology as simple and practical as a piece of paper,” he says. After a few twists and turns, it was acquired by Netscape, where he found himself when a little thing called JavaScript hit the programming world.

Then, after AOL bought Netscape, McCue tells Dixon he decided to re-scratch his entrepreneurial itch and describes jumping back into the founder game with his startup, TellMe. “We we wanted to build Dialtone 2.0,” he says.

Hear it all in his own words.

In the below interview, McCue picks up where he left off and discusses narrowly steering TellMe away from a dot.com crashing landing while overseeing a staff of 200 and spending “$45 million a year and little revenue” ┬áin the charred market of 2000. Fortunately, TellMe was able to raise a final $125 million round. “As the money was coming in from the banks,” recalls McCue, “the market was crashing.” He had some hard decisions to make as he prepared to “march through the desert.”

It all turned out okay. TellMe was eventually bought by Microsoft for $800 million. But getting there wasn’t easy.

Tomorrow, we’ll post more videos from this interview. Make sure to catch past episodes of Founder Stories with guests ranging Dennis Crowley and Mike Walwrath to David Karp and Lauren Leto here.