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How Kayak co-founder Paul English got hit by a ‘truck full of money’

English and the author of his biography, Tracy Kidder, talk with Kara Swisher on Recode Decode.

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The thing that separates Paul English from other entrepreneurs, Tracy Kidder writes in his recent book “A Truck Full of Money,” is his drive. But the book’s title comes from the question of what happens when an entrepreneur finds success and then gets driven over.

“A truck is something that hits you,” Kidder spelled out on the latest Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher.

“He feels that money should always be moving around,” he added. “It’s a fiction, and it exists to promote trade and building things. To hoard it is a disaster. Suddenly having $120 million stick to you — before taxes — it was upsetting for him.”

Kidder was joined on the podcast by his subject, English, who co-founded After selling it to Priceline for $2.1 billion, English now leads another travel company, Lola.

With his new company, he is trying to leverage the advantages of booking travel with a human travel agent by teaming up humans and artificial intelligence in a chat-like app.

“I think it was last year that a study showed people spend more minutes a day using messaging apps on their phone than using all other apps combined,” English said.

For Kidder, “A Truck Full of Money” is a return to tech 35 years after his seminal book about the budding computer revolution, “The Soul of a New Machine.” On the new podcast, he and English debated the future of artificial intelligence and the timeless challenges of being an entrepreneur in tech.

“I’m really wary of futurology,” Kidder said. “Predicting the future is a mug’s game, particularly in technology. No one can do it accurately. I lived through, I watched companies that looked like they were the future, particularly Digital Equipment — they just vanished in almost no time, it seems. And it’s because they misread the future.”

You can listen to Recode Decode in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
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This article originally appeared on

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