Review: The Hard Thing About Hard Things

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Biography & Memoirs, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Economics, Information Operations, Leadership
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Ben Horowitz

5.0 out of 5 stars ABSORBING – Requires Open Mind, March 16, 2014

I generally read all the reviews before writing my own, in part to see if anyone has already covered the ground the way I like to, with a summary evaluative review. There are only two reviews before mine that I consider world-class, please do read them if you have the time. I refer to the reviews by Mercenary Trader and Scott S. Bell, I salute both of them for providing substance useful to all.

This is not a comprehensive book in that it is a very personal perspective, brings together many specific snapshots, but never addresses “root” in relation to how the team went from great idea to source code to buzz to market share. As I read the book I thought often about a book I read in the 1980′s, still a classic, Tracey Kidder’s The Soul of A New Machine.

I would say this book is an absolutly priceless gem for the “hard knocks” at the CEO level perspective, and should be combined with any of several alternatives on start-ups such as Matt Blumberg’s Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website, and, forthcoming, Peter Thiel of PayPal’s Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

I’ve built two companies, both failures in that I never made the leap from one man with an obession to a movement (OSS.Net, Inc. and Earth Intelligence Network, a 501c3) and what I did not see in this book, or any other book I have found, is the roadmap for getting from a big idea to big marketshare. That book remains to be written, and it could be that it should be written by Marc Andressen and a team. Jim Clark’s Netscape Time: The Making of the Billion-Dollar Start-Up That Took on Microsoft is a fine but dated (1999) start but we need something now tailored to the Internet of Things (what everyone else is thinking about) and free individual access to and ability to leverage all information in all languages all the time (what I have been thinking about since 1986 — visit Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog to learn more). I am also reminded of Michael Lewis’s The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story.

All this by way of saying that you have no business reading or buying this book if you are expecting a holistic 360 degree soup to nuts outline of how to zero to Mach 2. The greatest value of this book for me was in learning that it is possible to keep flying when you lose power and both wings fall off at the same time.

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Handbook Archives on Public Intelligence (1992-2006)

Handbook Elements
Archives 1992-2006
Archives 1992-2006

1997

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HandbookAdminCover, Appreciation, Foreword, Contents

1997

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HandbookHorowitzAppendix G: Open Source OPSEC: Selected References and Information

1997

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HandbookHorowitzChapter 6. Open Sources and Operational Security–The Dark Side

1997

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HandbookOSSAppendices (List of)

1997

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HandbookOSSAppendix B-3: Glossary of Open Source Acronyms

1997

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HandbookOSSAppendix E-2: Internet: Intelligence-Oriented List of Useful Internet Sites

1997

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HandbookPC MagazineAppendix E-3: Internet: Intel Sites from PC Magazine’s Top 100 Web Sites

1997

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HandbookStapleton-GrayAppendix E-1 Internet: Self-Guided Tour

1997

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HandbookStapleton-GrayChapter 4. The Internet as a Tool for All-Source Analysis

1997

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HandbookSteeleAppendix A: White Paper on Open Source Intelligence & the Military

1997

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HandbookSteeleAppendix B-1: Talking Points on Private Enterprise Intelligence

1997

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HandbookSteeleAppendix B-2: Complete Paper on Private Enterprise Intelligence

1997

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HandbookSteeleAppendix B-4: Core Open Source References

1997

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HandbookSteeleAppendix C: Access: Theory and Practice of Intel in the Age of Information

1997

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HandbookSteeleAppendix D: Concise Directory of Selected Int’l Open Sources & Services

1997

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HandbookSteeleChapter 1. Overview of Open Sources & Services

1997

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HandbookSteeleChapter 2. Access: Intelligence in the Age of Information

1997

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HandbookSteeleChapter 3. International Open Sources and Services

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HandbookSteeleChapter 5. Open Sources and Military Capabilities

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HandbookSteeleChapter 7. Conclusion: Collection and Processing Open Source

1997

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HandbookUSMC & SteeleAppendix F-1: Expeditionary Environment R&A Framework & Model

1997

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HandbookUSMC & SteeleAppendix F-2: Mission Area Factors Summary

1997

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HandbookUSMC & SteeleAppendix H: Expeditionary Factors Study: List of Countries

1997

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HandbookWoutersAppendix E-4: Internet: How to Find an Interesting Mailinglist

Process Archives on Public Intelligence (1992-2006)

Methods & Process

2006

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ProcessCRSData Mining and Homeland Security

2006

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ProcessTurnbullGSA Collaborative Workshop on Information Sharing

2005

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ProcessClapperInterview

2005

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ProcessDNIPress Release on Appointment of ADDNI/OS

2005

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ProcessDNIOffice of the DNI Organization Charts

2005

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ProcessGerechtNeed for New Clandestine Service

2005

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ProcessHarrisABLE DANGER Summary

2005

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ProcessJHU-APLAsymmetric Information

2005

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ProcessKamien et allNeeds Analysis for Information Sharing

2005

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ProcessLiszkiewiezReconfiguring the Global System through Mobile Democracy

2005

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ProcessPetersOn the Soul of Intelligence

2005

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ProcessRushkoffOpen Source Democracy

2004

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ProcessSteeleOSS Proprietary Listing of Capabilities Needed by Open Source Agency

2001

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ProcessChesterThe Atlantic Command’s Open Source Intelligence Approach & Future

2001

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ProcessDziedzic & WoodInformation Technology as Catalyst for Civil-Military Unity of Effort

1999

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ProcessApplebyFeedback: The Missing Link in Information Superiority

1997

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ProcessGupta & PabianTricks of the Trade: Analytic Tools and Techniques

1997

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ProcessPinchotBeyond Bureaucracy: Intrapreurship

1993

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ProcessBermudezLetter from a Source

1993

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ProcessBonthousCulture: The Missing Intelligence Variable

1993

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ProcessBrodwin & BernardiInformation Overload

1993

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ProcessChristianArea Information Servers (WAIS) and Global Change Research

1993

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ProcessHalberstadtPower and Communication in the Information Age

1993

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ProcessHerringThe Role of Intelligence in Formulating Strategy

1993

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ProcessHorowitzUnderstanding Sources: The Real Challenge

1993

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ProcessIshiiCross-Cultural Communication & Computer-Supported Collaboration

1993

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ProcessMageeThe Age of Imagination: Coming Soon to a Civilization Near You

1993

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ProcessPedtkePutting Functionality in the Open Source Network

1992

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ProcessAndrioleIT Support for OSINT Analysis & Production (Slides)

1992

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ProcessAndrioleIT Support for OSINT Analysis & Production (Text)

1992

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ProcessBodansky & ForestGOP Terrorism Task Force: Research Techniques & Philosophy

1992

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ProcessFedanzoImplementing OSINT Through a Distributed Collection Model

1992

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ProcessKeesAdvanced Information Processing and Analysis

1992

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ProcessMcIntyreCompetitive Advantage: The Power of Online Systems

1992

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ProcessOgdinWords Are Not Enough

1992

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ProcessSacksUsing the Telephone as a Research Tool

1992

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ProcessShepardAnalysis in the Year 2002: A Concept of Operations

1992

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ProcessSibbetCommercial Remote Sensing: Open Source Imagery Intelligence

1992

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ProcessTennyGovernment Information Wants to be Free

1992

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ProcessThompsonRanked Retrieval and Extraction of Open Source Intelligence

1992

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ProcessTowPainting the Future: Some Remarks from INTERVAL

1992

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ProcessWhitney-SmithInformation Revolutions and the End of History

2003

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ProcessDoDDefense Intelligence Meta-Tagging

Commerce Archive on Public Intelligence (1992-2006)

Commerce
Archive 1992-2006
Archive 1992-2006

2004

SE

CommerceBjoreCommercial Intelligence

2003

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CommerceBjoreReinventing Commercial Intelligence

2002

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CommerceKlavansIdentifying Commercial Opportunities from Emerging Science

2000

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CommerceTechnology Intelligence from Patents

2000

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CommerceSullivanBusiness Perspective on Essential Overseas Information

1999

FR

CommerceBaumlinEspionage or Business Intelligence: Nuances of Gray

1999

UK

CommerceCollierOverview of New Horizons in OSINT Sources, Softwares, Services

1999

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CommerceMillerThe Year the Information Industry Hit Bottom

1999

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CommerceRobinsonHow Mobil Uses Open Sources & Services

1998

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CommerceBaumlinBlack, White, Gray, Realities of the Investigative Marketplace

1998

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CommerceBoyerAssessing US and Other Space Imaging Options for European Needs

1998

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CommerceBrucknerInformation and Knowledge Management in Intelligence Situations

1998

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CommerceBurwellCommercial Online Source Validation Methods

1998

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CommerceCollierThe Pricing of Electronic Information

1998

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CommerceDunnConfronting the Future of the Information Industry

1998

Israel

CommerceFeilerOpen and Personal: Economic Intelligence in the Middle East

1998

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CommerceHorowitzEconomic Espionage and OSINT: Legal and Security Implications

1998

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CommerceStaraValuing Competitive Intelligence

1998

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CommerceYankeelovPushing the Assets of Time and Knowledge

1997

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CommerceBorry & SohlElectronic Sources & Methods: A Belgian Business Perspective

1997

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CommerceSuggsInternational Trade & Commerce Intelligence Search Strategies (Slides)

1997

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CommerceSuggsInternational Trade & Commerce Intelligence Search Strategies (Text)

1996

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CommerceBatesRecent and Emerging Trends in Information Brokering

1996

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CommerceCallRealities & Myths Regarding Financial Research Using Open Sources

1996

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CommerceKolb (SCIP)Sales Pitch for the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals

1996

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CommerceSibbitEmerging Business Models for Commercial Remote Sensing

1996

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CommerceSteeleConcise Directory of Selected International Open Sources & Services

1996

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CommerceSteeleOpen Source Intelligence Handbook, Chapter 1, Overview

1995

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CommerceHerringBusiness Intelligence in Japan and Sweden: Lessons for the US

1995

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CommerceHerringIntelligence to Enhance American Companies’ Competitiveness

1995

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CommerceHerringUsing the Intelligence Process to Create Competitive Global Advantage

1995

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CommerceSimon & BlixtEmerging Issues in Competitive Intelligence

1994

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CommerceBaschSecrets of the Super-Searchers: A Personal and Practical Perspective

1994

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CommerceBernhardtTailoring Competitive Intelligence to Executive Needs

1994

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CommerceCollierGlobal Information Industry and a New Information Paradigm

1994

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CommerceHimelfarbIntroduction to Competitive and Business Intelligence

1994

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CommerceKellyASIDIC Perspectives & Its Contributions to National Competitiveness (S)

1994

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CommerceKellyASIDIC Perspectives & Its Contributions to National Competitiveness (T)

1994

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CommerceMarcinkoAssociation of Information and Dissemination Centers, Case Studies

1994

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CommerceShakerBeating the Competition: From Boardroom to War Room

1994

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CommerceShaker & RiceFrom War Room to Board Room

1994

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CommerceSharpHow to Identify Changes that Threaten Your Business Activity, In Advance

1994

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CommerceStanatThe Power of Global Business Information

1994

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CommerceSteeleGermany: ACCESS:  Theory and Practice of Competitor Intelligence

1994?

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CommerceSteeleASIDIC: Intelligence Community as a New Market

1993

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CommerceCaldwellInternational Investigative Market (Slides)

1993

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CommerceCaldwellInternational Investigative Market (Text)

1993

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CommerceDedijerEurope’s To BI or not to BE: Inventory of a New Business Innovation

1993

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CommerceEliasAn Overview of the Information Industry in 1993

1993

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CommerceFraumannBusiness is War

1993

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CommerceHerringBusiness Intelligence: Some Have It, Some Don’t–How They Do It

1993

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CommerceHimelfarbIntelligence Requirements for Executives

1993

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CommerceMonaco & GerliczyEconomic Intelligence and Open Source Information

1993

JP

CommerceShimaOverview of Japanese Media and Information Systems

1993

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CommerceSplittThe U.S. Information Industry: Changing the 21st Century

1993

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CommerceSteeleCorporate Role in National Competitiveness

1993

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CommerceSteeleThe Intelligence Community as a New Market

1992

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CommerceHlavaInformation Industry Corporations (Partial Listing)

1992

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CommerceHlavaSelected Professional and Trade Associations in Information

1992

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CommerceHlavaThe Information Industry: Impact of Globalization

1992

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CommerceMeyerBusiness Intelligence at the Cutting Edge

1992

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CommerceNobelFrom A to Z: What We’ve Done with Open Sources

1992

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CommerceShaker & KarduliasIntelligence Support to U.S. Business

1992

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CommerceWilliamsOSINT to Create Intelligence in a Commercial Environment