Book Review: Subscribed By Zuora Founder Tien Tzuo

TL;DR: While unclear as to who it was written for, if you are completely behind on subscriptions and why recurring revenue is valuable, Subscribed may be a good read.

Subscribed is written by Zuora founder and CEO Tien Tzuo. It is less than 250 pages, making it a quick and easy read.

The book has two sections: The first covers the growth of subscriptions as a business category, and the second goes over how to succeed in that particular economy.

In the growth section, Tzuo does a useful job detailing the various areas of the business world that are turning to subscriptions and how that change can help both consumers and the businesses that serve them. However, the following section felt more rushed—comprised of a grab-bag of tools that didn’t complete a full set.

The breadth of the book at times leaves it shallow. In the media section, the usual call-outs Stratechery and The Information get mentioned, and the sophisticated reader will find little new knowledge in the example sections. At the same time, reading about how subscriptions work across product types in a single compilation can be a useful reminder of the scale of the trend under examination.


The key weakness of the book is that people who need the first section of the book (the what) won’t need the second (the how) and vice versa. If you are so behind on subscriptions that you need the what, you are probably not in a place to need the how. If you need the how, you already know the what.

At the same time, if someone you know is completely confused about subscriptions, recurring revenue, and why moving from selling software in boxes to on-demand can help a company’s financials, the book is approachable, quick, and summary. It may also provide talking points to individuals inside of companies who are arguing for a more progressive business model.

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