Archive for November, 2016

Silicon Valley II: Chaos Monkeys

Monday, November 28th, 2016

book cover imageGarcia Martinez, Antonio. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley. Harper, 2016.

Wall Street quant turned ads technology guru, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Facebook middle manager, Antonio Garcia Martinez presents a 500-page diary of a volatile 6 years of his life, from 2007-13. While too long by 100+ pages, his memoir is an entertaining and useful guidebook for working and succeeding in the new economy.
Garcia Martinez begins his story in 2007 when he leaves Stanford’s PhD program in Physics to price credit derivatives for Goldman Sachs. A year later he moves back to California, reinventing himself as an expert in advertising technology at Adchemy, a start-up that creates internet ads software and generates lists of potential customers for businesses. By 2010, Adchemy is sputtering and Garcia Martinez partners with two talented co-workers to apply to the start-up bootcamp Y Combinator. Their internet ads start-up, AdGrok, is funded by Y Combinator, but eventually sold to Twitter. Garcia Martinez abandons his partners to work at Facebook, generating revenue from user information for the Facebook Ads system. In 2012, Facebook’s IPO earns Garcia Martinez $4,000,000, but before he can collect it all, he loses a power struggle and is fired. In 2013, he rejoins his partners at Twitter.
Chaos Monkeys describes the brave new world of technology, where employees are replaced by computers and companies pay heavily for consumers attention. Garcia Martinez is at his best when he is illustrating the ways that technology is changing industries like finance and advertising, or when he is explaining complex concepts like derivatives, ads technology, venture funding or corporate buyouts.  His detailed descriptions about company identity, engineering culture, and decision making at Facebook are fascinating. Chapters about the Y Combinator network and process are vital for start-ups.  His portrayals of coworkers like Sheryl Sandberg and venture capitalists like Paul Graham are frank and detailed.
A self-described ruthless little shit, Garcia Martinez is weak when relating the personal aspects of his story. His drunken encounter with police is petty. He calls his partners at AdGrok, “the boys.” He complains that his $4 million IPO gain is a pittance for San Francisco natives. He is “snookered into fatherhood” when he sires two children with a derivatives trader, but pays his way out rather than compromise his freedom. Yet despite it all, Garcia Martinez’s bold and honest insights are recommended for anyone wanting to work in an industry disrupted by technology.

Also available as a ebook on OverDrive and as an audiobook on OverDrive.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

New Movies for November

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Here are our latest DVDs for the month:

Alice Through the Looking GlassInto the Forest DVD Cover
Café Society
Captain Fantastic
The Good Neighbor
Ice Age: Collision Course
The Infiltrator
Into the Forest
The Legend of Tarzan
Lights Out
The Night Manager
Swiss Army Man
Game of Thrones, season 6
Wild Oats

You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.

Silicon Valley I: Disrupted

Monday, November 14th, 2016

book cover imageLyons, Daniel. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-up Bubble. Hachette Books, 2016.

Dan Lyons, once the anonymous author of the acerbic Fake Steve Jobs blog (2006-11) and now a writer on HBO’s Silicon Valley satire, hit a rough patch in 2013.  At 51 years old, he was suddenly downsized from his prestigious job as technology editor at Newsweek and decided to reinvent himself as a marketing professional at a startup.  His road to success is full of potholes and is the subject of his new book, Disrupted.

After sifting through a handful of opportunities, Lyons takes a job at a Boston startup, HubSpot, a cloud computing company, selling marketing automation software for businesses.  He accepts a lower salary but bets that his stock options will be worth money in a few years.  As Lyons settles into HubSpot, he finds the company and work culture mystifying.  Most of HubSpot’s 500 employees are in their 20s and relentlessly positive.  The culture is energetic, enthusiastic and loyal, but managers are poorly trained and oversight is haphazard.  Lyons’ cynicism about free candy, foosball tables and Fearless Fridays is a misfit.

Lyons describes HubSpot’s product as substandard and the leadership as a band of sales and marketing charlatans.  The two owners and a handful of investors are focused on growing sales and revenue and telling a heartfelt story about changing the world, while they stay in business long enough to get rich in an IPO, and then move on.  HubSpot is no anomaly – Lyons concludes that the new tech industry is run by young amoral hustlers.  In the epilogue, he explains that as he delivered the first draft of his book to the publisher, HubSpot executives hacked into his computer and broke into his house to steal his manuscript.

In the end, Lyons argues that in the tech industry, the social agreement that once existed between a company and its workers is gone.  Employees are disposable parts that play a role for a few years and then are replaced by someone cheaper just out of college.  Silicon Valley is leading the way, but as other industries are reshaped by technology, such as banking and media, they are also changing the way they treat workers.  This book is recommended for anyone interested in working or investing in the technology industry.

Also available as an audiobook on CD.


© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.