Chaos Monkeys

If there is one “entity” that has fascinated America – and likely the world – it’s Silicon Valley. It’s where we look for innovation, for cutting-edge ideas, and for the products and services that influence our lives. While Silicon Valley is a catch-all phrase for both a region and an industry, to paraphrase the Willie Nelson song, “It is always on our mind.”

But what do we really know about Silicon Valley? The answer is: Not much. Now, Antonio Garcia Martinez has written and insider’s account: Chaos Monkeys. Here is part of what David Streitfeld offers in his review of Martinez’s book that really does take you deep inside Silicon Valley:

“The literature of Silicon Valley is exceedingly thin. The tech overlords keep clear of writers who are not on their payrolls or at least in their thrall. Many in the valley feel that bringing the digital future to the masses is God’s work. Question this, and they tend to get touchy. Anger them, and they might seek revenge. The billionaire investor Peter Thiel, outed by the local arm of the Gawker media empire, secretly financed a lawsuit to destroy it. Silicon Valley did not rise en masse and say this was seriously beyond the pale. No surprise, then, that there are so few books investigating what it really takes to succeed in tech (duplicity often trumps innovation) or that critically examine such omnipresent, comforting fables as “We’re not in it for the money.””

“Antonio García Martínez’s Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, a book whose bland all-purpose title belies the fact that this is a valley account like no other. The first hint that something is different here comes with the dedication: “To all my enemies: I could not have done it without you.” This is autobiography as revenge, naming names and sparing few, certainly not the author. “I was wholly devoid of most human boundaries or morality,” he notes in passing. In other words, he was a start-up chief executive.”

“The heart of the book is the period García Martínez spent at his start-up, which was intended to allow small businesses to efficiently advertise on Google. It was an auspicious moment. While the rest of the world was struggling to recover from the recession, the office parks of the valley were full of aggressive young men who had made pots of money by being early employees of Google. To prove they were not merely lucky, they needed to score again. Everyone was terrified of missing the next Facebook or, a little later, the next Airbnb or Uber. Smart entrepreneurs capitalized on these fears.”

A thought provoking insider’s view? You can read the full article here