Author(s): Antonio García MartínezDownload
Publish: Published June 28th 2016 by Harper
ISBN: ISBN 0062458191 (ISBN13: 9780062458193)
Liar’s Poker meets The Social Network in an irreverent exposé of life inside the tech bubble, from industry provocateur Antonio García Martínez, a former Twitter advisor, Facebook product manager and startup founder/CEO.
The reality is, Silicon Valley capitalism is very simple:
Investors are people with more money than time.
Employees are people with more time than money.
Entrepreneurs are the seductive go-between.
Marketing is like sex: only losers pay for it.
Imagine a chimpanzee rampaging through a datacenter powering everything from Google to Facebook. Infrastructure engineers use a software version of this “chaos monkey” to test online services’ robustness—their ability to survive random failure and correct mistakes before they actually occur. Tech entrepreneurs are society’s chaos monkeys, disruptors testing and transforming every aspect of our lives, from transportation (Uber) and lodging (AirBnB) to television (Netflix) and dating (Tinder). One of Silicon Valley’s most audacious chaos monkeys is Antonio García Martínez.
After stints on Wall Street and as CEO of his own startup, García Martínez joined Facebook’s nascent advertising team, turning its users’ data into profit for COO Sheryl Sandberg and chairman and CEO Mark “Zuck” Zuckerberg. Forced out in the wake of an internal product war over the future of the company’s monetization strategy, García Martínez eventually landed at rival Twitter. He also fathered two children with a woman he barely knew, committed lewd acts and brewed illegal beer on the Facebook campus (accidentally flooding Zuckerberg’s desk), lived on a sailboat, raced sport cars on the 101, and enthusiastically pursued the life of an overpaid Silicon Valley wastrel.
Now, this gleeful contrarian unravels the chaotic evolution of social media and online marketing and reveals how it is invading our lives and shaping our future. Weighing in on everything from startups and credit derivatives to Big Brother and data tracking, social media monetization and digital “privacy,” García Martínez shares his scathing observations and outrageous antics, taking us on a humorous, subversive tour of the fascinatingly insular tech industry. Chaos Monkeys lays bare the hijinks, trade secrets, and power plays of the visionaries, grunts, sociopaths, opportunists, accidental tourists, and money cowboys who are revolutionizing our world. The question is, will we survive?
Some Reviews: 8,139 ratings 801 reviews in Goodreads.com
A non-fiction, irreverent look at Facebook, Twitter, and a start-up called AdGrok and all the venture capital drama that entails, in Silicon Valley in the first decade or so of the 21st century. The author founded a start-up called AdGrok which was one of the players who figured out how to tie together all your web activity to ad space. In other words, he’s behind the creepy “I just searched for this and now it’s in my sidebar” phenomenon.The author is super-irreverent, and one can’t help but wonder if massive crowds of rich geeks are now going to be hunting him down after his numerous negative portrayals of many, many people in this book. The author got out of the industry, and is now sailing around the world, and therefore is in a position of “I don’t care” and he never needs to work in this town again, so that somewhat explains it.
For someone who has lived and worked in Silicon Valley in the I.T. industry, this was almost a must-read. The places and companies were very familiar. And, it confirms mine and probably many people’s impression that there’s a lot of “fake it till you make it” going on, particularly with those in charge of the venture capital allocations. The geeks behind-the-scenes making it all work, on the other hand, are indeed hard-working arguable geniuses who never leave their desks.
There was a lot of interesting info about how Facebook evolved over the years, and how smartphones changed their game plan (particularly with ads and marketing). This is what is known as “pivoting,” and there’s a lot of it in this book. An astounding amount. An amount that makes you think “hey, nobody has any idea what they’re doing.”
This book is long, right at 500 pages so you can only imagine that it will be hit or miss at times. Definitely only for those who are greatly interested instead of mildly interested in the tech journey of Antonio Garcia Martinez as he sold his own start up then later went to work for Facebook (after screwing Twitter on a deal involving him–he later went back to Twitter Silicon Valley being incestuous and all).Antonio is, to put it nicely, a puerco. Though a puerco who is Jesuit educated (extensive Bible verses and history lessons are sprinkled throughout the book) with refined taste. We definitely get his take on women, as he doesn’t hide his misogyny at all, always breaking women down by their looks and, unlike the men in the book, never giving them a name, real or pseudonym. No, all the women in Chaos Monkeys get superficial sounding titles, like British Trader, as to give them a real name would obviously create too much humanity for a creature he can’t seem to fully connect with on a real level. Thus if you choose to read this book be aware of how obnoxious he can be.
Still, I feel there’s a lot of interesting info between these pages. His days on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs gave interesting parallels between tech and traditional business that I found interesting. This was especially interesting when Facebook IPOed which happened during his time there. Since Antonio doesn’t hold back you get the real deal viewpoint from him on anything and everything. If anything this book is definitely interesting.
This book was hard to put down; the writing is lively, and this guy’s mind is very sharp. The first half/two thirds, as he narrates an audacious and wry start-up rise, is a lot stronger than the less visceral, more wry part about his time at Facebook. There’s just a lot more at stake early on, and you feel that difference. Even there, though, he’s great at communicating the nuts and bolts, as well as the stakes, of a world I didn’t know anything about. Is the prose a little heavy-handed and his persona super stylized? Sure. That’s also a lot of why this is a good book.Martinez is very well-qualified by his experiences to write this book, but I imagine many many people have stories of their time in the trenches of Silicon Valley. What makes this a great read is what a supreme noticer he is. He doesn’t call himself a conservative in the book (though you could pick it up from the overwrought manliness, of which women are often the target), but he has the counterrevolutionary’s gift for intuitively grasping gradations of social status. Like nobles biding their time after the French revolutionary war, little is lost on Garcia Martinez, and when his turn comes to write the story, the power dynamics are fresh in mind. Anyone who wields or aspires to power in this book gets an incisive portrait from our somewhat scoundrelly, world-wise, and score-settling protagonist. The book is good, folks.
A very well-written book by a guy who’s probably as much of an asshole as you might expect someone would be who spent his early career at both Goldman Sachs and Facebook (and continues to brag about both on his jacket-blurb,) always searching for that elusive stash of “fuck you money,” and sucking up to the reigning attitudes of the Silicon Valley ethos (which is, amorality, betrayal, and connivance lurk at every turn.) You have to like the writing even as you come to hate the writer for his adherence to the lack of any core values he seems to be exposing in his life, as through his narratives. I live right here in the armpit of it all, only less than a mile from one of Google’s big “campuses” (although what learning really goes on in that place, who knows? who cares, either!) and it’s people like Martinez who represent all I have come to loathe about what these sorts of companies have done, and are doing, to cultural life on the San Francisco Peninsula. Grubby little greedsters rooting about inside their corporate playpens, dishing out platitudes from behind their arrested immaturity. Well, maybe the guy made his “fuck you money” when he signed the deal for this book, although, if my familiarity with the publishing world would tell me, it probably wasn’t much, and as anything, it’s also pro-rated against actual sales. Good luck, dude!
Do you remember the movie Hancock, where Will Smith was a superhero? Remember how it felt like they slapped two different plots together and the only thing linking them together was Will Smith. Unfortunately, they screwed it up and that movie sucked. Fortunately, this book feels like Hancock done right.Chaos Monkeys chronicles the life and times of Antonio Martinez as he makes money at Goldman Sachs but is unsatisfied, makes less money at a startup and is unsatisfied, starts his own company and is unsatisfied, and finally works for a major tech company and, you guessed it, is unsatisfied. Did you notice a pattern there? The beauty of having such a guy tell his story is that you get to see everything that can go wrong go wrong, and in spectacular fashion too. And that makes for a good story.
This book is a fun read if you just want to hear an interesting story. It is an informative read if you want to see what kind of politics go on in the Valley. And it is, surprisingly so, a pretty good introduction to how ad technology works in the digital age. There was only one real complaint I had with this book and that was that I kept having to look up words as I read. While initially frustrating, you get used to it and end up with a slightly better vocabulary by the end of the book.