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 start-up 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 data center 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 start-up, 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 start-ups and credit derivatives to Big Brother, 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?
Bonus content: an exclusive interview featuring Antonio García Martínez in conversation with journalist and author Steven Levy.
©2016 Antonio Garcia Martinez (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."
Antonio Garcia Martinez has an axe to grind and grind it he does. Chaos Monkeys is vindictive, addictive, and sharp.
What's surprising is, along with the score settling, how much I learned about the tech world whose products I use every day. A thoughtful light is shone on the deals and analysis of Silicone Valley that you aren't going to see anywhere else. Despite the "disruptive," rumpled exterior, the business runs on the same greed and profit models as developers and Wall Street.
An entertaining and informative book to be heard with a salt cellar at the ready.
Antonio has wonderfully captured the embodiment of what it is like to work in Silicon Valley
Just finished reading this. Antonio has wonderfully captured the embodiment of what it is like to be an early stage startup employee, YC founder going through an acquihire and product manager running ads at FB while explaining the nuanced would of the behind the scenes would of digital advertising technology (adtech) that as he eloquently conveys turns attention into money. As someone with a similar path and having direct overlap with Antonio during my time at MoPub, I can attest that he does a balanced job of portraying the optimistic upside along with the disheartening downside of working at startups, acquisitions and political backstabbing that makes up the known but not public trust of life in the valley.
Imagine: a guy with pretty good, recent chops and very real, immersive experience (with actual deals reasonably described) in (1) Wall Street, (2) Silicon valley, and (3) the tech and legal stuff swirling around and through that. Give the fellow a tremendous facility with words and explanations, and just enough background in all sorts of literary and historical references to burnish (without becoming ponderous) these glib "fly on the wall" scene-by-scene descriptions. Thus girded, strap in for a ride through today's capitals of the sharpest action, with all the egos, fools and brainiacs hyperventilating through the scene on all sides. You are there: in the cockpit of a Silicon valley startup, blow by blow, fumblings and soaring adrenaline, lawyer jive and all. Stir in just enough humility so the whole thing stays pretty sweet and light, and doesn't descend into a (by now canonical for many such authors) Mussolini-esque travesty. If this is your cup of tea, toss this baby in the cart and burn through every delightful sentence. This guy is utterly who I would have been if I hadn't screwed around so much in my life. Now, granted, this is recent history, by a plenty smart guy, with the visionary pretense mercifully kept modest. Perhaps a wave of robotic AI change is already gestating in some labs nearby which will make all this fuzzy human-mediated stuff seem quaint in compressed time. In that case, we're all cooked anyway, so why not enjoy a good story? And the narrator just transparently floats into the words, with a sunny quality matching the author's (which is funny in itself given the hilarious scenes) so he seems to me like the actual seamless author. A good narrator (sorry Dan John Miller for this downmarket analogy) is like an excellent waiter: almost invisible but very competent and always just right.
This is a very entertaining account of the current tech environment which makes 2010 seem like decades ago. A fast paced, irreverent narrator takes us on his personal tumblr through the jungle and it is delicious. It's also a deeply provocative lesson in how the powers that be are harnessing our info, or not, and it might shatter some preconceived notions about who is doing what and why. A must read for anyone appreciating a front-row seat to the madness that is Silicon Valley, incubators, and unicorns.
Hits home honestly. As a silicon valley knowledge worker I found Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Martinez to be funny, savage and too-close-to-home depressing. The book is honest, brave and f-you-money frustrating. I listened to the audiobook. I expect I'll revisit to dig into some of the heavier material while skimming the cynicism and personal attacks.
The narration is excellent, and the story is compelling, even if a touch tedious at times (rarely). Even so, I burned through it in less than a week. Recommended if you care at all about the people and systems that build and run our digital lives.
I spent several years in SV and participated in the start-up madness. I think most everything the author said is true to some degree. However, in my time with 2 separate companies, I was surrounded by the most talented, hard working folks I had ever met. If you want to start a tech company (or otherwise any co.), I think this is a must read.
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