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The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story | [Michael Lewis]

The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story

In the weird glow of the dying millennium, Michael Lewis sets out on a safari through Silicon Valley to find the world's most important technology entrepreneur, the man who embodies the spirit of the coming age. He finds him in Jim Clark, who is about to create his third, separate, billion-dollar company: first Silicon Graphics, then Netscape - which launched the Information Age - and now Healtheon, a startup that may turn the $1 trillion healthcare industry on its head.
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Publisher's Summary

In the weird glow of the dying millennium, Michael Lewis sets out on a safari through Silicon Valley to find the world's most important technology entrepreneur, the man who embodies the spirit of the coming age. He finds him in Jim Clark, who is about to create his third, separate, billion-dollar company: first Silicon Graphics, then Netscape - which launched the Information Age - and now Healtheon, a startup that may turn the $1 trillion healthcare industry on its head.

Despite the variety of his achievements, Clark thinks of himself mainly as the creator of Hyperion, which happens to be a sailboat - not just an ordinary yacht, but the world's largest single-mast vessel, a machine more complex than a 747. Clark claims he will be able to sail it via computer from his desk in San Francisco, and the new code may contain the seeds of his next billion-dollar coup.

On the wings of Lewis' celebrated storytelling, the listener takes the ride of a lifetime through this strange landscape of geeks and billionaires. We get the inside story of the battle between Netscape and Microsoft; we sit in the room as Clark tries to persuade the investment bankers that Healtheon IS the new Microsoft; we get queasy as Clark pits his boat against the rage of the North Atlantic in winter. And in every brilliant anecdote and character sketch, Lewis is drawing us a map of markets and free enterprise in the 21st century.

©2001 Michael Lewis; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (219 )
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3.9 (86 )
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  •  
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 07-07-10
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 07-07-10 Member Since 2005

    Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.

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    "A fun book about Jim Clark"

    This book gently pokes fun at a man who one of the most widely acclaimed entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Jim Clark is not the richest man in Silicon Valley, or the richest tech entrepreneur, but he is widely regarded as the most entrepreneurial of the super-rich in Silicon Valley.

    The book presents him as a likable, slightly tormented, mild misfit. Of course he's a man of nuclear will; all great entrepreneurs are. But this book doesn't portray him as a bellicose tyrant, the way Steve Jobs is often portrayed. And it doesn't portray him as a borderline autistic, diabolical businessman, they way Bill Gates is often portrayed. The portrayal is closer to a character on the popular TV show, "The Big Bang Theory". There is something in the portrayal that it is funny and likable in a way that is similar to almost every geek I've ever known. In this regard the book is very well written. And the narration was excellent.

    On a personal note I inherited the office that Jim Clark inhabited as a grad student at the University of Utah, about a decade after him, where I too earned a Ph.D. in computer science. When I moved into the office I found a raincoat and an umbrella standing in the corner, made to look like a mannequin without the mannequin. It was referred to as the "Invisible Grad Student". Rummaging through the pockets of the raincoat I discovered an old printout, on old style computer paper, of the department student directory. Jim's name was highlighted. After asking around I discovered that it was widely believed that the Invisible Grad Student was the work of Jim Clark. But all that was known for sure was that it had at one time been his office. When I pointed out that this might be valuable and inquired about rather the department wanted to keep these artifacts in a safe place, the items were stolen. Since at that time all the grad students had keys to everybody else's office, the list of suspects was intra

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guillermo Santa CatarinaMexico 03-21-10
    Guillermo Santa CatarinaMexico 03-21-10
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    "Excellent"

    I really enjoyed this audiobook. Beautifully narrated. Especially the antitrust trials with microsoft. I must have gone back to that part about 10 times, very funny.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Mount Prospect, IL, USA 04-08-10
    William Mount Prospect, IL, USA 04-08-10
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    "Narrator must teach speed reading!"

    The book was good but I will avoid this narrator for now on. He reads way too fast, and I couldn't enjoy the book. I will have to read this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric LONG BEACH, CA, United States 02-13-14
    Eric LONG BEACH, CA, United States 02-13-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Desperately in need of editing; painful narration"
    Would you try another book from Michael Lewis and/or Bruce Reizen?

    Michael Lewis is a great author and I've enjoyed many of his books - both traditional and audible formats. This book doesn't seem to have the characteristic voice and insights of Lewis, perhaps reflecting the influence of Reizen.


    Has The New New Thing turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I'm a big fan of this non-fiction genre.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator attempts to give voices/accents to the individual characters in the story. The result is distracting and irritating. For example, his attempt to embody the Indian characters sounds half-way Irish and all the way irritating. I almost stopped listening to avoid being subjected to any more of this narration.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The New New Thing?

    The book itself is too long, punctuated by long descriptions of scenes of minute conversations or details that simply don't sufficiently add to the story to justify inclusion. I would edit the book by 20%. I would also replace the narration.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are a fan of Michael Lewis and looking for a book that reflects his quality of writing and insight, skip this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel DAVIS, CA, United States 11-12-12
    Daniel DAVIS, CA, United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2012
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    "An adequate story with an overzealous narrator..."

    The story of Jim Clark is very interesting, but it's hard to make an entire book on his effect on Silicon Valley, as well as differentiate how his interaction with Venture Capitalists is different than Google's or shaped a path that simply wasn't available previously. Michael Lewis does his best though, and it would make for a fun listen if not for a narrator that feels it's necessary to "perform" every character uniquely. The choices for accents and tones proves extremely distracting from the story, and affects the listeners appreciation of Michael Lewis' work.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lm Irmo, SC, United States 04-17-14
    lm Irmo, SC, United States 04-17-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Great text, HORRIBLE performance"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Seriously, this has got to be the WORST reading of an audiobook I've ever heard. I literally cannot enjoy and/or concentrate on the story because the reading is so bad. It's too fast, and too crisp--you can't relax into the story the way you can with most books (i.e., every other audiobook I've ever listened to).


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The New New Thing?

    Not going to spoil the book.


    What didn’t you like about Bruce Reizen’s performance?

    He spoke too quickly. Also, yeah it's great the guy can do voices, but those voices aren't really necessary if the listener can relax into the book. This man read as though he had no understanding of what he was reading--he read too quickly, with no inflection, and the only time he slowed down was when he did one of those voices, but by then he'd done such a horrible job on the lead-up that the voice ended up being more of a distraction than anything. I don't know if he's just normally a fast-talker or he had too much coffee that day, but holy crap it's horrible. You guys should commission a re-reading, seriously.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tsz Hong Kong, Hong Kong 05-27-13
    Tsz Hong Kong, Hong Kong 05-27-13
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    "Interesting and encouraging"
    What made the experience of listening to The New New Thing the most enjoyable?

    The voice performance was brilliant and bring out the anglo saxon perspective of a lot of silicon valley elements


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Alan Prior


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When they were on the boat and battling between engineer and software geek.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes, when Jim Clark was such a street kid and moved on.


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent book. Yet a little bit monotone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Vancouver, BC, Canada 10-30-12
    Alan Vancouver, BC, Canada 10-30-12 Member Since 2007

    I'm an engineer living in Vancouver, Canada.

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    "Another winner by Michael"
    What did you love best about The New New Thing?

    Getting to know Jim Clark through Michael's eye.


    What three words best describe Bruce Reizen’s performance?

    There was a point when I thought they had replaced Bruce as the sound of his voice changed significantly. It was okay but not sure I liked it that much. I always enjoy listening to the author narrate their own story.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I loved the story. An insight into an exciting time in Silicon Valley only a few get to see firsthand.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Chicago, IL, United States 10-02-12
    Jane Chicago, IL, United States 10-02-12 Member Since 2010
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    "2 stars for entertainment."

    3 stars for dry biographical information about a guy and the computer industry in the 1990s.

    I read three other nonfiction books by this author and was fascinated. But this book was not as entertaining. It was dry. It felt like newspaper journalism about one guy and his computer industry activities during the 1990s. It felt obsolete. His 1990s companies are no longer around or in the public eye. The author’s other books were entertaining because they showed people doing strange, outrageous, impressive, unexpected, shocking, stupid, or incompetent things. Those kinds of things don’t happen in this book. The best audience for this is someone wanting to study computer industry history.

    The author interviewed and accompanied Jim Clark. He interviewed people who knew or interacted with Jim. He read through Jim’s personal materials. The author did not show any criticisms or comments from Jim’s competitors or people who did not like him. It was almost as if the author felt gratitude for access and didn’t want to write anything negative. I could be all wrong, but I wondered.

    JIM’S STORY:
    Jim Clark had a difficult childhood. He joined the NAVY which helped him pay for college. He obtained a computer science Ph.D. He was a concept guy, thinking of new things and starting businesses. He expected others to finish things and keep them going. His company startups included Silicon Graphics, which created 3-D imaging used in movies (filed for bankruptcy in 2009), Netscape (killed by Microsoft), Healtheon (merged into Microsoft’s WebMD), and myCFO (sold to Harris Bank). I added the parentheses information. Some of that happened after this book was published. Jim was behind the first antitrust lawsuit filed against Microsoft. His companies initially made him a billionaire. For several years Jim spent a lot of time creating computer software to run his huge sailboat, Hyperion. The book probably spends too much time on the building and programming of that ship and its maiden voyage which had many computer problems.

    NARRATOR: Bruce Reizen was ok, but several times I felt he was speaking too fast – like he was running a race.

    GENRE: computer industry nonfiction, biography.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joshua Salt Lake City, UT, United States 05-17-11
    joshua Salt Lake City, UT, United States 05-17-11 Member Since 2009
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    "boooooring"

    it pains me to say it because i'm a huge michael lewis fan but this book is awful. unfinishable and believe me i really really tried. the strange thing is the concept of digging in to the characters and companies involved in the tech bubble sounds great and M.L. is just the person to do it, but it just didn't come out right. i didn't empathize with jim clark, the books central character, he's done big things so you'd think there would be material to work with but i didn't find him funny or interesting or brilliant. stick with "liars poker" "the big short", both 5 stars.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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