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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.

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  • Overall
  • Kenneth
  • LEESBURG, VA, United States
  • 07-07-10

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

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 11-01-16

Disruptions and Disruptors

“Never was a man’s love of risk so beautifully amplified by his environment as Clark’s was in Silicon Valley.”
― Michael Lewis, The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story

I did like Lewis' exploration of the relationship of Investment banking and the information technology companies that seemed to weed up in Silicon Valley during the late 90s. The normal venture technology relationship seemed to invert in Silicon Valley. Power shifted from the money men to the idea men, or perhaps not even the idea men, but the risk men, the development men. It was, and still is, a bit of an aberration in business space and time. This book focuses on Jim Clark, who ended up wet-nursing three different IT start-ups (Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and Healtheon).

Like his fellow Princeton New New Journalism master, John McPhee, Michael Lewis does a phenomenal job of finding and fleshing out the exact right person to serve as the locus for an even bigger story. This book is nominally focused on Jim Clark, but really is about the technology bubble of the late 1990s. Jim Clark just happens to be a near perfect example of the best and worst of that particular place and time in America's economy.

Not my favorite Lewis. Not because it isn't well written, but mainly subject matter. I'm more of a value man (Graham & Dodd), not a kamikaze investor. The whole idea of the New New thing is both interesting and a bit repellant to me. I love disruptive businesses, but I'm just not a fan of the smoke and mirrors of the early parts of these businesses.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric
  • LONG BEACH, CA, United States
  • 02-13-14

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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • DAVIS, CA, United States
  • 11-12-12

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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loved it

I suggest this book to anyone. It has helped me with a new sense of awareness.

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Good Story Ruined by bad narration

Good story about Jim Clark that is ruined by the narrator trying to give each character a unique voice. Interesting review of startups from the 90’s.

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about 40% silicon valley and 60% hero worship

I had expected more substance and research on what had and currently drives the valley... instead it was a puff piece to Jim Clark with some titbits of information about the culture then strewn about ... the author has gone to great lengths to glamorize and show how the computer revolution began and ended with his hero and I did not quite understand why he even talked about myCfo..the 3rd company Clark started... I was also surprised by several instances of racist overtones in the dialogues and the ridiculous rendition of accents by the narrator... quite disappointed

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Poor narration, Great Story

Love Michael Lewis and he delivers a very interesting story of the why and what of when Silicon Valley gave birth to the Internet Economy through Jim Clark. Absolutely fascinating.

Only problem with this audio book is the narrator. He reads way too fast, is too monotone and towards the end, loses his voice so the reading sounds gravelly in a less-comprehensible rather than cool way. He also attempts to ethnically sound like the characters and he does this rather comically. For example, for the Indian programmers he tries to imitate he comes off as a southern hick trying to imitate a heavily accented and stereotyped Indian. The imitation is both comical and insulting. If this book had a decent narrator, it would so much better.

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Not as good as his Wall Street books.

I enjoyed Flash Boys and The Big Short. Those stories had me looking forward to each commute to find out what happened next. I grew tired the repetitive description of the protagonist's personality by the middle of the book but hung on hoping you would get better. The voice talent was amazing however and kept my interest.