Valley of Genius

Narrated by: Pete Larkin
Length: 18 hrs and 53 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (292 ratings)

Audible membership

$14.95 a month

Free with a 30-day trial
1 audiobook of your choice.
A monthly selection of Audible Originals.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.65

Buy for $29.65

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

A candid, colorful, and comprehensive oral history that reveals the secrets of Silicon Valley - from the origins of Apple and Atari to the present day clashes of Google and Facebook, and all the start-ups and disruptions that happened along the way.

Rarely has one economy asserted itself as swiftly - and as aggressively - as the entity we now know as Silicon Valley. Built with a seemingly permanent culture of reinvention, Silicon Valley does not fight change; it embraces it, and now powers the American economy and global innovation.

So how did this omnipotent and ever-morphing place come to be? It was not by planning. It was, like many an empire before it, part luck, part timing, and part ambition. And part pure, unbridled genius...

Drawing on over 200 in-depth interviews, Valley of Genius takes listeners from the dawn of the personal computer and the Internet, through the heyday of the web, up to the very moment when our current technological reality was invented. The audiobook interweaves stories of invention and betrayal, overnight success and underground exploits, to tell the story of Silicon Valley like it has never been told before. These are the stories that Valley insiders tell each other: the tall tales that are all, improbably, true.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Adam Fisher (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"This is the most important book on Silicon Valley I've read in two decades. It will take us all back to our roots in the counterculture, and will remind us of the true nature of the innovation process, before we tried to tame it with slogans and buzzwords." (Po Bronson, The New York Times best-selling author of Top Dog and NurtureShock)

"Valley of Genius is a blast - it's like eavesdropping on a huge party of all the hackers, thinkers and creators that built our digital world. Every page has some crazy detail I never knew before; I couldn't put it down." (Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think)

"A fantastic read! Adam Fisher's history of Silicon Valley is compelling and thorough, full of fascinating and inspiring stories carefully curated by someone who truly knows his stuff. Should be on every entrepreneur's desk!" (Ben Mezrich, The New York Times best-selling author of The Accidental Billionaires)

More from the same

What listeners say about Valley of Genius

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    173
  • 4 Stars
    70
  • 3 Stars
    22
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    21
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    129
  • 4 Stars
    69
  • 3 Stars
    32
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    13
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    167
  • 4 Stars
    55
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    11

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jd
  • 07-21-18

Annoying to listen to

The way the book was put together does not make it easy to listen to. Each chapter is just a bunch of people, each with their own quote, put together in a way to try to tell a fluid story.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Difficult

The format of each speaker being announced before a quotation makes for a poor audiobook experience.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very difficult listen

The book is more like a transcript identifying the speaker before each sentence, so you dont get a flowing story. It is very painful to listen to. This could be a great book with interesting stories but misses the opportunity.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, but terribly produced.

Super hard to listen to. the narrator was dubbed often with someone else at a different volume. just terrible.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

this book is a train wreck

having worked in silicon valley for 20+ years, i expected to enjoy this book. i know or have known a few of the people interviewed for the book. in spite of that, i just did not appreciate the approach, the input or the conclusions. for me, it reflects very little of what i know to be silicon valley. further, this is not a book, exactly. it is basically a transcript of interviews with some talented people, some of whom did not/do not work in the valley. it is impossibly difficult to follow as the reader just yells out a name and then recounts their words.

in the preface, the author spoke of how he had literally cut up transcribed interviews and taped them into a layout. that is what it sounded like to me. no cohesive anything. just constant abrupt lines as if one is table reading a play but with only one actor.

i am embarrassed for the author and reader.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fun Perspective

After you get comfortable to the style of constant quotes, it's a personable way to hear about the start of the internet and these companies. Even if you know a lot about them, it's a fun perspective and a lot of interesting details are mentioned. The author does a good job with the flow of the quotes and I blitzed through it in a day.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good book, not so great performance

The material was good but the performance was choppy at best. Nature of the material introduced a lot of edits and you can hear that with the book. The sound is uneven with the edits and at times even jarring. In spite of the production problems, still enjoyed the book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Unlistenable

The whole book is just a series of quotes. Read it physically. The audiobook is unlistenable.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

too many names

the story is so broken by listing names that it destroys the story. it seems like every sentence is preceded by the name of the person who said it. I found it distracting from a subject I find very interesting. I recommend the print version.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Rivetting content, terrible production

The book's greatest strength is it's content. it's an interesting view of the history of Silicon Valley. Hearing from the likes of Alan Kay, Jobs etc. added to the "inside out" perspective.
The production quality however was poor, jarring and painful. Getting through the early chapters was an absolute torture. Poor audio editing plagues the book, with abrupt and badly done audio corrections often ruining the experience.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rob Sedgwick
  • Rob Sedgwick
  • 11-03-18

Unusual format but works well

This is a very interesting story, especially if you have lived through a lot of it even at a distance as most British readers will have done. The author has basically taken other people's words and presented them as a continual dialogue. Nobody ever says more than a few sentences, but it's a very coherent and continual storyline even though Adam Fisher the writer never adds anything of his own (or very little, nothing that I recall anyway) and every snippet (presumably) was said in a completely different context to the one presented. I have never heard a book in this format before. The narrator doesn't use different voices for each person (there are too many so pointless trying) but he prefixes each snippet with the person's name. It works well and I soon more or less ignore the name and just treated it as one continuous story, which is essentially the idea behind the book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Paul Thompson
  • Paul Thompson
  • 10-21-18

Persevere with the quote nature or skip

The constant quote nature of the first couple of chapters is rather annoying. However, after these chapters it gets more narrated in nature so is more pleasurable to listen too.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rushdog
  • Rushdog
  • 04-19-20

Great story let down by narrator

I love these stories of silicon valley. I can't get enough of the maverick engineers that changed business type stories. This book is a set of interviews, like a talking head interview TV show, and is a great insight into what went on back in the early days of tech. The big let down of this book is the narrator, which is a tough job no doubt. Firstly he has an American accent, which I find distracting. It's the monotone, almost robotic way he talks that takes you out of the story of the book. For instance, there's a character called R. U. Serious (silicon valley right?). The narrator has to say their name ever time they have a speaking part in the talking head interview. Maybe they taped him saying it once and just cut it into the recording, but the repetition and the way he said it drove me nuts!
I'm looking forward to buying the book and reading it for myself, although I'm sure I'll have his voice in my head as I read it!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anthony Eales
  • Anthony Eales
  • 01-21-19

Uncensored Look at the History of Silicon Valley

I listened to this over a few months. Was a great read. I learnt so much in the early years of Silicon Valley. If you are after a solid history of Wired Magazine this is your book. But there was a lot of other chapters outlining the histories of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, ebay, Atari and many more as told by the key figures in each of their histories.

I found this book highly entertaining and informative. The uncensored aspect was a twist and lots of fun. Sex, drugs and...

...technology I guess. And stay tuned for the epilogue for these great minds' take on the future of technology and Silicon Valley. You'll get 15 and a half hours of great content before it. I also enjoyed the quotes format where nearly all of the book was made up of quotes from people who were there. I understand the author conducted extensive interviews.

I'd also recommend the Valley of Genius podcast as a chaser on the TWiT podcast network.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jo Maartens
  • Jo Maartens
  • 10-04-18

Silicon's inspiration

Memorable moment: looking ahead, past VR towards MR and coexistence with AI and robotics. Thoroughly enjoyable.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Michael
  • Michael
  • 08-23-19

Difficult to understand

The first book I have given a poor review to and I really wanted to like it. Conceptually it sounds fantastic but it is a series of anecdotes from people who were there during the formation and growth of silicon valley.

Maybe it's just me but I find it very discordant and hard to establish a solid narrative through the initial chapters and gave up after a few hours.

It would have been much better if there were distinct themes in each chapter and the anecdotes were used to punctuate the story.

Disappointing as I think it could be a lot better if it was more cogently structured.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 01-28-19

Riveting

I love all things tech and this gave me such valuable insight to the history of tech development and those key figures with in it. It's a must have!