Book Review: Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley 1

Here is a recent review of “Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

4.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse into the inner workings of Silicon Valley startups, March 18, 2017

Stories of Silicon Valley are a must read for entrepreneurs, startup founders and techies. Chaos Monkeys, as the title promises, is a reflection on “random failure” experienced by the author, Martinez, who finds himself in the trenches at Silicon Valley after a stint on Wall Street. With his flair for writing and blogging, Antonio Garcia Martinez capitalizes on this demand for startup stories.

The first section explores the world of Silicon Valley incubators and small start-ups, based on Antonio experience with Y-Combinator and his startup AdGrok. Written in a folksy manner, it is a fast-paced account of life at the trenches in a Silicon Valley Startup and the reader is bound to get a glimpse of the inner workings of a “typical” venture funded Silicon Valley startup. The narrative includes a rather candid account of his experiences at AdGrok, and includes the eventual business-suicide and skullduggery that Antonio commits against his co-founders and Y-C mentor Paul Graham, when it comes time to sell-out the start-up.

From the Blurb: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. 

Sprinkled with theoretical ramblings – author’s views on Socialism and Capitalism, drawing from his early childhood in Fidel Castro’s Cuba – and peppered with sexual innuendo and 4-5 letter words, the first half is a fast-paced read. In this section, Antonio also attempts to show his “human side” with a narrative of his on-and-off relationship with a “British trader,” with whom he has two children.

The second section is a feeble attempt to explore the “obscene fortune” made by a select few in the Silicon Valley. In this section, Antonio talks about his time at Facebook where he finds himself after selling out his partners and rest of AdGrok to Twitter. The theme of this section was rather clichéd and predictable: David (Antonio) finds himself taking on with Goliath (Facebook bureaucracy), though he is unable to convince his boss/es of the value of his ad-generation idea. Realizing his predicament – being a misfit product manager at a larger startup-turned-unicorn – Antonio decides to bide time thru his two-year vesting by attempting to push ahead with his ideas and chasing co-workers of the fairer sex. During this time, Antonio gets to observe what “obscene fortune” does to some of his FB Vested in Peace (VIPs) colleagues during and after its IPO. The redeeming part of the second section is the rather satisfying anti-climactic ending, where Antonio muses about his ‘karma’ and fortune gained and lost in the startup world.

Pick up this book if you want a glimpse into Silicon Valley startups and are willing to skim through the theoretical ramblings and sexual expletives.

– Book reviewed on by our editor, Mohan

You may also be interested in our section on “10 books every small business owner and entrepreneur needs to read”  The list includes the list of “best books Bill Gates read in 2016

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