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Living on the Fault Line : Managing for Shareholder Value in the Age of the Internet Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 30, 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Geoffrey Moore's first two books, Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado, were gospel to a generation of high-tech managers. The challenge those books addressed was how to market and sell according to what he called the "Technology Adoption Life Cycle." In Living on the Fault Line, Moore takes his message to a very different group of execs, those who have never had to worry about marketing technology but who now face the biggest and most disruptive technology life cycle of all--the Internet.

Moore contends the Internet has changed everything, and he means it. As many companies are now discovering, market share is worth more than earnings; virtual integration trumps vertical integration; and the IT department, once relegated to a stuffy back office, is no longer "about the business--it is the business." The best proxy of a company's success? Try its stock price. Moore writes, "Stock price is in effect an information system about competitive advantage, it can help you sort through which markets to attack, which strategies to pursue, which partners to endorse, and which tactics to execute.... Capital, in other words, flows to competitive advantage and abandons competitive disadvantage."

For some, Moore's prescriptions may seem over the top. But those grappling for a handhold on the Internet economy will find much to ponder here. For example, managers faced with a scarcity of time and resources will find his analysis of core and context a powerful prism to manage by. He defines "core" as activities that differentiate a company in the marketplace and thereby drive its stock price. "Context" is simply everything else the company already does. His suggestion: assign your best people to the core and outsource as much of the context as possible.

If you've enjoyed Moore's previous work, you'll find Living on the Fault Line a must. If you've never read Moore before, get this on your bookshelf before your competition does. Engaging and highly readable, this one's a keeper. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Readers looking for "how to" advice, specific examples or more than introductory thinking about how to use a company's stock price as a management lever are bound to come away from this uninspired book disappointed. A consultant and venture capitalist, Moore (Crossing the Chasm; Inside the Tornado) begins by explaining why companies must focus on what they do best-but the concept of "core competencies" has been around for almost a decade. He then goes on to say shareholders reward firms that have a clear competitive advantage in the marketplace. But that idea's probably been around as long as stock markets themselves. The key to gaining that advantage today, Moore argues, is embracing the right technology. Only how can you tell which is the right one? Clearly, Sony thought it was on the right track when it created Beta, only to lose out to the VHS technology that governs most VCRs today, and the thousands of failed software companies dotting Silicon Valley must have thought they were on the right path when they opened their doors. What do all the failures have in common? Moore provides little in the way of answers. He concludes, again as others have before, by suggesting that companies must change their management styles as their core technology matures. But the point would be more telling if he had provided detailed examples of firms that have done that well and those that haven't. Only readers looking for an initial grounding in this area need apply. 6-city author tour; 15-city NPR radio campaign. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (May 30, 2000)
  • ISBN-10: 0887308880
  • ASIN: B000H2MQTE
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,760,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book combines the perspectives of many different books into one. As a result, the book operates at about 100,000 feet above sea level. Although the view is breathtaking, you can't see most of the details. For managers and executives, that means being left with concepts that they may have trouble implementing.
The first part is familiar material about how the Internet is changing business. It goes on to focus on the IT department of a traditional company as the weak link in responding to Internet opportunities and challenges.
The second part repeats Moore's shareholder value perspectives from The Gorilla Game (a book I liked much better than this one). Basically, he feels that management and the board should look at the level and direction of stock price as a litmus test on the company's strategy and implementation.
Part three hits the high points of relating well in the middle of creating a competitive advantage while technology is changing.
Part four discusses how top performance changes at times during a technological wave. This is probably the most interesting part of the book. It is quite well done.
Part five examines the key concept of focusing on what creates competitive advantage internally, and getting rid of everything else by outsourcing and partnering. I thought this was a little too simple. In many cases, your internal perspective may be the worst place to try to do key activities. For example, Wal-Mart reportedly began to do better with Internet development after it did more outsourcing in this core area. This section was really addressing The Innovator's Dilemma material and concepts.
Finally, how do you institutionalize the way your company will attack the Internet and future technologies?
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Format: Hardcover
The Internet is having a profound impact on the ways companies conduct their business. Nowhere is this change more profound than with traditional companies who have been successful many years, now faced by threat of a new Internet business in their market. Start ups with incredible market caps have completely turned markets upside down, often rendering the old ways of doing business obsolete, almost overnight.
In Living on the Fault Line, Geoffrey Moore presents an interesting premise: that because of the Internet, traditional businesses must play by a new set of rules, rules that are based on the technology adoption lifecycle that he originally presented in his first book, Crossing the Chasm.
He aruges quite successfully that these these companies need to understand new market dynamics and shareholder value, which is based on competitive advantage over time discounted for risk, versus the quarterly report, which he argues gives a limited view of a company's performance.
He also argues that the market valuations for some of these Internet companies are rational, and that shareholder value is the true metric of a company's performance. This section is particularly brillliant because it is understandable to people like me... my eyes usually glaze over with this stuff. Geoffrey makes it exciting, and understandable.
And then he gets into the issues that prevent large established companies from dealing with new compeitition moving at Internet speed. And just like Crossing the Chasm, the author also offers strategies that companies need to consider to regain their competitive advantage and in effect, re-cross the chasm, which for many, had been done the first time many years and even decades or so ago.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a little disappointed. This is a good book. I wanted it to be an important book. It is not.
Geoffery Moore is the clearest and most insightful thinker in the dynamics of technology markets. His application of the technology adoption life cycle and the concept of crossing the chasm is now the cornerstone of most technology marketing strategy.
In 'Living on the Faultline' Moore is applying his models and his thinking to more traditional business. He comes very close to succeeding. His review of the impact if the Internet, the role of IT, the importance of shareholder value, the thinking required to develop sustained competitve advantage and managing culture are all well done. His grasp of the Innovators Dilema is also very good.
I think that problem is that it is too soon to know. Using digital and network technology to creating innovative business model outside the technology business is new. The evidence for what works and what does not work is still uncertain.
Moore is a keen obsverer of structural dynamics. His models took the black magic out of technology strategy development. I hope that in his next book Moore has developed a new model to help managers understanding what is happening in their competitive environment.
In the mean time, 'Living on the Fault Line' serves as a good overview of the most important thinking in these areas.
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Format: Hardcover
Geoffrey Moore is one of the most interesting writers on management active today, and his work is usually more interesting to read than most of what's published. This book is no exception.
Moore is arguing that the Internet has, as a few commentators have already noticed, changed the face of business. Much of what he says is not new at this point--you don't need Moore to tell you that outsourcing is critical, and that the first-mover advantage is so important that many companies are sacrificing earnings for growth.
What is new, and what will be controversial, is Moore's discussion of stock price as a real-value indicator. He argues that because the stock price and trend is a real-time survey of the investing community, it is a useful guide to how well a company is doing. There is of course some truth in this (when the stock of a high-flyer tanks, it's a bad sign), but I and many others will no doubt question whether a high P/E means that the company is doing well, or whether its investor relations are simply outpacing the rate at which the market comes to understand these companies.
All in all, well worth reading, as it has much more real substance than many e-business books that are being published these days.
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