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The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest: A Novel
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Prior to their collaboration, Bronson authored five books, including What Should I Do with My Life?, a #1 New York Times bestseller with more than ten months on the list. He has been on Oprah, on every national morning show, and on the cover of five magazines, including Wired and Fast Company. His first novel, Bombardiers, was a #1 bestseller in the United Kingdom. His books have been translated into 20 languages. Po speaks regularly at colleges and community "town hall" events. He is a founder of The San Francisco Writer's Grotto, a cooperative workspace for writers and filmmakers. He also serves as volunteer president of the San Francisco Vikings Youth Soccer League. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.
Top Customer Reviews
Perhaps having seen the rather burlesque film version of this novel, I naively was expecting more bells and whistles and a more thorough troncing of rival engineer and threat Benoit. It never came, but perhaps that is due to the fact that I know nothing about the world of Silicon Valley where Bronson's could-be spoofs on the computer industry's behind the scenes star would lose their bite. Happily, the novel does not force a romance between Caspar and his housemate as in the movie version; here the attraction is noted and the reader can use his imagination to determine the outcome. Thank you, Po.
All in all, I enjoyed the novel; I just wish it had a longer ending.
The depiction of computer nerds strikes me as realistic and sympathetic, although I'm sure not all Silicon Valley geeks appreciate the portraits. I also liked another realistic touch: there is no sex in the novel, and almost no women characters. This contrasts well with the other Silicon Valley start-up novel, Douglas Coupland's Microserfs, which starts out with a terrific portrait of life as a sleep-deprived minion of Bill Gates, then degenerates into a pilot for a sit-com that could be pitched as "It's like the cast of 'Friends' starts a software company."
I was especially impressed by how Bronson set up certain characters to be the villians of the plot, then showed us that from inside their heads they see themselves, with some justification, as the good guys. The conclusion is quite surprising: the most Machiavellian of the bad guys gets exactly what he was conniving for (a huge investment by a venture capital firm), then has to live with the bureaucratic consequences. I ended up feeling quite sorry about his plight.
Bronson is probably the most true-blue member of the small School of Wolfe (Richard Price is the senior member, with Jay McInerney floating in and out).Read more ›
La Honda is a research center staffed by "ironmen" (the author's term for hard-core engineers) who want to design and build the latest and greatest technology (not for the money, but for the pride and thrill to be the first). At the time the story starts, the latest and greatest was a processor called the 686 (a spoof on the Intel Pentium's successor). Francis Benoit is the lead designer for this chip. Ever since the beginning, he's had a grudge against Omega Logic (a chip maker that sponsors several of La Honda's projects including the 686) for "dumbing down" his previous chip (the Falcon). He had designed the Falcon to be exponentially faster than its predecessor and capable of doing parallel processing. But because of business reasons, Omega only used one of the two chips being shipped with every system while charging a higher premium. That made the world think Francis wasn't able to deliver what he promised. He will stop at nothing to make sure this never happens to him again.
Andy Caspar is the main protagonist of the story. He's an ex-employee of Omega, and a new employee at La Honda. All his life, he's wanted to develop software, but his first project was to do testing. He exelled at this. Naturally, when he had a chance to work on the 686 he quickly jumped in only to be talked down by Francis to work on another project (the sub-$300 machine) to guarantee him another year at La Honda. Little does he know that what he thought was a hopeless project would end up forcing him (and his three other teammembers) to part ways with La Honda and try to start up their own business.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Po Bronson is Silicon Valley's Michael Lewis. Po Bronson does with this novel what Scott Adams did with comic strips. Read morePublished on April 17, 2007 by Righthalf
I read this book when I was straight out of the university. And man what an influence it had over me! Read morePublished on December 14, 2006 by Amarsh
Po Bronson is a major non-fiction writer of our tgime-- he was a feature writer for WIRED and has written for NY Times Magazine, Forbes ASAP and more-- He knows the culture. Read morePublished on August 3, 2006 by Joyce Schwarz
Bad characters, inane and obvious plot and zero writing style make this one of the worst books I've ever had the misfortune to read. Read morePublished on December 2, 2003 by Jason Butler
The moment I picked up this book I found it hard to put down. Bronson does an excellent job of giving all the characters a deep background, and weaves them into a fantastic story... Read morePublished on June 12, 2003 by N. Farber
Po Bronson had me up all night with this book. I couldn't put it down. If you are interested in how corporate life works and doesn't work, this is a great read.Published on April 9, 2003
'The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest' is the story of 4 geeks trying to get their start-up off the ground. Read morePublished on October 31, 2002 by Travis J Smith
Great entertainment. Before you begin reading, a caveat. This book was written in 1997 so don't expect cutting edge insider views. Read morePublished on August 5, 2002 by Anthony Rodriguez
I read this book in one sitting. I didn't want it to end. Great dialogue, funny, held my interest. Well written. Read morePublished on February 10, 2002 by Adriane