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The New New Thing : A Silicon Valley Story Hardcover – October 20, 1999
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Much of The New New Thing, to be fair, is devoted to the Healtheon story. It's just that Jim Clark doesn't do startups the way most people do. "He had ceased to be a businessman," as Lewis puts it, "and become a conceptual artist." After coming up with the basic idea for Healtheon, securing the initial seed money, and hiring the people to make it happen, Clark concentrated on the building of Hyperion, a sailboat with a 197-foot mast, whose functions are controlled by 25 SGI workstations (a boat that, if he wanted to, Clark could log onto and steer--from anywhere in the world). Keeping up with Clark proves a monumental challenge--"you didn't interact with him," Lewis notes, "so much as hitch a ride on the back of his life"--but one that the author rises to meet with the same frenetic energy and humor of his previous books, Liar's Poker and Trail Fever.
Like those two books, The New New Thing shows how the pursuit of power at its highest levels can lead to the very edges of the surreal, as when Clark tries to fill out an investment profile for a Swiss bank, where he intends to deposit less than .05 percent of his financial assets. When asked to assess his attitude toward financial risk, Clark searches in vain for the category of "people who sought to turn ten million dollars into one billion in a few months" and finally tells the banker, "I think this is for a different ... person." There have been a lot of profiles of Silicon Valley companies and the way they've revamped the economy in the 1990s--The New New Thing is one of the first books fully to depict the sort of man that has made such companies possible. --Ron Hogan
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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To my utter surprise, the book was not only entertaining, but it brought to my attention some facts about the world that I live in that I had never fully realised:
1) You can choose to be a down and out misfit on the road to nowhere, or you can choose to show 'em all and make something of your life
2) Having decided to do something, there is no actual limit to how big you can think
3) An individual can actually swing the entire economy and all of its big established companies around to a different agenda and different competitive landscape
4) If you are blessed/cursed with the kind of mind that loves to dwell in "pure possibility", is never satisfied with the way things are and can always see how they could be, do what Jim Clark does - get on with changing the world! Actions speak louder than words.
5) Engineers have finally realised that they should be more fairly compensated, relative to the amount of value they create in the economy. The consequence of this is that financiers, who really don't understand what or how an engineer does what he does, must now compete to get a piece of the action. A financier, even if he has infinite money, cannot personally create anything of tangible value with his financial skills. Contrast this to what an engineer with good skills can create and you realise that what really counts is the creation of tangible things that make the human condition somehow better.Read more ›
The problem with "The New New Thing" is that Michael Lewis is not critical enough of Jim Clark. Jim Clark certainly was generous to Michael Lewis by letting him tag along on so many of his adventures, and it would probably have been inapproriate for Lewis to be more critical of his subject. But, this doesn't make it an interesting book.
If you're looking for the "Liar's Poker" of the Internet, try Michael Wolf's "Burn Rate," or Po Bronson's "Nudist on the Late Shift," both of which contain much more interesting people, much more information about the internet revolution, and much more cynicisim.
There were two parts of the book I particularly loved: First, the part on the engineers from India was compelling. These kids grow up on the brink of starvation and work their tails off to make it to Silicon Valley to seek their dreams. The book keenly demonstrates how Jim Clark is able to harness these kind of people and let their talents operate in the most productive way, and also make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Second, the best part of the book was the second to last chapter, about how Jim Clark came from absolute poverty in Texas. Clark had to defend his mother from his drunken father, and his mother had only $5 a month after the bills were paid. The book keenly demonstrates how Clark's sense of anarchy and adventure led him to rise far above the hand he was dealt in life.
The story of how Clark has made 3 different billion dollar companies is amazing, and even more amazing is that he is using his talents to create a fourth company instead of only sailing his crazy boat.
You'll learn a lot when you read this book, it will inspire you, and you'll enjoy it. Read it soon, before the next new new thing makes it irrelevant.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The New New Thing by Michael Lewis is Lewis' take on Silicon Valley in the time around the end of the millennium. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Du Nguyen
Simply not as interesting of a topic as past books by Lewis.Published 3 months ago by Brandon Wozniak
I have read three Michael Lewis books, Liar's Poker, Flash Boys and The New New Thing so I obviously like Michael Lewis. Read morePublished 5 months ago by James Simon
Love all of Michael's books. This is no exception. Great quality, Good Buying experience.Published 5 months ago by GeoAggie
Easy to read page-turner, capturing the quixotic character of Jim Clark that few know but have experienced first hand when they fire up a computerPublished 5 months ago by James Euclid