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Eat People: And Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs Hardcover – February 3, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kessler (Running Money) has interviewed technology billionaires and game changers like Michael Dell and Mark Zuckerberg in an attempt to determine what their success has in common, and combines this empirical data with his own impressive experience for his latest book. Kessler knows his industry, and understands business (though most of his ideas can be found elsewhere). He approaches his subject with an irreverent, cocky attitude that will likely divide readers, and gives advice that comes heavily colored by his own political and philosophical outlook; while he doesn't come right out and say it, he's clearly a fan of Ayn Rand and is quick to accuse environmentalists or anyone concerned over the impact of industry on the planet as both blocking progress and mooching off of the successful. Readers who can move past his derisive ideology will find Kessler's ideas useful. And his big questions will help would-be entrepreneurs figure out if their new idea is good, bad, or revolutionary.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; 1st edition (February 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591843774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591843771
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #764,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 2003, Andy Kessler wrote a piece titled "Warren Buffett hates your guts." (You can find it easily by doing a 'Buffett' search on Kessler's website.) In this piece, Kessler gives the reasons he despises the Oracle of Omaha -- five digit stock price, a miserly attitude towards compensation and stock options, a love of the insurance business and dead or dying industries, and an embrace of taxation and population control.

Buffett, in Kessler's view, is the opposite of productive -- a tight-fisted scavenger with an eye for political moats and hoary old businesses that do not create wealth.

I bring this up here because "Eat People" is Kessler's Anti-Buffett Manifesto... his recipe for investing in exactly the type of companies Buffett wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

An alternative subtitle for the book might be "A Dozen Ways to Unleash Creative Destruction," an essential thread being that, to the degree the past stands in the way of the future, we have to destroy it. That means tearing down all kinds of old barriers: Destroying obsolete jobs, obsolete moats, obsolete relationships. At his most extreme, Kessler seems to revel in a sort of destroy-or-be-destroyed philosophy where nothing is sacred and everything is moving towards free.

There is good stuff here, though some of it was perhaps explained better (and less controversially) in earlier books. Kessler's "Running Money," for example, explored the waterfall concept, where a vertical drop in the cost of a technology can lead to exponential gains in market share.

So "Eat People" is not a book of new ideas, but more a culmination of Kesslerisms -- trend-based insights built over decades of observation (and investment participation) in the technology space.
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Format: Hardcover
I personally learned and gained a ton from this book - as a software startup guy myself, it really helped open my mind and eyes to the patterns that lead to successful technology ventures, products, and companies. There are key lessons in Eat People for anyone who works for, invests in, and/or starts their own technology companies.

Think raising prices is a good thing? Think again - Kessler highlights examples of companies that did exactly what Wall St wanted them to do by raising prices (and boosting profits) - and they ended up getting their lunch eaten!

Another key concept he opened my eyes to is why companies do things "because they can." Meaning that if something can be given away for free, it will be - simply because the creator can do it. The moral is that you need to add value upstream, rather than milk profits in something that can (and likely will) be commoditized.

The chapter about scale - which is also revisited throughout the book - is worth reading several times over. Kessler made a fortune for investors in his wildly successful hedge fund by identifying technologies and tech companies that found scale. Scale is what separates the winners (actually the huge winners, like Intel, Facebook, Google) from the losers in the tech world.

Also, Kessler was kind enough to allow me to interview him about the key concepts in the book - here's a link if you'd like to have a read:
[...]
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Format: Hardcover
Andy Kessler has views about the modern economy and what works best that irritate and confuse many people. I find him delightful. He writes from his real world experience so he has lots of interesting and humorous anecdotes to illustrate his points. And his points are pretty darn good. I think you will find this an entertaining and worthwhile read whether or not you ultimately agree with everything he says.

Kessler is providing not "Rules for Radicals" a la Saul Alinksy, but what he calls "Rules for Free Radicals". That is, for people whose ideas are so timely and so full of energy that they can combine with the technology of the moment and change the world and make their founders and investors crazy rich in the process. They get rich not because they are gouging wealth from society but because they create so much wealth for society by making it more efficient the little piece of that wealth they take ends up being a huge number.

Not every business is suitable for his approach and his is clear that if your business depends on extracting the most value FROM society or using regulation and business models that limit competition and restrict innovation you aren't going to find anything of value here. But if you want to use technology to radically change an industry these rules will help you analyze your business model. As a modern entrepreneur you must understand and utilize these rules to succeed let alone thrive. If you are an investor, you should look at your potential investments with these rules in mind so you will better understand what is right or wrong with the model being pitched to you. If you are a student of business, Kessler offers you a lot to think about and tools you can use as you study businesses and industries.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author is an experienced and successful investor, however his writing style falls short. He asks rhetorical questions and makes broad generalized statements without clear answers or explanations. Instead he drones on with verbose anecdotes lacking in a clear, illustrating point.
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