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Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins Paperback – October 7, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Perkins] sews dry humor through tales of yachting triumphs, road rallies in expensive cars, tech start-ups and the boardroom coup he instigated at Hewlett Packard. Looking back without rancor or remorse, he has a knack for storytelling that makes him feel like a buddy who never fails to laugh at himself."
--TIME Magazine

"Tom Perkins is a man of extraordinary passions, among them deals, venture capital, entrepreneurs, ocean racing, vintage cars, and extraordinary women. Valley Boy is a heady mix of picaresque adventure and high finance, more fun than most novels, told in a charming, intimate style as if you were a privileged guest on one of Tom's legendary yachts."
-- James Stewart, New Yorker contributor and author of the best-selling Den of Thieves

"A smart, often funny and wholly engaging account of a fabulous and varied life lived on the frontiers of high tech America. Utterly absorbing from first to last, this is one memoir which is as unique as its author."
-- Richard North Patterson, #1 New York Times best-selling author

As if Tom Perkins didn't have it all--and he does not seem to lack for one single thing--the guy can damn well WRITE, too. I picked up Valley Boy before dinner, got engrossed by the Hewlett Packard intrigue, sailed on through Danielle Steel, and wound up skipping a meal. This is an entertaining, penetrating, and even wise look at the high life, California-style!
-- Sean Wilsey, author of the best-selling Oh the Glory of It All

"I read it in one sitting and enjoyed the fascinating, frank and open discussion of Perkins' life."
-- Prof. Herbert Boyer, cofounder of Genentech

Praise for Tom Perkins

"A Titan of American Business"
-Newsweek

"One of American venture capital's founding fathers." -The Economist

"You know you're rich when...you assemble one of the world's great collections of supercharged cars of the 1920s and 30s, sell it just before the antique car market collapses, but still drive to the office in a late-model turbo Bentley. Perkins provides a paradigm of life lived wisely and well, without a wrong note, a missed step, or (it seems) a dream unrealized."
-Forbes

"A Silicon Valley Luminary...A decisive, brilliant strategist...His success came partly from a willingness to risk everything he had-literally-to get his way."
-San Jose Mercury News

"A big engine...a grand figure in the life of the Valley."
-David Kaplan in Silicon Boys

"A charismatic corporate gamesman with a gambler's nerve."
-San Francisco Chronicle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Tom Perkins co-founded the leading venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1972. He had previously served as administrative head of the research department and general manager of the computer division at Hewlett-Packard. Most recently, he joined the HP board of directors, retired, and officially rejoined the board days before Carly Fiorina’s firing. Also the author of Sex and the Single Zillionaire, he lives in the San Francisco area. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; Reprint edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592404030
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592404032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rick Spell VINE VOICE on November 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The good parts are great. But there are also slow parts. First of all, this is not a biography although it is a shortened version biography. The first two chapters cover controversial periods of his life where he wants to get his side of the story heard, most notably the HP board spying controversy overwhich he resigned. Once he gets this off his chest there are some exceptional short stories, particularly his career at HP of which I had no idea. Obviously this experience is how he became the wealthy venture capitalist through the invaluable experience in the growth of HP and his close access to Packard and Hewlett as well as the many other Valley stars who were there at the time.

Where this book loses its way or becomes less interesting is when the author branches in to subjects that are diverse and of interest to him but maybe not the reader. For example, his sojurn into writing a cheesy novel which I previously read may not be of interest. Or, a reprinted interview about his short-term second wife, novelist Danielle Steele may not be of interest. Particularly when he insinuates that the interview cannot be believed. One thing is for sure, if you have no interest in sailing, this boat is definitely not for you as that is his passion including a complete chapter on a favorite novelist specializing in Clipper ships who he befriends. This is about 1/3 of the book.

All these sections have their own interest but I cannot overstate the value of his business discussions about HP and subsequently starting the famous venture capital firm which made him incredibly wealthy. this covers about 33% of the book.

There is one part of the book that is not covered sufficiently, the story of his wife of over thirty years who dies of cancer.
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Format: Hardcover
Tom takes the opportunity to get his view of events in his life on the record. Very doubtful as biography, this book is more of an attempt to sway public interpretation of events in his long career, spanning early years in Hewlett Packard, the formation of the Kleiner Perkins venture capital firm, his sailing exploits, his marriage to Danielle Steele, and how he chose to use his vast wealth to influence events and people he encountered. Right up front he deals with the spying incidents at Hewlett Packard when Pattie Dunn was the chairwoman (very condescending), as well as his relationship with Carly Fiorina (very confrontational and rocky), but most of it comes off as self-serving and slanted to his view. Yet, the book is interesting as an peek into the restless and eclectic mind of the ultimate bootstrapper, a man who leveraged his times and opportunites into one of the most successful careers on record. Despite this, it also serves as a warning to those who believe great wealth is matched with great wisdom, since clearly, his wealth was poured into his world class collection of toys and houses. Take heed.
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Format: Hardcover
Don't expect "Valley Boy" to be a full autobiography of Tom Perkins. He seems to be much too private to reveal the most intimate aspects of his life--his wife's death serves only as an introduction to a race he got involved in as a way of dealing with his loss, his children are barely mentioned, and his marriage to and divorce from novelist Danielle Steel is only dealt in a "celebrity interview"--but the stories he does tell are absolutely worth reading.

Writing about his beginnings as "one of American venture capitalist's founding fathers," a race that ended up with him being charged with manslaughter in France, his purchase (and help with the design) of the largest private sailboat in the world, fights at the San Francisco Ballet, or his resignation from Hewlett Packard, Perkins offers his stories with candor and (refreshingly for a man of his power and wealth) a sense of humor about himself. Even if you're not particularly interested in Silicon Valley or sailing, you'll enjoy this book, by a man who has lived a very full life.
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Format: Hardcover
"I'm not a writer," claims Tom Perkins. But plop into a chair with "Valley Boy" and you discover a wonderful storyteller recounting an accomplished life pursued full sail. Perkins entertains with unique experiences from the top of the food chain, written in a friendly tone, often self-deprecating and tongue-in-cheek.

By the end of the memoir, you feel you've spent a fine evening with Tom Perkins, that he is your friend. Yet, he drops plenty of hints that he can be an asshole, creating tension just by entering a room. And only penultimate self-absorption could spur a man to build a boat that far exceeds the dollar and technology equivalent of a Stealth bomber.

The fascinating aspect of this book is to question why anyone with such excessive wealth would share his life so openly. Yes, there is some effort to describe his past controversies in the most attractive light. (BTW, it's Raab not Robb). Yes, he flings some last dirt over his enemies. And maybe he senses his time has come, that he will soon succumb to a multi-generational heart murmur.

Perhaps he revealed his motivation when he admitted to the Commonwealth Club that he checks his Amazon reviews daily. Even as the most successful venture capitalist ever, Tom Perkins still needs validation. Like Citizen Kane, this fascinating Valley Boy needs a rosebud. Who can resist reading about a complex man like that?
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