From Publishers Weekly
As a staffer at Wired, the magazine that started and fueled Internet economy hype, Wolf watched the rise and fall of an era from his desk. And he took notes. His story, however, doesn't rise above the slew of boom-and-bust books; despite a few colorful details, much of it involves dull talk of stock options, money and control. Wolf follows Wired's founders, Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalf, from their beginnings publishing European trade magazines to launching a wildly successful, influential magazine. The pair left Europe for San Francisco in the early 1990s to create "the mouthpiece of the digital revolution." Like most new businesses, Wired was launched with its founders' (here, especially Rossetto's) force-of-will, financial bootstrapping and an overwhelming sense of mission. In the early days, employees had to buy their own pens. "[Rossetto] was not just being frugal," Wolf writes. "The pens-or rather the absence of pens-had a meaning: hold on to your independence; do not get lazy; do not lose your identity; do not merge with the group." Indeed, Wired created a unique corporate culture, in which management brought employees to the hills north of San Francisco for a bit of media strategizing and pot smoking, and IPOs were printed in neon colors instead of the standard b&w format. Although not a tell-all, Wolf's story provides some gossipy tales of backstabbing, bruised egos, multimillion-dollar deals and steamy affairs. But as a romance, the story is bittersweet. Overspending and personality conflicts eventually forced the sale of Wired, albeit for a tidy profit. Like so many similar tales, what started as an attempt to change the world became an unseemly struggle for money and control.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Wolf, a contributor to such magazines as Wired,
tells the story of Louis Rossetto, who, with his companion, Jane Metcalfe, sets out on an adventure to prove that computers would make every existing authority obsolete. The saga begins with the two of them developing Wired
magazine and then expanding their efforts into the Internet arena. Rossetto was driven by ideology, commitment, and rank stubbornness, which ultimately earned them $30 million when the whole enterprise was sold in 1999 for $390 million. We can consider this a "morality play" with intrigue and lengthy battles involving greed, betrayal, and many other human-nature characteristics. It is a story of winners and losers, of bitter struggles and politics involving former and current employees, investors, and other board members, and readers will decide for themselves who acted admirably and who did not. Rossetto's risk-taking odyssey with Wired
is just one of many tales about the highs and lows experienced by players in the Internet bubble of the late 1990s. Mary WhaleyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved