Dave Boardman is a school principal and dad to two girls, Rachael (12) and Heather (9). He loves to read, especially a good crime/thriller novel, and a total action movie buff. Dave is married to one of our team members here at Penguin, and we reckon he’s a great representative for many other dads out there like him.
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Book review - Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez
Martinez takes us on a journey into the power halls of Silicon Valley, a place usually off-limits to those not ‘one of the chosen’.
He tells of a cut throat, narcissistic environment where anything goes, loyalties are traded on a daily basis and all who inhabit it strive for the ‘next big thing’. Companies come and go, sometimes being outcompeted or alternatively just bought out by the bigger, hungrier competition.
A few Founders or Chief Executives become as well-known as their offerings, sometimes due to their inspirational leadership or visionary approach to a new idea, but equally often for their eccentric habits and all-controlling approach to management, where those who do not agree - or voice concerns - can rapidly find themselves out of work.
It becomes increasingly clear as Martinez navigates one of the biggest of these companies, Facebook. He explains how a company’s worth is not in its intrinsic offering to society, but rather in the data it can collect on its subscribers and sell on to other companies - who in turn use that to target advertising. The financial rewards attached to this, and the money changing hands to obtain it, make this some of the most valuable data anywhere.
It may still surprise some, how a person’s experience on the internet – and their search results – are as much influenced by their previous ‘clicks’ and data collected, as they are on the relevance of the results themselves. All of this is targeted marketing – paid for by companies who obtain information on users, based on plug-in data and what they ‘Liked’ last week. It’s the oil that keeps the wheels of Silicon Valley spinning.
Chaos Monkeys will appeal to anyone who has ever hit a ‘Like’ button, considered how commenting on videos of kittens could enable companies to be floated on the Stock Markets with values in the tens of billions of dollars - or how some of the simplest ideas can enable a few to become some of the richest and most well-known people in the World.