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The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story Hardcover – 9 Feb 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Stated First Edition edition (9 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393048136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393048131
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.5 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 418,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Lewis was born in New Orleans and educated at Princeton University and the London School of Economics. He has written several books including the New York Times bestseller, Liar's Poker, widely considered the book that defined Wall Street during the 1980s. Lewis is contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and also writes for Vanity Fair and Portfolio magazine. He is married with three children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Michael Lewis was supposed to be writing about how Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape, was going to turn health care on its ear by launching Healtheon, which would bring the vast majority of the industry's transactions online. So why was he spending so much time on a computerised yacht, each feature installed because, as one technician put it, "someone saw it on Star Trek and wanted one just like it?"

Much of The New New Thing, to be fair, is devoted to the Healtheon story. It's just that Jim Clark doesn't do start-ups 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-footmast, 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 humour 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 10 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,Amazon.com --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

"It is a splendid, entirely satisfying book, intelligent and fun and revealing and troubling in the correct proportions, resolutely skeptical but not at all cynical..." -- Kurt Andersen "[R]emarkable...Clark proves to be a character as enthralling as any in American fiction or non-fiction...Lewis tells a great story in this book, with prose that ranges from the beautiful to the witty to the breathtaking." -- Fred Moody "[A] superb book...[Lewis] makes Silicon Valley as thrilling and intelligible as he made Wall Street in his best-selling Liar's Poker." -- Joshua Quittner "The most significant business story since the days of Henry Ford... Lewis achieves a novelistic elegance." "Michael Lewis takes readers inside the now-familiar world of Silicon Valley excess, the frantic deal making, the absurdly hyped expectations, the phenomenal wealth. But the 39-year old best-selling author of Liar's Poker and The Money Culture brings something genuinely exotic to the mix: near-total access to one of the Valley's biggest and most enigmatic players."

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First Sentence
The original plan, which Lord knows didn't mean very much when that plan had been made by Jim Clark, was that we would test the boat quickly in the North Sea and then sail it across the Atlantic Ocean. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is the potboiler version of how to create new industries, and advance the world for everyone.
Like the Victorian writers who detailed lovingly how royalty employed personal plumbing, Lewis focuses on Clark's obsession with gadgets. Many technically-strong, wealthy men like gadgets, so this is the Walter Mitty look for everyone who shares that fascination.
On the other hand, Lewis has little idea why people like Clark are successful and what the lessons are for the rest of us.
If you like the People Magazine approach to financial journalism, you've found your book.
If you want to learn how to be a high tech entrepreneur, I see little that will help you.
This is a soap opera tale, and if read as such you will feel totally rewarded. A larger-than-life character like Jim Clark makes a wonderful subject for a Lewis book.
Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
Hero Worshipping the Devil

Michael Lewis - one of my favourites - often centres his books around heroes - whether nice or nasty - and the New New Thing has his most blatant hero so far - Jim Clark. He is as repulsive as a hero gets, often confusing us with his selfish, ludicrous behaviour. Lewis falls for Clark like a high school sweetheart - blindly in love, yet somehow keeping enough of his senses to avoid being buggered to death.

Jim Clark is a genius, and as such invites our sympathy. Having an unusual background - A Plainview Texas failure, Clark develops his genius gradually, somehow getting degrees and graduate degrees in physics, computer science and engineering. He develops computer graphics and becomes rich with Silicon Graphics. But he has no time for the money men. He wants to help engineers (like himself) make fortunes. Then he decides the future is in a home device (The TV) that can run your life. He changes his mind - it is the PC and internet that will change life. He starts Netscape, makes another bigger fortune, but is screwed by Microsoft. Clark is a mini devil compared to Gates (if you don't hate Gates by now, read this!). He becomes besotted with money, and falls off the greed wagon. He builds computer operated mega sailboats. He goes loopy. Then he starts Healtheon, an awful internet interface in the US healthcare market. The book ends with him becoming even more ridiculously rich. It is this idiot, Clark, who started the idea of companies getting rich off hype, the new, new thing, and the gullibility of venture capitalists and the stock market.

The book is great when it stays on Clark, but Lewis goes overboard over the boating episodes, which are dull. Normally I like Lewis's weird heroes, like Billy Bean (Moneybag).
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By A Customer on 25 April 2000
Format: Hardcover
I listened to the abridged tape (3hours) of the book, so I am only commenting on what it contains. What I found most dissapointing is Lewis' ongoing fascination for the Hyperion boat project as if it was a metaphor for all that is Jim Clark. You know it isn't going to come to much because that is common knowledge and quite frankly stories about boat testing are never that rivetting especially when half the people on the boat are inexperienced. We get tales of vomiting, masts breaking, boredom and frustration with computer systems that seem to have no idea how to perform the most basic of sailing tasks. OK, interesting for a few pages but as a running theme throughout the tape NO I dont think so. Clark's story is amazing but we don't get enough details on how he did it (apart from being very antsy towards practically everyone) or what makes him tick. What we do learn though is that he has been instrumental in ensuring engineers get a good cut of the equity and that explains why engineers ran to be involved in his projects. Its a fundamental and necessary shift in power from suits to techies. The rest is just the question of why get so rich? Isn't a billion enough?. We dont really get a clear idea of how such wealth has affected Clark or how he feels about responsibilities it bestows on him (if any). Lewis tries to turn this into a jolly romp with the conclusion that Clark is the locus of the 'new new' ideas but perhaps we would gain more from a series of probing question and answer interviews with Clark and those that know him or had dealings with him. I suspect that he agreed to the book because he guessed (rightly) that Lewis would not subject him to any more scrutiny than that given by an admiring 'believer'. Kitty Kelly would have done a far better job but then maybe a man who wants to sail a boat by computer is not the best subject for a biography anyway.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book because I am a fan of Michael Lewis, and I enjoyed reading Liar's Poker and Moneyball. This book is about Jim Clark and Silicon Valley. Clark was an unsuccessful college professor who founded three billion-dollar companies: Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and Healtheon. I personally liked the part about Silicon Valley. I found it very educational to learn how an idea can be taken from scratch and at the end sold in the public markets through an IPO. After reading this book, people who are constantly chasing the next hot IPOs may wake up and realize that most of the money has already been made by the founders, venture capitalists, and investment bankers, before leftovers are served for the public.

- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market
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