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The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story: A Silicon Valley Story by [Lewis, Michael]
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The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story: A Silicon Valley Story Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 273 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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

Review

[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"

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. "

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

The most significant business story since the days of Henry Ford... Lewis achieves a novelistic elegance.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 844 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008UXLJN6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,504 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By A Customer on 28 May 2001
Format: Paperback
Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. I bought this book for two reasons a) The author came highly recommended for his book Liars Poker and b) if he did for the dot-com industry what he did for the finance industry it would be a great insight and a great read to boot.
What I got was a sycophantic, one-man song of praise for Jim Clarke. It was sickening in its own right, and depresssing to see such a sell out by the author.. That this book ever made it to print is a crime.
You know a book is bad, when the quotes on the dust-cover telling us how good the book is are not about the book in your hand, but another book - in this case Liars Poker.
The only good thing that came out of this is that I went and bought Liars Poker. It was every bit as good as I expected it to be. Shame on you Michael Lewis
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed all the Michael Lewis books I have read, enjoying real life events being told in a very readable way. This time I learned about Jim Clark, founder of a number of Silicon Valley companies, making a fortune for himself and for many many employees and investors. As Jim is described having new ideas, convincing others that they will be executable and will make money there is a background story. He has commissioned the building of a boat with the tallest, at that time, mast, to be managed/sailed via on board computers. A good read and Jim an interesting man.
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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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Format: Paperback
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If you liked Sandra Bullock in "The Net " you'll love Jim Clark in "The New New Thing ".
In both that movie and Michael Lewis' book, you'll learn diddlysquat about the Internet or the Web. Instead you'll get some hyped up, impressionistic flim flam hoping to move us, and entertain us with the exciting new world (as it was) of the Internet (circa mid 90s). The movers and fakers come straight from central casting.
The book floats along with Clark's cyber-yacht "Hyperion" as the centerpiece of the action. The fate of this boat, with its over-engineered, 25 SGI workstation driven technology was a disaster waiting to happen. Its bloated pretentiousness and lack of real connection with maritime fundamentals (just forget about the weather) is a good allegory to what was going on in those 5 fantastic years that followed the Netscape IPO of 1995. Those investors who went along for the ride thought they had discovered the fail-proof money making machine.
Lewis as a writer and Clark as an engineer, turned billionaire and aspiring yachtsman, appear to know very little about the fundamentals of sailing. You can't cross the Atlantic Ocean " in a straight line as quickly as possible" as Clark commanded his skipper. ( p316). There are some basic elements such as winds, currents and the curvature of the earth to contend with.
There is no doubt that Clark is a driven man, unashamedly escaping his past. There is a strong element of psychobiography in this book. For Clark everything has to be new. The mystery of the old tarnished tuba from Clark's schooldays, which sits in a corner of Clark's guestroom, is one of the keys to the past that Lewis reveals to the reader.
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