The Silicon Boys: And Their Valley of Dreams

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9780688161484: The Silicon Boys: And Their Valley of Dreams

THE SILICON BOYS

Jerry Yang
The chief Yahoo of Silicon Valley and ultimate Internet tycoon...the poster boy for immigrant success who went from pennies to millions to billions...you'd say Yahoo, too!

John Doerr
The J. P. Morgan of the Valley...the man Bill Gates fears most...bankrolled Netscape and Amazon.com...the man so wired he has a cell phone built into his ski helmet.

Marc Andreessen
The hottest, coolest, hungriest techno-weenie of his generation...his invention unleashed the World Wide Web and made him a multi-millionaire at twenty-four.

Bill Gates
Darth Vader, Godzilla, "the Leona Helmsley of technology"--he's the guy everybody loves to hate...the richest man in the galaxy and leader of the Evil Empire known as Microsoft.

Jim Clark
Founder of Netscape, daredevil pilot, and owner of the world's greatest cyber-yacht...the serial entrepreneur: "If at first you succeed--try, try again."

Steve Jobs
The prodigal son of Silicon Valley...started Apple Computer, got kicked out, then returned...arrogant, petty, a master marketer--the guy they hate to love.

PLUSThe Valley's No. 1 adolescent...the programmer who could've beaten Bill Gates...Andy "the Mad Hungarian" Grove of Intel...the weirdest town in Silicon Valley...and where to buy eighteen-dollar-a-pound ostrich salami.



It is an American icon -- the symbol of technological genius and ineffable wealth. It is the home to the Newest New Thing, where the digital age was born and keeps remaking itself. It's also the only place in the world where you can buy eighteen-dollar-a-pound ostrich salami. It is, of course, Silicon Valley.

Now prize-winning Newsweek journalist David A. Kaplan takes us on a riotous romp through the history and culture of the Valley. How did Yahoo get started, what nearly killed Netscape, will Apple survive, who's the most powerful person in Silicon Valley? Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jerry Yang, Larry Ellison, Andy Grove, John Doerr, Jim Clark -- the tycoons, the loons, and the hot-air balloons are all here. Based on firsthand accounts and extensive interviews, The Silicon Boys is a portrait of high-tech high jinks and its moneyed lifestyle like no other.

If the Valley were a nation, its economy would rank among the world's twelve largest. Depending on yesterday's stock market close, roughly a quarter-million Siliconillionaires live in the Valley. Here they invented the microchip and video games and Internet commerce. But more important, they created a state of mind that's become part of the American imagination. The Valley has its admirable moments, its venal moments, and, best of all, its absurd ones.

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Review:

Pop quiz: Where are American kids taught the nuances of being millionaires as part of their junior high curriculum? Where do guests at a posh outdoor party grouse about the defects of high-end flushable Porta-Johns? Where does a school auction rake in $439,000? The answer: Silicon Valley, of course. David A. Kaplan captures all that excess and more in The Silicon Boys.

Kaplan's book is a history of the Valley, from the time when Stanford professor Frederick Terman encouraged David Packard and Bill Hewlett to establish their own company to when Sequoia Capital invested $1 million in a startup founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo. In between are the many Valley legends, including Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, Kleiner Perkins, Apple, Oracle, and Netscape--as well as some of its most notable failures and tragedies, such as William Shockley and Gary Kildall. While the book begins with the opulence of Woodside, California, it ends surprisingly enough in Portland, Maine, with Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, who fled the Valley for something "fresher" and "more alive."

As he traces the short history of the area, Kaplan, a senior writer at Newsweek, detects a not-so-subtle change in its values. He writes, "Nobody appears to be having quite as good a time in Silicon Valley. Passions have become mere professions; impulsiveness is now compulsiveness.... The Valley once was a new machine. It changed the world. It may do so yet again. But the machine has no soul anymore." Here's a thoughtful and colorful read for anyone interested in one of the most dynamic places on the planet. --Harry C. Edwards

About the Author:

David A. Kaplan is a senior editor at Newsweek. He is the author of The Silicon Boys, a national bestseller that has been translated into six languages. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, various Op-Ed pages, Parenting, and Food & Wine. A graduate of Cornell and the New York University School of Law, he lives with his wife and two sons in Irvington, New York.

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