Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chaos Monkeys, by Antonio Garcia Martinez

Staff review by Chris Saliba

A wild ride through the world of Silicon Valley start-ups.

Antonio Garcia Martinez began his career at Goldman Sachs then moved into the world of digital advertising. He took on a job with advertising firm Adchemy, soon quit, then created the startup AdGrok with two collaborators. As often happens in the fast paced and cannibalistic tech world, AdGrok was quickly sold to Twitter. During these negotiations with Twitter, Martinez was  headhunted by Facebook to work on their digital advertising strategies. He took the job, while his AdGrok colleagues went to Twitter.

Chaos Monkeys is Martinez’s iconoclastic, cynical, often excoriating portrait of Silicon Valley. It’s a world none too different from the aggressive, testosterone filled trading floors of New York. The book’s inside story on Facebook is quite alarming, describing its corporate culture as somewhere between a cult and a fascist dictatorship. Nor does the author give much credit to the presumed genius status of people like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, insisting that luck and timing more than play their part in creating such success.

Martinez is a brilliant writer, quick witted and perceptive. Chaos Monkeys provides a wild and unpredictable ride through the arcane tech world, rubbing a lot of gloss off it’s squeaky clean image and leaving something much grubbier behind. 

Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine, by Antonio Garcia Martinez. Published by Ebury. ISBN: 9781785034541 RRP: $35

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