I worked at Facebook from 2010 until 2015, and until now I have never seen the inner machinations as accurately portrayed as they are in 'Chaos Monkeys'. Facebook very carefully maintains a public relations campaign (almost more internally focused than external) to convince the world it is the best place to work… ever. In reality it is just like any other large company, with plenty of political intrigue, infighting, silo-building, and collateral damage. Sure, the mini-kitchens have organic bananas, and pistachios that stressed slobby software engineers neither have to shell, nor leave a pile of shells littered all around the floor... but in reality they are shackled to an oar, pulling to the endless beat of a drum. Code. Code. Code. It is all here… the creepy propaganda, the failed high-profile projects, the surreal manager/staff relationships, the cultivated cult-like atmosphere, the sharp divide between the have-it-all, and the "hope to have enough to escape"...
If you are remotely interested in startups and tech you should read this book. This is Liar's Poker crossed with Silicon Valley, with a smattering of Hunter S. Thompson-esque ruminations about life, capitalism, and everything.
You will either love or hate Martinez's voice (I found myself doing both at different parts of the book). I'm sure a lot of people are going to get hung up on some offhand sexist comments or the dirt thrown at Facebook's execs (and I'm sure that Martinez could have avoided both while keeping the book interesting). The real gems in the book, however, are the tangents that Martinez takes to describe in a really simple way some fairly technical concepts. For example the way that he describes online advertising and why it is similar to security trading is really well done.
Read this book if you want to see how the Valley works from someone who was in there, drank the koolaid, but have the clarity of mind to get out of there and write about it.
This is about as unfiltered as well as lucid an account of life as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur can be. It comes off very authentically. The writing is excellent with even his wide ranging quotes well chosen and inserted without the usual smug pretentiousness. Despite several bits of self justification he doesn't place himself above others. This is Liar's Poker for Silicon Valley, not the usual techno elitist promotional drivel. Along the way it is also a fairly educational look at the consumer internet industry, particularly the advertising side as practiced at Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Still given the vast influence Silicon Valley companies have on global culture this is a sad commentary on a local culture that is influencing us all. The original startup in the story, AdGrok, should have by all rights been a chapter 7 bankruptcy. That it was an acquihire with multi-million dollar payouts for the three founders shows just how overheated the tech market is...
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