The New New Thing

  • by Michael Lewis
  • Narrated by Bruce Reizen
  • 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the weird glow of the dying millennium, Michael Lewis sets out on a safari through Silicon Valley to find the world's most important technology entrepreneur, the man who embodies the spirit of the coming age. He finds him in Jim Clark, who is about to create his third, separate, billion-dollar company: first Silicon Graphics, then Netscape - which launched the Information Age - and now Healtheon, a startup that may turn the $1 trillion healthcare industry on its head.Despite the variety of his achievements, Clark thinks of himself mainly as the creator of Hyperion, which happens to be a sailboat - not just an ordinary yacht, but the world's largest single-mast vessel, a machine more complex than a 747. Clark claims he will be able to sail it via computer from his desk in San Francisco, and the new code may contain the seeds of his next billion-dollar coup.On the wings of Lewis' celebrated storytelling, the listener takes the ride of a lifetime through this strange landscape of geeks and billionaires. We get the inside story of the battle between Netscape and Microsoft; we sit in the room as Clark tries to persuade the investment bankers that Healtheon IS the new Microsoft; we get queasy as Clark pits his boat against the rage of the North Atlantic in winter. And in every brilliant anecdote and character sketch, Lewis is drawing us a map of markets and free enterprise in the 21st century.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A fun book about Jim Clark

This book gently pokes fun at a man who one of the most widely acclaimed entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Jim Clark is not the richest man in Silicon Valley, or the richest tech entrepreneur, but he is widely regarded as the most entrepreneurial of the super-rich in Silicon Valley.

The book presents him as a likable, slightly tormented, mild misfit. Of course he's a man of nuclear will; all great entrepreneurs are. But this book doesn't portray him as a bellicose tyrant, the way Steve Jobs is often portrayed. And it doesn't portray him as a borderline autistic, diabolical businessman, they way Bill Gates is often portrayed. The portrayal is closer to a character on the popular TV show, "The Big Bang Theory". There is something in the portrayal that it is funny and likable in a way that is similar to almost every geek I've ever known. In this regard the book is very well written. And the narration was excellent.

On a personal note I inherited the office that Jim Clark inhabited as a grad student at the University of Utah, about a decade after him, where I too earned a Ph.D. in computer science. When I moved into the office I found a raincoat and an umbrella standing in the corner, made to look like a mannequin without the mannequin. It was referred to as the "Invisible Grad Student". Rummaging through the pockets of the raincoat I discovered an old printout, on old style computer paper, of the department student directory. Jim's name was highlighted. After asking around I discovered that it was widely believed that the Invisible Grad Student was the work of Jim Clark. But all that was known for sure was that it had at one time been his office. When I pointed out that this might be valuable and inquired about rather the department wanted to keep these artifacts in a safe place, the items were stolen. Since at that time all the grad students had keys to everybody else's office, the list of suspects was intra
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- Kenneth "Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining."

Disruptions and Disruptors

“Never was a man’s love of risk so beautifully amplified by his environment as Clark’s was in Silicon Valley.”
― Michael Lewis, The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story

I did like Lewis' exploration of the relationship of Investment banking and the information technology companies that seemed to weed up in Silicon Valley during the late 90s. The normal venture technology relationship seemed to invert in Silicon Valley. Power shifted from the money men to the idea men, or perhaps not even the idea men, but the risk men, the development men. It was, and still is, a bit of an aberration in business space and time. This book focuses on Jim Clark, who ended up wet-nursing three different IT start-ups (Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and Healtheon).

Like his fellow Princeton New New Journalism master, John McPhee, Michael Lewis does a phenomenal job of finding and fleshing out the exact right person to serve as the locus for an even bigger story. This book is nominally focused on Jim Clark, but really is about the technology bubble of the late 1990s. Jim Clark just happens to be a near perfect example of the best and worst of that particular place and time in America's economy.

Not my favorite Lewis. Not because it isn't well written, but mainly subject matter. I'm more of a value man (Graham & Dodd), not a kamikaze investor. The whole idea of the New New thing is both interesting and a bit repellant to me. I love disruptive businesses, but I'm just not a fan of the smoke and mirrors of the early parts of these businesses.
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- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-29-2008
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio