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Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  12,125 ratings  ·  1,101 reviews
Liar’s Poker meets The Social Network in an irreverent exposé of life inside the tech bubble, from industry provocateur Antonio García Martínez, a former Twitter advisor, Facebook product manager and startup founder/CEO.

The reality is, Silicon Valley capitalism is very simple:

Investors are people with more money than time.

Employees are people with more time than money.

Hardcover, 528 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Harper
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Tarun Gogineni It won't be anything he/she hasn't seen before. I'd say go for it and let your kid get a head start on understanding the way the world works.

This stor…more
It won't be anything he/she hasn't seen before. I'd say go for it and let your kid get a head start on understanding the way the world works.

This story cuts right through the bullshit and the bromides to get you to see how obscene fortunes are accumulated off the back of other people's work and sheer dumb luck.

The stories entrepreneurs tell are usually scrubbed and white-washed tales of high-minded ideals and clarity of will triumphing over the evil corporate opponents. Chaos Monkeys is perhaps one of the only books that admits the simple fact that everything in Silicon Valley (and maybe everywhere else) is driven first and foremost by self-interest and greed.

It's a breath of fresh air in a world populated by people writing their own press releases.

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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Rob Woodbridge
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
The title is a little misleading. It really is one guys story about building his company, selling it to Twitter and then working at Facebook. Full of stories of egomaniacs and hubris - from the author and the characters he works for. Not a great statement of humanity's progress, not inspirational, not really a story with a reason to be told other than to garner more media to inflate an enormous ego. So the cycle goes. If you are really interested in a great book on the building of a company, rea ...more
Will Byrnes
…technology entrepreneurs are society’s chaos monkeys, pulling the plug on everything from taxi medallions (Uber) to traditional hotels (AirBnB) to dating (Tinder). One industry after another is simply knocked out via venture-backed entrepreneurial daring and hastily shipped software. Silicon Valley is the zoo where the chaos monkeys are kept, and their numbers only grow in time. With the explosion of venture capital, there is no shortage of bananas to feed them. The question for society is w
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Pretentious, pseudo-intellectual misogynist pontificates about his theories on tech business, society, and capitalism while sneering at every other human with Olympian contempt and making unacceptable sexist comments about women for about 500 pages.

Had he not insisted on cultivating such an insufferable persona for the narrative, the book would have been better as he does give some interesting information on the tech world and the people and companies involved in it.
Andrew Smith
I’m not a techie - I use a minimal amount of my smartphone’s many capabilities and survived the introduction of major technology into my chosen career with a bit of luck and much help from friends and colleagues – but I am interested in the business of technology. That’s to say, how the introduction of electronic technology has transformed industries I’ve known and worked in and how it has introduced new businesses I couldn’t have dreamt of when I began my working life. I know (or knew) little a ...more
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is several things.

1) A great introduction to how Silicon Valley tech really works. I've worked in tech startups for two decades, and this is exactly they kind of stuff which often happens but is rarely publicly discussed.

2) An enthralling memoir of one of the most interesting people around in tech. Middling for a rock star or international war correspondent, but vastly more interesting than most of the people in tech.

3) Insights into how Facebook made critical product decisions in what
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
At no point do you get the sense that Martínez is censoring himself beyond what he might absolutely have to do for legal reasons. He’s all in. His personal life is a wreck and he shamelessly puts it out there for all the world to see and judge him by. His career in both Wall Street and Silicon Valley is full of of ups and downs and decisions that are, at best, morally ambiguous.

The writing is good. It’s funny, irreverent, and shows more than a passing knowledge of history and literature. There’s
John Dito
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
An interesting inside baseball start-up tale is ruined by the authors ego dysfunction. While there are some interesting bits and even a few accurate observations they are ruined with insults and crudeness.

The authors casual insults to women, the Bay Area, his co-founders and investors betrays some deep insecurities. I wont repeat them here.

When Bay Area natives complain about "techies" Mr. Martinez is what they are talking about.

Do not waste your time with this book.
Cecil Paddywagon
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
An otherwise interesting insider account of the intrigue and machinations of Silicon Valley... it's unfortunate that the author comes across as possibly the most insufferable personality I've yet to come across in Silicone Valley lit--which is saying something. At nearly every unfortunate instance he turned the book away from SV and towards his own loathsome self, I rolled my eyes to heaven and reminded myself why, fundamentally speaking, I have never pursued a similar career: no amount of milli ...more
Torunn Rhodes
Not able to finish. After reading about half the book, I decided it was not worth my time. The author's jargon and general writing style were annoying, but it was how he wrote about women, as non-existent except as sex objects in this technological business world that made me just close the book. (less) ...more
Cliff Chang
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
As somebody who overlapped at FB on the Ads team with the author (though we never actually worked together), I found this an extremely accurate portrayal of the company and the larger Silicon Valley culture in general. If you're interested in the inside perspective, I recommend this highly. ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book covered two major stages of the author's Silicon Valley career: his co-founding of a startup, and his experience as a project manager at Facebook. Prior to those parts, he also briefly traced his short tenure at Goldman Sachs and later at a sinking Valley startup.
it was an unique insider account, and an illustrative presentation on how the animal spirit being exposed and exploited in the Silicon Valley startup world.
it was an anatomy of technology venture capital machine, and a detaile
Jul 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you want an inside look at 1) What it's like to run a mildly successful Y Combinator startup, and 2) What it was like to work at Facebook during Battle of Google Plus, through the IPO? Then read this book.

But grit your teeth and prepare to find the narrator incredibly annoying. Martinez writes like a guy who's charming until you realize he's cynical about everything and impressed with nobody. In the first 380 pages, the only things he unabashedly likes are Belgian beer, sex, and Michel Houell
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People interested in technology, people interested in business
This book was a tough slog for me. I thought the author was skilled at reading people, and did a great job of exposing the inner workings of a large tech company in Silicon Valley. However, like many of the other reviewers, I found the author and his writing style obnoxious. At times, he came across as a pretentious know-it-all, and his vindictiveness knew very little bounds. In addition, it seemed like when he had the option to use a $10 word instead of a more common one, he took it without fai ...more
Maciej Nowicki
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rob Di
Jan 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
When reading a good memoir, the protagonist needs to be relatable and likeable.

The author is neither. He comes off as an awful person who consistently shirked responsibility, both professionally and personally. He essentially abandons his baby mama and kids (but at least he paid the minimum child support, congrats bud). He complains how Facebook moved to slow for an start-up guy like himself (he was at his startup AdGrok for less than a year). Every single female character in the book is insult
Mike Blick
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found it pretty boring. This isn't how Silicon Valley is. This is a glimpse inside the life of a tech bro. The author wasn't very likable, and my opinion was confirmed late in the book when he admitted that he had a lifted truck AND a Mustang GT. I'd give this a pass. ...more
Tim O'Hearn
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Liar’s Poker—remember that book? I wonder how it was received in 1989. It’s now considered a classic and is gleefully passed around summer training classes. It’s the North Star in a constellation of Wall Street memoirs spanning from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (1923) to Straight to Hell (2015). I’ve spent many a night gazing into this galaxy, exploring some celestial objects that are little more than dimly lit orbs of gaseous matter.

In Liar’s Poker, which is one of about four Wall Street b
Isabelle Duchaine
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Honestly, after 5 hours of this audiobook I wanted all of this guy's businesses to fail. ...more
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Were it not for the possibility of legal complications, Chaos Monkeys could have been titled “Fear and Loathing in Silicon Valley.” It is a unique blend of high stakes gambling, sex, alcohol and hubris. For those willing to wade through technical detail, it shows how Internet applications like Facebook and Google convert pixels into dollars. For the rest of us, the story of the excruciatingly hard work and intense drama that go into both a startup company and the internal machinations of an esta ...more
Ferris Mx
Nov 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
People ask me why I give three stars to books I consider mediocre. It's so that I'll have plenty of room for books like this.

At first, I like the sarcastic and trenchant analysis of banking at Goldman. But as the book wore on, it became apparent that the author is just a nasty person from every dimension. Every colleague and company is demeaned but OF COURSE the author knows the best course of action. It is no wonder nobody listened to him.

But what really grated on me was the constant barrage of
Jun 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
There's a fine line between entertaining gonzo journalism and self-aggrandizing egoism. Martinez crosses the line big time. At first I was drawn in by the wry description of Facebook politics and the gleeful take down of valley culture. But more and more the narrative centers around Martinez's stories of his own glory and brilliance. He totally loses me when he veers into patriarchal/misogynistic characterization of his girlfriends and women in general. How about this one?

"Most women in the Bay
Manuel González Noriega
Oct 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: discarded
There's only so much mysoginistic bullshit and insufferable prose I'm ready to stand in exchange for some "insider knowledge" on FB ads and SV culture, and this book overstayed its welcome around the 50 page mark. ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
I found myself highlighting many passages in this book. Half the time, because they were interesting/funny. The other half of the time, because they were shockingly offensive. I'm torn on the rating because the author is both a pretty entertaining writer, and also somewhat delusional about himself and his talents. I certainly wouldn't enjoy getting a drink with the man, but might actually buy this book as a gift for a friend.

The prime example to me of his lack of self-awareness is the narrative
Athan Tolis
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: startups
If Antonio Martinez never writes another book, he will still go down as the author who best captured the Zeitgeist in the hottest (dare I say central?) industry of our times.

Much like Michael Lewis’ debut a short 26 years ago, this is the story of a young graduate who lands a seat at the high table without having formally been invited, makes the most of it, keeps his sanity and lives to tell.

So you follow him from the Vampire Squid to Adchemy, you cheer for him when he persuades two engineers t
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lloyd by: Joel
No bullshit from a bullshitter. Funny, savage and truth-too-close-to-home depressing.

I listened to the audiobook. I expect I'll revisit to dig into some of the heavier material while skimming the cynicism and personal attacks.
Amar Pai
Apr 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Entertaining, in that he talks a lot of shit about FB execs, Twitter execs, and anyone he's worked with. But the bulk of the book is about his time as an ads product manager at FB, championing some ads thing, and it turns out I really really don't care ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I so wanted to hate this book. I really did. What is not there to hate, a misogynistic jerk constantly bragging about how he took sleazy shortcuts for personal gains, had sex in the Facebook closets, and sweet talked himself out of a DUI case by pulling his white privilege card. You can hate the misogynistic rhetoric, but God this guy can write. And ironically he writes an honest story to the point of even disclosing his pay and salary at twitter. I do not know many honest people in Silicon Vall ...more
Liza Fireman
Well, I got a recommendation to read this book, so I put it higher on my list. I do have mixed feelings about it. For the most part, the book starts with the author's startup story, which is really not that interesting. It becomes more interesting when he talks about facebook. I mainly have to say that I really did not like the guy that much, and his sense of humor is so degrading, I wish I could understand why he felt the need to say "shit" every other word, or ridicule so many people on the wa ...more
Mal Warwick
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Hope King ran her review of Chaos Monkeys on CNN Money under the title “New book compares Facebook’s culture to fascism but fails to prove it.” The subtitle is equally revealing, concluding that the book “reads like four year’s worth of Medium posts from a scorned man.”

Clearly, Antonio Garcia Martinez has rubbed a whole lot of people the wrong way, and not just one reviewer for CNN Money. His takedown of Silicon Valley’s culture in general and Facebook’s in particular is withering, but writing i
Todd N
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
The "X for Y" pitch for this book is that it's "Liar's Poker for Silicon Valley." However, Mr. Martinez is no Michael Lewis. Still enough flashes of brilliance peek out here and there, and you have to admire his determination to send his career into the heart of the sun like that ship at the end of BSG.

I would recommend reading this instead of Disrupted because instead of Dan Lyon's detached take on the tech industry, Mr. Martinez demonstrates the unhealthy amount of passion and dedication that
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