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Samsung Rising: The Inside Story of the South Korean Giant That Set Out to Beat Apple and Conquer Tech

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  740 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Geoffrey Cain offers a penetrating look behind the curtains of the biggest company nobody in America knows. Seen for decades in tech circles as a fast follower rather than an innovation leader, Samsung today has grown to become a market leader in the United States and around the globe. They have captured one quarter of the smartphone market and have been pushing the envelo ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published March 17th 2020 by Currency
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Huyen Chip
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Geoff is one of my oldest friends and mentors. I read the book proposal 4 (or maybe 5?) years ago and my first reaction was: “I want to read this book. Now.” Even though I grew up in Vietnam and not South Korea, Samsung was visible in many aspects of my adolescence, yet I somehow knew very little about the company’s history and culture.

I can’t think of a better person to write this book than Geoff. For almost a decade, I saw how hard Geoff worked. He uncovered many of Samsung’s secrets, wove the
Patrick Pilz
Mar 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I mean if you work in tech and read so much about Apple and its crimes against humanity, you may as well read up about the Republic of Samsung and its rise.

I deduct some points, because this book is essentially the soap opera that used the smartphone and a common thread through the book, but hardly manages to tell the rest of the story. It feels a little bit incomplete as a business bio of the Korean giant, but quite interesting for those that like tech stories - and soap operas/family crime dr
Yong Kwon
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it
The book begins with a robust narrative of Samsung's founding and the author adds interesting details about some of the company's organizational challenges here and there. However, it loses the central theme deeper it gets into the book. When one finishes the book, it is unclear what implications the reader are supposed to take away about Samsung. ...more
Budd Margolis
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Delving deep into the mindset of the Samsung corporate empire, Geoffrey Cain reveals how one Chaebol thinks, acts and reacts. Layer upon complex layer of the family relationships and political intrigue is revealed while the super supplier and developer crafts a path to control the Korean economy, system and soul. This is not a complete thesis on the company but it provides a good introduction into many issues we have read about but in compression form a better viewpoint. Between the covers, I le ...more
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc
Mostly a negative commentary.

The book tried to project as if Samsung is the worst company in the world, which is corrupt, hegemonic & a total outlaw.

This Inside story, didn't tell anything positive or good happening in Samsung.

It's difficult to digest for the western world, that any Asian Company can totally demolish the market, prestige & ego of western companies, but this happening & this will happen more often in future. I am looking forward for many more books of such sort!
Cedric Chin
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tech
This reads like a Korean drama, but you learn something useful about the world. This book is a great sideways introduction to South Korea, to Samsung's place in South Korea, to chaebols and zaibatsus, and to conglomerates in the Far East. Recommended. ...more
Jonathan Mckay
42nd book of 2020: scraping the bottom.

I've probably read too many books about business in the tech industry, but reading so many allows me to confidently place Samsung Rising at the bottom of the heap. This should be a fascinating read, considering the company's history: a chaebol that has survived in the era of smartphones and grown amidst competition from the world's fiercest competitors. Samsung is the only company that I've directly worked with and rolled my eyes at due to their many quirk
Dan Bourne
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Samsung is such a inbiquious brand with a fascinating rise to success story. It was very interesting to read into the history, corporate culture and politics of Samsung. I also liked finding out how the name Samsung came about. I never realised or thought much about how powerful the company is in South Korea, or how inter-dependent a country can be with one company that contributes so much to the economy.

Being passionate about technology, I would have loved to learn more about the variety of con
Yen Nguyen
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a surprisingly interesting book that I have to read for my Korean Organizations and Management class. I learned a lot about Samsung's structure and Korean culture throughout the book. I really loved the humor and the sarcasm of the author. Gotta write a response paper for my class now, all in all, highly recommended! ...more
Jenny K
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
In one part of the book, Miky Lee, one of the founding father's descendants who went into entertainment (and was on stage during Parasite's Oscar win, BTW) noticed, when she attended Harvard, that no one was taking Korean; students either chose Japanese because they admired the culture, or Chinese for utility. This bothered her greatly. It reminded me of one of my professors in Japanese history who said, I actually wanted to study Korea, after being in the Korean war, but there were no classes, ...more
Özlem ER
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As I am interested in latecomer industrial development and the strategic use of design, this book provided me valuable insight. The writing style is very engaging and reads well.
Chapter 12, Design Revolution is the most interesting part for readers who are interested in design leadership and visionary management.
The book also gives insight into the marketing tactics and efforts of Samsung to break away from the image of a fast following company. The collaboration with marketing professionals hav
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book certainly was a history of Samsung. The author managed to fill the book with the most minute details and obsequious pictures of people. Neither did justice to this over worded book.

Samsung is South Korea and South Korea is Samsung. If you are part of the ruling family of Samsung you can pretty much get away with murder.

The other point is the desire to beat Apple’s iPhone. Samsung was able to beat Apple despite its many missteps. It took some smart Americans to help them.

I rather have m
Sabeeha Rehman
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
When a journalist writes a book, expect it to be packed with details. A glimpse into the rise of Sansung, the corruption, the role culture of the land plays in corporate Korea, is fascinating and disconcerting.
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Insightful read into the history and inner workings of both Samsung and Korea
Nicky Chalabi
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
The book is not bad per se; since, it provides certain insight into company, operational model, management approach and cultural ambience. I found the first part of the book much more engaging and informative due to its description of Samsung's foundation and first generation's obstacles and troubles when edificing the empire. However, down the road the book wraps itself into pessimistic synopsis. The author clearly possesses negative bias against the company, does not display an objective view ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Interesting read. I'd forgotten about the Note 7 debacle (where the phone would spontaneously combust) and The Next Big Things ad series ( ). ...more
Benjamin Scheerer
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I thought Cain did an excellent job at capturing the intensity at which Samsung did business. Having very little experience with Korean business culture, this was eye opening and very educational. I did not see this book being too dramatic and negative (as past reviewers commented), if anything it painted the entire picture of the Samsung legacy in a format that was an easy read, as well as very entertaining.
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Quick, easy to read book, ostensibly telling the tale of Samsung since its inception, but in particular from 1990s on.

When I picked it up, I clearly knew what I wanted this book to be and what I expected it to be. I wanted it to be a story of the early days of Samsung, something that could really explain how the Chaebols operated and their contribution to early South Korean growth. This book is not that. I expected it to be a self-aggrandising story about how Samsung truly is the most innovative
X Li
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
A highly readable account of how the Samsung Group (or the "Republic of Samsung") in three generations built itself into one of the largest, most visible companies in the world. Mirroring the determined rise of South Korea, the book describes how Samsung marched to its heights today by focusing on 1) rapid-fire incremental innovation - relentlessly benchmarking itself to companies it considered to be market leaders, 2) major improvements in quality (point driven home when the chairman of Samsung ...more
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Samsung Rising: How a South Korean Giant Set Out to Beat Apple and Conquer Tech, author and journalist Geoffrey Cain exposes the once suger, paper, and fertilizer producing company that became Samsung in the aftermath of the Second World War until Spring 2019, having beaten Apple as most profitable company, yet struggling with technology, sentenced board members, and more to survive. With 369,000 employees (compared to Apple’s 80,000, and Google’s 48,000), Samsung's a global player, while mak ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was very interesting. After the first chapter or so I thought, what have I gotten myself into? Is he just going to bash Samsung the whole book? But it turned out to not be the case. I learned so many interesting things about the Samsung-Apple relationship and the advertising and political world in both the U.S. and Korea.
সাদমান হুসাইন
While I got to read about many unique business cases that otherwise won't be possible to study, this book ends rather abruptly. To be honest, it had to end this way, because the story of Samsung is one that will be continued in the long-term future, no book can tell everything about its journey.

Pretty enjoyable book if you want to read about multinational companies forming, their cultural and policy-level clashes when they move into different countries with different societal systems, and backgr
Khryzette Onishi
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.5

Deducted 0.5 stars for the lack of author’s opinion or take on Samsung. Usually I’d give a bigger deduction on this, but the same thing helped me read the stories from an unbiased perspective and come up with my own take on Samsung.

What I loved about it: the way the stories are laid out for readers made me want to turn and turn the pages!

What I got out from this book: Being an Apple fan myself for so long, I’ve only used Samsung phone products as back up to my main phone. But because
박은정 Park
What the Samsung empire went through. The social benefits, it's militarism culture, it's struggle to change. ...more
Paul Dunahoo
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Top-heavy management structures easily result in toxic corporate cultures. Toxic corporate cultures result in inferior results. That is the over-arching message of Samsung Rising, which chronicles the role of the South Korean company's complex network of managers and hereditary owners in their rise to dominance over their country's economy and their pursuit to beat Apple during the so-called smartphone wars. The author does seem to get distracted somewhat by latter topic in the second half of th ...more
Daniel Tudor
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm a friend of the Geoffrey Cain, so whatever I say will be biased - but as a fellow author, I'm deeply impressed with Geoff's achievement here.

Samsung is a gigantic success story, but the company itself is so secretive that they'd rather you didn't know how it happened. However, over a period of five or six years and via interviews with countless people, Geoff has managed to lift the lid on the Lee family and their empire. I can attest to the effort and single-minded dedication he has applied
Zach Long
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The bookend is the explosion of the Note 7. It was an undeniable disaster, and the story attempts to describe how Samsung got there. From a vegetable store under Japanese Imperial rule, Samsung meaning “Three Star” in Korean, its structure was inspired by another tech giant you may have heard of called Sony. A Japanese company.

This sort of imbroglio of unexpected circumstances seems to define South Korea and its intertwined system of family rule between the government and its nationalistic compa
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Captivating from the opening pages with the mystery of the Galaxy Note 7 malfunctions. Cain uncovers an organizational culture problem that results in the teetering of the House of Lee/Republic of Samsung. Cain creates composites based on over 400 interviews that shed light on the pivot from making quality products ( after the 1993 Frankfurt Declaration) to leveraging brand power to obscure strategic mistakes and design flaws. The inside baseball stories about how Samsung lost Android and Waze t ...more
Shobhit Pundir
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Did u know..buying a 1000$ Apple iphone X earns 110$ in revenue to its arch-rival samsung or Samsung CT was the main contractor during construction of Burj khalifa-tallest skyscraper in the world. " Samsung rising " is a gripping narrative of most profitable company of south korea and one of most respected electronics giant of the world by Geoffery Cain.Started as a trading company in 1938 by Lee byung chul ,samsung has had its tryst with controversies and political scandals throughout its histo ...more
Yuting Leong
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written with the flair of investigative journalism, it was a page turner. Being an avid user of the Note series, and embroiled in the explosive Note 7 saga, I am personally invested in Samsung. It was liberating to get a different perspective on what had actually led to the mishap instead of just putting the blame on faulty batteries.

The content is not Samsung-endorsed but the author had interviewed many insiders through his extensive network on what had transpired both inside and out. The book
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Geoffrey Cain is an investigative journalist and technology writer who reported from Asia and the Middle East for twelve years. He’s contributed to the Economist, Time, the Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other magazines and newspapers. His first book, Samsung Rising: The Inside Story of the South Korean Giant That Set Out to Beat Apple and Conquer Tech, was longlisted for the Financial Times a ...more

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“engineer, along with a hundred others, began his hike that night near Samsung’s Everland theme park, traversing the mountains around Yongin—a distance of sixty-four kilometers (about forty miles)—through the day and overnight. The hike was designed to test the team’s mental toughness as they prepared to race forward making a 64K DRAM chipset, an early semiconductor used in calculators.” 0 likes
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