Best Startup Book of 2016: Chaos Monkeys

We recently included Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley in our Best Books of 2016 for Entrepreneurs. I’m a big fan of Chaos Monkeys. While the story is about tech, Garcia Martinez makes it an interesting read for anyone. This book is a great way for folks outside the startup and tech to get a look inside the world Silicon Valley.

The first half of the book is about the author’s path into startups - from leaving Goldman Sachs to entering an adtech company and finally launching his own startup called AdGrok. With AdGrok quickly accepted to the elite Y Combinator accelerator, the co-founders’ startup adventures begin in earnest: demo day, acquisitions, pivots, oh my.  The second half of the book is about the author’s experience at Facebook and provides great insights into the days of Facebook pre-revenue.

One of the pleasures of reading Chaos Monkeys is that it’s damn juicy. Another - less guilty - pleasure is that it’s rich in aphorisms. Turn to almost any page of the book and you’ll find a pithy statement you beg yourself to remember. “To be a startup, miracles need to happen. But a precise number of miracles.” “It’s not the rats who first abandon a sinking ship. It’s the crew members who know how to swim.”

Garcia Martinez as a narrator points out different faults, strengths and historical comparisons to Silicon Valley leaders. But, his microscopic view on these traits of tech leaders shows that Silicon Valley has more in common with the corporate world and politics than we would (like to) think.


Further Reading/Resources:

This Week in Startups – Jason and Antonio discuss Chaos Monkeys and go further into his story in this interview.

Recode – Antonio Garcia Martinez discusses Chaos Monkeys and Silicon Valley in this podcast episode of Recode Decode

The New York Times Review – “Mr. Garcia is not just a keen observer of corporate and social culture, but a thoughtful business and policy analyst armed with a highly refined detector for pretentious nonsense.”

TechCrunch – TechCrunch’s headline says it all: “Chaos Monkeys is this year’s best non-business book about business.”

Vanity Fair – An excerpt from Chaos Monkeys that showcases Mark Zuckerburg’s reaction to the launch of Google+

NPRChaos Monkeys is also one of NPR’s top books of 2016

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