Thursday, November 9, 2017

Kruse's Keys: Read Chaos Monkeys for a Primer on the Tech/Startup World in Silicon Valley and beyond

Chaos Monkeys is a book bulging with so much saucy insider details that you feel a little guilty reading it.  I always enjoy pairing recommendations when it comes to books and I'd recommend pairing this one with Horowitz's The Hard Thing About Hard Things which I wrote about here.  The combination of the two books serve as a great introduction to anyone interested in the tech industry and entrepreneurship.  I point this out in particular for any transitioning vets looking in that direction.

Notably, readers will find Chaos Monkeys of particular value if they are looking to get into the weeds of starting their own company, launching an idea, or courting investors--this book is literally chocked full with essential information.

Beyond that, however, there was much lacking in Martinez' life choices (in my personal opinion).  He doesn't delve to far into it, but he made very deliberate choices over being present as a father to his daughter early on in the book and rationalizes his absences as better for her.  All that to say, don't expect to finish the book feeling great about the story--which is more an indictment of the rather sordid way things are done in Silicon Valley than of the author himself.

Key Quotes:
  • "To paraphrase [Marc Andreesen], in the future there will be two types of jobs: people who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what they will do." (25)
  • "If your idea is any good, it won't get stolen, you'll have to jam it down people's throats instead." (49)
  • "When confronted with any startup idea, ask yourself one simple question: How many miracles have to happen for this to succeed?" (50).  
  • "Love is grand, but hate and fear last longer." Martinez commenting what drives people to his conception of greatness, whether it be to prove someone wrong or to protect oneself or family (166).
  • "If we don't create the thing that kills Facebook, someone else will." From one of last pages in a book distributed to all Facebook employees by Zuckerberg (343).
  • "This was one of the very reasons for working at Facebook.  Everyone got their show in the end."  Martinez describing a Facebook gala (370).
Key Takeaways:

  •  Useful read for any veteran transitioning to the tech/entrepreneur/business sector.  It gives a good reality check as to how things work.
  • Done is always better than good (294)
  • Every large company (with leverage) sucks out the information it needs for development by taking meetings with smaller companies and partners and figuring out how to hack it (390). 
  • Martinez captures the truth of how IPOs work rather succinctly in about a page summary (418). 
  •  Good ideas aren't as valuable as the team behind them, especially in the early startup stages (49).   Incidentally, you should start by reading the How to Start a Startup Blog post by Paul Graham (48).    You should also note his admonition that most successful startups only require one miracle (e.g., like Airbnb getting people to rent out their spare bedrooms to total strangers) (50). 
  •  If you've got an interview coming up at a tech company or an application at the Y Combinator, you should be able to answer the question: What non-computer system have you hacked? (52)

Key References (2016 softcover edition)

WOW Info:
p. 70  Tech and H1B visa-like servitude
p. 81  Key words pricing and screwing over slimy lawyers
p. 311 On Sheryl Sandberg, longtime COO at Facebook:  "the woman knew how to run a roomful of big names and even bigger egos."
p. 314-5  Ads security and lack of porn in your feed
p. 318  New Zealand as test nation for new FB products
p. 328-9  FB buys your data, it doesn't sell it
p. 355  equivalence in extremes of cap and communism:  The people's republic of FB
p. 358-9  Difference between early and late stage employees
P. 376-7  LOX Logout screen importance
p. 386  opportunity for direct mail conversion to digital
p. 390  How things work in development
p. 418  How IPOs work

p. 49  Good ones never stolen
p. 50   Startups and miracles
p. 51  Importance of the pivot
p. 83  last mile of advertising still not cracked
p. 88  need a CEO in a startup--you can't go 50/50
p. 294  role of product managers
p. 296  importance of choosing metrics because that's what people work to
p. 305-6  lifestyle mortgage/hack with self over family
p. 321  on being technical as a PM

Interview Questions:
p. 52  What non-computer system have you hacked?

p. 47   Hacking: as understood by the technical worker
p. 43   Dog fooding: using one's own product
p. 19   CDS--credit default swap
p. 103  Chaos monkey:
p. 113-5  The "cap"
p. 116  Diltuion: as an entrepreneurs biggest enemy
p. 129  Carry: VC titles: what matters is whether they earn "carry"
p.269  Facebook written in PHP.
p. 317  A buck: a million dollars for the Wall Street types
p. 318  A/B Testing: a select audience gets the new version to work out the kinks.  New Zealand is commonly used for this by tech companies
p. 361  Cognitive dissonance: used to explain Facebook's initial marketing failures
p. 455 Technical debt: the shortcut dirty technical code work necessary in software development but which has to be paid off eventually.

p. 83  Real problems are always people problems
p. 294  done is always better than good

Rabbit Hole/Name Dropping:
Don FaulLinkedIn Profile.  "He resembled a more strapping version of Don Draper" that's about as good of an endorsement as you can get from Martinez.  Former marine, then manager of online ops at FB in Chaos Monkeys--now CEO of Athos (an athlete training system) (312)
A16Z Podcast interview between Faul and Andreesen

Vic Gundotra--Author of google plus--when he left google, it was a signal that Facebook had won and Google was out of the 'social' game.  He's now the CEO of AliveCor (wearable ECG tech): LinkedIn Profile (443, 493)

Malcom MacLean: Inventor of the intermodal shipping container.  Martinez compares this with how internet advertising normal works--except for "native ad formats" which big companies like Facebook and Twitter can demand--these require special containers (447)
Malcolm McLean: Savior of the Shipping Industry  (314)

Paul Graham: Martinez calls him the smart tech investor ever and he was the initial made the enabled AdGrok to make it. (157)
About a million Paul Graham articles/essays
10 Things I Learned From Paul Graham at the Y Combinator
How to Start a Startup Blog post by Paul Graham

Sam Altman:  Head of Y-Combinator at time of the book's publishing.  "You could parachute him into an island full of cannibals and come back in five years and he'd be the king" -Paul Graham (160-161)  Crunchbase Profile

Chamath Palihapitiya:  "One of the men most responsible for Facebook's success.  Also a competitive poker player.  His intro speech to new employees carried the taglines:  Make an Impact, Get In Over Your Head, Done is Better Than Perfect.  LinkedIn Profile (265)

Jessica Livingston: Wife of Paul Graham and YC partner.  Her book Founders at Work is mentioned as mandatory reading by Martinez.

No comments:

Post a Comment