Book review: Learning Curve

Learning Curve by Michael S. Malone


First Line, Bottom Line: run, don’t walk to get this book about Silicon Valley. Michael Malone has written award-winning nonfiction books about business and Silicon Valley, but this is his first novel.

The book follows the adventures of two CEOs, one from a small startup and one from a large, well established S/W company. As they negotiate the rough and tumble of VC funding, slipping product release dates, and deteriorating personal lives, you see stories that are very familiar.

While the characters and companies are fictitious, the story is set in recognizable locations throughout the valley. It’s fun to know the restaurants, bars, and hotels where the action happens. If you work in SV, you will love the mirror that Malone holds up to your world. If you have not worked in this “magic kingdom” of wealth and Asperger’s, this will give you a realistic tour of the territory.
The book is laced with descriptions of life in the technology fast lane. Just to whet your appetite, a couple of my favorite paragraphs:

“No one likes to say it, but ninety-five percent of all the important things are done by five percent of the people. The Valley is about innovation, and innovation is done by geniuses, and everyone else is basically just standing around waiting to help make it work.

“…those guys in the five percent, the geniuses ‘ and they can be in the lab, in marketing, sales, even accounting ‘ are almost universally assholes. They know how good they are, and that usually makes them the most insufferable cocksuckers you’ve ever met.”

I don’t read fiction. Always seems like a waste of time. When I received a free copy of this book at the recent GROW Awards for the Association for Corporate Growth, I said to myself, “OK, I’ll give this guy one page.” Couldn’t put it down. I got so involved with the story and the characters, as it all comes together in the final pages, I had tears streaming down my cheeks.

Jazz player Sonny Rollins said “The glory isn’t in grasping the ring; the glory is in reaching for it.” All of that happens in Learning Curve.

2 thoughts on “Book review: Learning Curve

  1. Am enjoying reading the blog Rick. Sometime watch the "Silicon Valley" series on HBO for another satiric view of that culture. It’s informed, funny and profane, also based on some of the "insufferable" types and situations this book features.

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