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The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story [Paperback]

Michael J. LEWIS
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 18 2001
As American capitalism undergoes a seismic shift, Michael Lewis, author of the bestselling Liar's Poker, sets out on a Silicon Valley safari to find the true representative of the coming economic age. All roads lead to Jim Clark, the man who rewrote the rules of American capitalism as the founder of (so far) three multi-billion dollar companies--Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and Healtheon. Lewis's shrewd, often brilliantly funny, narrative provides ahead-of-the-curve observations about the Internet explosion and how the success of Silicon Valley companies is forcing a reassessment of traditional Wall-Street business models.

Weaving Clark's story together with that of this new business phenomenon, Lewis has drawn us a map of markets and free enterprise in the twenty-first century and blown the lid off the changing economy.


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Product Description

From Amazon

Michael Lewis was supposed to be writing about how Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape, was going to turn health care on its ear by launching Healtheon, which would bring the vast majority of the industry's transactions online. So why was he spending so much time on a computerized yacht, each feature installed because, as one technician put it, "someone saw it on Star Trek and wanted one just like it?"

Much of The New New Thing, to be fair, is devoted to the Healtheon story. It's just that Jim Clark doesn't do startups the way most people do. "He had ceased to be a businessman," as Lewis puts it, "and become a conceptual artist." After coming up with the basic idea for Healtheon, securing the initial seed money, and hiring the people to make it happen, Clark concentrated on the building of Hyperion, a sailboat with a 197-foot mast, whose functions are controlled by 25 SGI workstations (a boat that, if he wanted to, Clark could log onto and steer--from anywhere in the world). Keeping up with Clark proves a monumental challenge--"you didn't interact with him," Lewis notes, "so much as hitch a ride on the back of his life"--but one that the author rises to meet with the same frenetic energy and humor of his previous books, Liar's Poker and Trail Fever.

Like those two books, The New New Thing shows how the pursuit of power at its highest levels can lead to the very edges of the surreal, as when Clark tries to fill out an investment profile for a Swiss bank, where he intends to deposit less than .05 percent of his financial assets. When asked to assess his attitude toward financial risk, Clark searches in vain for the category of "people who sought to turn ten million dollars into one billion in a few months" and finally tells the banker, "I think this is for a different ... person." There have been a lot of profiles of Silicon Valley companies and the way they've revamped the economy in the 1990s--The New New Thing is one of the first books fully to depict the sort of man that has made such companies possible. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

While it purports to look at the business world of Silicon Valley through the lens of one man, that one man, Jim Clark, is so domineering that the book is essentially about Clark. No matter: Clark is as successful and interesting an example of Homo siliconus as any writer is likely to find. Lewis (Liar's Poker) has created an absorbing and extremely literate profile of one of America's most successful entrepreneurs. Clark has created three companiesASilicon Graphics, Netscape (now part of America Online) and HealtheonAeach valued at more than $1 billion by Wall Street. Lewis was apparently given unlimited access to Clark, a man motivated in equal parts by a love of the technology he helps to create and a desire to prove something to a long list of people whom he believes have done him wrong throughout his life (especially his former colleagues at Silicon Graphics). As Lewis looks at the various roles of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and programmers and at how these very different mindsets fit together in the anatomy of big deals, he gives readers a sense of how the Valley works. But the heart of the book remains Clark, who simultaneously does everything from supervise the creation of what may be the world's largest sloop to creating his fourth company (currently in the works). Lewis does a good job of putting Clark's accomplishments in context, and if he is too respectful of Clark's privacy (several marriages and children are mentioned but not elaborated on), he provides a detailed look at the professional life of one of the men who have changed the world as we know it. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The original plan, which Lord knows didn't mean very much when that plan had been made by Jim Clark, was that we would test the boat quickly in the North Sea and then sail it across the Atlantic Ocean. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disgusting portrait of greed and conceit April 28 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I've enjoyed other books my Michael Lewis (esp. Liar's Poker) but this one was sickening. He treats every action and word from Jim Clark as manna from heaven, apparently on the basis that Jim Clark is rich, therefore he must be a genius. One hopes that the 97% slide in Healtheon's stock may have set him straight on this. This book was [hard] to read in 2000. By now there might be a certain unintentional humor in reading this kind of pandering, knowing better, but a couple of hundred pages of it is probably more black humor than you need. For actual information about silicon valley and the dotcom era, try High Stakes, No Prisoners by Charles Ferguson, or Nudist on the Late Shift, by Po Bronson.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Life of an Internet Salesman July 14 2004
Format:Hardcover
When Lewis set out to write this book, he was attempting to expose and satirize silicon valley in the same way he had skewered wall street in his previous books. In the course of writing the book, he is introduced to Jim Clark. The New New Thing then becomes a hagiography of Clark's personality, ambitions, and achievements. Though I found the book entertaining and well-written, I was disappointed that the author casts such an unskeptical eye on Clark. Lewis saves his satire for the one person that most readers could empathize with - Allan (the Captain of Clark's boat) and an internet investor. One quarter of the book is devoted to Lewis's time on Clark's yacht - this narrative is wholly gratuitous and lends little to the story other than to show that the author had unparalleled acess to Clark. This book would be richer, if a preface was added. Lewis wrote this book before the NASDAQ topped off in March 2000 - and one wonders if Lewis would assign Clark any responsibility for the hype that was created and the real life consequences for those who lost large amounts of money in the ensuing crash.
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Format:Hardcover
Michael Lewis is the author of several entertaining books, such as Liar's Poker (1989), Next: The Future Just Happened (2001), Moneyball (2003).
The author explains that it was not his intention to write an autobiography about Jim Clark, but he was trying to capture the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley. However, due to the amazing enthusiasm of multiple entrepreneur Jim Clark Lewis ends up following Clark. Jim Clark, who originally was a technology professor, is the first person to start 3 companies that each exceed a market valuation of $1 billion each: Silicon Graphics, Netscape, Healtheon. The book starts with the maiden trial of Jim Clark's multi-million dollar yacht 'Hyperion'. This enormous yacht is full of (ridiculous) technology and should be able sail on its own. The trial of the 'Hyperion' is just the start of an almost endless list of crazy, wild stories about technology companies, Internet start-ups, and IPOs'. The author seems to have trouble keeping up with Jim Clark's ideas and (true) stories.
Yes, I do like this book. Although it mainly focuses on multi-entrepeneur Jim Clark, it also describes the stories behind various Internet-companies (AOL, Yahoo!, Microsoft, etc.) and the Internet bubble. The writing style of the author is extremely entertaining, while still containing lots of information and facts. The book feels like a rollercoaster, but it is great fun!! I recommend it highly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A New Way to Look At the Business World April 21 2003
By Heidi
Format:Paperback
Lewis takes what would be a boring subject to most people and turns it into an interesting and creative book. Lewis combines the history of the Internet and a narrative to create a book that teaches readers about the business world. Since this book was not just history, it made me interested in what Lewis was writing about.
"The New New World" is about Jim Clark setting out to conform his business to the coorporate world he is competing against. Clark is the founder of three multi-billion dollar companies and must compete against other multi-billion dollar companies such as Microsoft to stay successful.
Through this book you are able to see the business world in a new light. It is not what some people might see it as. "The New New World" is an intriging book that changes the conventional thinking to a new world of thinking through the mind of Jim Clark.
It is a good book that combines the business world, economics and a narrative to create a book that allows readers to see the new way to look at the business world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Boat Obession & future ideas April 15 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I found the book New New Thing to be quite interesting about Jim Clark's ideas and how he took them beyond thoughts and turned them into reality ahead of their time. Michael Lewis wrote the book in a manner that was different from what I am used to reading. The story jumped around from the sailboat, Clark's childhood, to the venture capitalist and engineers involved in Clark's businesses back to the boat and again about his personal life with his family. If I were a person looking to read a book about the technology ideas of Clark's I would have to say that this would not be the book. It comes across as a 'soap opera'.

However, I did enjoy reading how Clark founded the companies Netscape and Healtheon. He is a very determined individual and does not put up with people standing in his way. He has the guts to do what he wants to do. You learn how Clark made millions from ideas that others thought would not. I found it to be an enjoyable read about technology and Silicon Valley.
And finally, Clark was somewhat successful in sailing his boat across the ocean to the states, with many glitches with the computers and some human interaction.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Liars poker
Very well written but gives an insight into Clark's life more than an insight into Silicon Valley. Reads more like a biography and does not capture the wheeling dealing in Silicon... Read more
Published on May 6 2004 by Prashanth Kumar
5.0 out of 5 stars A Silicon Valley Story
I really enjoyed the story line here. Jim Clark was portrayed as a man who had vision, yet the desire to never be "locked in" to something for too long. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2004 by George Z. Marootian
3.0 out of 5 stars Trying too hard to glamourize boring character
This book is a product of its time; a time when the most boring people could be considered the coolest people in the world, a time when technological prowess was considered above... Read more
Published on March 10 2003 by Denis Benchimol Minev
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Perspective
The Biography of Jim Clark, a Silicon Valley multimillionaire, who dropped out of high school when he was Seventeen. The book went through his life up until present day. Read more
Published on March 7 2003 by Alex Mercer
4.0 out of 5 stars Greed
You see the "new economy" or that "dot com bubble" blow up and pop in this book. Greed driven by innovation or innovation driven by greed. You take you pick. Read more
Published on Dec 6 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Imformative reading!
Lewis is very effective in his effort to chronicle a part of Jim Clark's life wherein he was able to change the technology industry not once, but several times. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2002 by F. Ziller
4.0 out of 5 stars Even more interesting after the tech bubble burst
When this book was written, Silicon Valley was the center of the universe, the tech company were the princes and venture capitalists were kings. Read more
Published on Sept. 15 2002 by J. J. Kwashnak
4.0 out of 5 stars Let's Put Some Lipstick On This Pig
The majority of the reviews on this board have apparently overlooked the real reason this is a good book. This is not a good book because it was well written; it was not. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2002
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