The Big Score by Michael Malone

Summary

  1. Silicon Valley has always been about the future, not the present – and never the past…As we grow further and further away from that early era, we are also losing our connection to the factors that made the Valley great. That is a dangerous thing, because we risk also losing those factors that have been the real engines of our success…In that recovered knowledge may lie the key to the future

Key Takeaways

  1. Isolation from the east coast social hierarchy, rules, and processes and the acceptance of failure allowed Silicon Valley to experiment, fail, and flourish
  2. It was the wild west with unbridled ambition
  3. HP men had “an unusual sensitivity to the feelings of others.” This is what made all the difference – value pricing, finest management, created the playbook that others ran
  4. Shockley – able to distill problems without getting confused by extraneous stuff, but was a terrible manager.
    1. Noyce was the opposite – trusting, respect, decency, equality. Knew he needed to be liked, so he surrounded himself with tough lieutenants
  5. Valentine organized Fairchild by markets which ripped open the ability to grow and expand for the company – 4 little independent companies inside Fairchild – each had its own sales, product marketing, engineering, and even advertising and legal departments
  6. Intel – social engineering, paradox, giant research team, perfect triumvirate with Moore, Noyce, Grove
  7. Shannon had pulled off something remarkable; he had linked the controllable behavior of machines with a system of logic that encompassed all science, perhaps even all human thought. The Age of Computers had begun – and hard on its heels the rise of information theory, the great organizer of the postwar world
  8. Recessions have proven over and again that they are boon times for entrepreneurs
  9. IBM Fellowships were used to keep top talent around (IBM’s velvet trap)
  10. Activision – Levy listed the game designers’ names on the cartridges, he announced them on television ads. The expected happened: certain top designers actually gained a following, a steady, loyal cadre of fans who could be relied upon to buy each new offering by that “author.” What’s more, despite their vulnerability to head hunters, these ego-satiated designers remained loyal to Activision
  11. When business is good, anything goes
  12. Incredible retelling of Jobs/Woz/Apple
    1. Jobs’ most important contribution to Apple: his dead-eye accuracy at understanding precisely what his generation thought of itself and then playing that tune in perfect pitch
    2. Reformers and revolutionaries, by eschewing long established and long verified rules of conduct, often slip into behavior far worse than that which they once derided

What I got out of it

  1. Inspiring, energizing, informative, important. Makes you want to get out and build one of these firms that influences not only its customers, but the way business is done