CTech's Book Review: an Honest and Critical Look at the History of Tech Companies
Zeev Farbman, co-founder and CEO of Lightricks, on Merrill R. Chapman’s "In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters"
Title: In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High Tech Marketing Disasters
Author: Merrill R. Chapman
Where: on a plane, during a vacation, and at home
Description: when it comes to the software industry, the book argues that winners are mostly companies that managed to avoid gross mistakes after their initial success, rather than companies that took smart steps after their initial success.
Summary: the book aims to paint a realistic picture of some of the biggest events in the software industry, taking place during the last quarter of the 20th century. The book revises the established myths and narratives created by the winners in the software industry and helps readers understand what lessons to derive from the experience of others. The book also narrates the tales of successful companies risking their initial success by making seemingly very human mistakes.
Bottom line: I definitely recommend this book. It provides an unusually honest and critical look at the history of tech companies, without glorifying the winners.
What I’ve learned:
-Common sense is not that common. Having a big successful company does not prevent one from making blatant mistakes.
-Avoiding mistakes and being cautious is sometimes more important than genius business moves.
-After significant initial success, it is easy to fall victim to thoughts of complacency, invincibility, and infallibility. At some point, reality will give you a wakeup call.
-History is written by the winners. Current favorable narratives of software winners are far from representative.
Critique: sometimes the author tries to be critical for the sake of being critical. He also paints things a certain way to support his thesis. Therefore, in no way does the book provide a definite or impartial view of the software industry. However, I do recognize that the over-the-top style of writing is funny, keeps you at the helm of your interest, and serves as a nice antidote compared to how typical origin stories are told.
Who should read this book: if you have ever gone on TechCrunch, or any other major tech news outlet for that matter, you might enjoy reading this book.
If you are working in the tech industry, this book is probably a must. It will give the reader a new perspective on what are the actual lessons to derive from the success of other companies. It will also help you cut through the rich narratives created by these companies.