Antonio García Martínez chronicles his two-year stint at Facebook and ten months in the start-up scene in a juicy and gossipy book entitled Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine. It makes for an interesting read as it provides insight into what is going on in the heads of some of the characters that make up the dynamic scene of the Silicon Valley: Y Combinator, Venture Capitalists, startups, and technology giants like Twitter and Facebook. However, it should all be taken with a grain of salt as Martínez steers too far in the direction of waging a personal vendetta against his “enemies”. I understand that he tries to be absolutely blunt but there is too much disdain and resentment in this book.
Nevertheless, I appreciate Martínez’ effort to unveil the “true colors” of the Silicon Valley – the “fake it till you make it” culture where a lot of decisions are actually done based on a hunch while exuding a mask of confidence. However, confidence can quickly turn into arrogance as Martínez demonstrates by his own character. Towards the end of the book, he divulges the technical aspects of his project within Facebook Ads with excess detail, most likely in an effort to show that he was ultimately right or had the better product. At this point, the story loses its intrigue.
Martínez is a great example of the very people he is critical of, thus making Chaos Monkeys a sincere reflection of some of the dark sides and people in the Silicon Valley. Despite continuously expressing his resentment towards Facebook, there is no doubt he tried appeasing the higher powers in order to climb the corporate ladder. The fact that he didn’t – resulted in this book. Nonetheless, it was an interesting read up until the chapter “Leaping Headlong” (p. 291 out of 500, yes 500…) to learn a bit about the Silicon Valley startup scene and Facebook culture.
But don’t expect to feel good after this read or to come away with new knowledge to take over the Silicon Valley. Think of it as an accumulation of Quora posts collected over several years about the Silicon Valley by one guy. And it’s usually helpful to see what others have to say.