Summary of Chaos Monkeys

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8 Overall

7 Importance

8 Innovation

9 Style


By his own account, Antonio García Martinez suffers profound flaws. His sins include chronic disloyalty to his employers and indifference to his children. He’s greedy and “ruthless.” This all makes him an ideal tour guide to the pitfalls of Silicon Valley. By embracing his own amorality, the former tech entrepreneur frees himself to write a snarky, brutally honest look at life in the tech capital. He labels San Francisco “a cultural desert” and describes a Facebook exec as exuding “an air of arrogance that stank like bad aftershave.” The publisher’s libel attorney likely spent many hours vetting this manuscript, but it’s a romp to read and an enlightening guide to business in the Valley. The author worked as a Wall Street quant and cadged a $10 million offer for a doomed start-up. getAbstract recommends his uncensored tale to investors, entrepreneurs and interested onlookers seeking an unvarnished view of Silicon Valley.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the founders of Ad-Grok launched their Silicon Valley start-up;
  • How the CEO sold the company to Twitter and sold himself to Facebook; and
  • What developments take place behind the façades at Twitter, Facebook and Google.

About the Author

Antonio García Martinez has been an adviser to Twitter, a product manager for Facebook, the CEO-founder of AdGrok and a strategist at Goldman Sachs. He lives on a sailboat in San Francisco Bay. 



From Wall Street to Silicon Valley

Antonio García Martinez spent five years working on his doctorate in physics at Berkeley, where his annual stipend was $19,000. At Goldman Sachs, where he created models and prices for credit derivatives, he found a land where lacrosse-playing graduates of Penn and Cornell pulled down six-figure salaries and seven-figure bonuses. Compared to the high-earning traders, “quants were eunuchs at the orgy.” García Martinez earned a front-row seat to Wall Street’s great debauch. Traders once saw as “basically the traders’ little bitches,” but by 2007, quants had all but replaced traders on Wall Street. In 2008, as the financial crisis deepened, García Martinez ditched Wall Street for Silicon Valley. He joined Adchemy. He found that the tech industry, at its heart, is “a mad scramble of money, data and pixels.” In traditional media, the ads marketers use a rectangle on a page to sell cars or houses. In new media, advertisers target consumers according to such traits as age, gender and location. When you visit Facebook, CNN or any other site, your attention becomes a commodity, much like a share of stock. This new model offers two types of ads based on the user’s time frame. Sellers target “direct response” ads to reach people who are about to make a purchase. If you’re on Nordstrom’s website looking at shirts, the shirt ad you see is a direct response spot. But if your buying cycle takes longer, the commercial directed toward you is “brand advertising.” Google earns billions a year by selling ads next to a user’s search results. An attorney, for example, might pay Google $5.55 each time someone clicks on an ad that appears after a user enters the search phrase “Nevada divorce lawyer.” The most valuable key word is “mesothelioma,” the lung disease people get due to asbestos exposure. Its cost can go up to $90 a click.

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    Antonio Valentini 8 months ago
    Interesting overview of the startup life. I'm pretty sure if I ever met Antonio I wouldn't much like him given how he seems to view things...but I would give him a chance if he has become more humble.

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