Book Summary: No Exit

No Exit

One of my favorite movies from the past 5 years is The Social Network, which started as an Academy Award-winning screenplay written by David Fincher about the inception and rise of Facebook. What made the movie so exciting was that it captured the excitement and exuberance of being at the early stages of something that would grow to transform the world.

Of course, this experience isn’t more than a pipe dream for the vast majority of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. But we rarely hear about those, or the incredible hardship of chasing dreams in such an unimaginably cutthroat environment. That is what this book is about: the story of the downtrodden, overworked, and bewildered entrepreneurs who come to Silicon Valley everyday by planeload.

The Entrepreneurial Gauntlet

Most of us have our typical grind: wake up, fulfill the responsibilities that we’ve committed to, and spend the rest of our time pursuing personal activities that give our life meaning. This is a relatively carefree existence compared to the average tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, juggling five balls at once knowing the roof can fall on you at any moment, dashing all of your dreams in an instant. As the author of No Exit states, “San Francisco is full of people walking around with their pockets stuffed with 1.2 percent of nothing.”

That’s the price you pay for living the dream and having a crack at the distant possibility of becoming one of the minted legends of the valley. It’s the American Dream of Northern California, and a complement to the American Dream of Southern California: to come from nowhere and rise to notoriety within the impossibly-difficult-to-get-noticed film industry. Los Angeles proudly holds up the Jonah Hills, the Chris Pratts, and the Seth Rogans just as San Francisco has heartwarming stories about WhatsApp, Instagram, and Beats getting acquired for billions.

As the author explains, it’s not about a lack of money available to entrepreneurs. It’s that the money you raise is usually just enough to get you in deep trouble: “It’s pretty easy to get enough money to get in over your head and pretty hard to get enough money to stay afloat. The fact is that the rising tide does more drowning than it does lifting”.

Favorite Passages

“The faster and more athletically they pivot, iterate, and fail, the less time they waste chasing a dead product and the more time they give themselves to develop something that will find or create a market. But the lean mentality demands necessitate a stoic detachment. After all, if you get too attached to what you’re building, you won’t know when to pivot away from it. What’s important isn’t that you make what you thought you wanted to make or that you really give a shit about the quality of the content at all, but that you learn to build the thing most desired by the biggest market.”

“As the engineer and writer Alex Payne put it, these startups represent “the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions,” doing low-overhead, low-risk R& D for five corporate giants. In such a system, the real disillusionment isn’t the discovery that you’re unlikely to become a billionaire; it’s the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy, and that the vast majority of you have been set up to fail by design.”

Conclusion

The counter point that this book offers to the popular culture Silicon Valley narrative has great value. It’s authored by a disillusioned dreamer on the ground and fighting, which gives this testimony additional gravity. I much prefer this first person perspective to that of a journalist recreating the emotional turbulence that actual entrepreneurs experience in this hectic environment.

We’re all attracted to stories with a happy ending, and there isn’t one here except for this: lesson learned.  There’s a reason why you don’t see people in their 40’s on this grind: the physical and emotional toll that it takes is simply too great.

Amazon link: No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush

Rating:

4 Stars

“The iOS developer was the only one of my housemates with a university degree from an Ivy. He’d liked the first two years fine, but once he realized he wanted to study computer science, he knew everything else was a waste of time. The kid from Appalachia agreed that there was no longer a point to college. Most of the people at the flophouse had dropped out. “The whole university system,” he said, “is going to be made obsolete because of technology.”

“The faster and more athletically they pivot, iterate, and fail, the less time they waste chasing a dead product and the more time they give themselves to develop something that will find or create a market. But the lean mentality demands necessitate a stoic detachment. After all, if you get too attached to what you’re building, you won’t know when to pivot away from it. What’s important isn’t that you make what you thought you wanted to make or that you really give a shit about the quality of the content at all, but that you learn to build the thing most desired by the biggest market.”

“As the engineer and writer Alex Payne put it, these startups represent “the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions,” doing low-overhead, low-risk R& D for five corporate giants. In such a system, the real disillusionment isn’t the discovery that you’re unlikely to become a billionaire; it’s the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy, and that the vast majority of you have been set up to fail by design.”

Conclusion

The counter point that this book offers to the popular culture Silicon Valley narrative has great value. It’s authored by a disillusioned dreamer on the ground and fighting, which gives this testimony additional gravity. I much prefer this first person perspective to that of a journalist recreating the emotional turbulence that actual entrepreneurs experience in this hectic environment.

We’re all attracted to stories with a happy ending, and there isn’t one here except for this: lesson learned.  There’s a reason why you don’t see people in their 40’s on this grind: the physical and emotional toll that it takes is simply too great.

Amazon link: No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush

Rating:

4 Stars

“Due in part to the rise of startup accelerators like Y Combinator, as well as to the surplus capital washing around the Valley from recent IPOs, it has never been easier to raise a small amount of money, say $ 1 million. And it has never been easier to build a company— especially a web or mobile product— from that small amount of money, thanks in part to the proliferation of cheap, easy development tools and such cloud platforms as Amazon Web Services.”

“The iOS developer was the only one of my housemates with a university degree from an Ivy. He’d liked the first two years fine, but once he realized he wanted to study computer science, he knew everything else was a waste of time. The kid from Appalachia agreed that there was no longer a point to college. Most of the people at the flophouse had dropped out. “The whole university system,” he said, “is going to be made obsolete because of technology.”

“The faster and more athletically they pivot, iterate, and fail, the less time they waste chasing a dead product and the more time they give themselves to develop something that will find or create a market. But the lean mentality demands necessitate a stoic detachment. After all, if you get too attached to what you’re building, you won’t know when to pivot away from it. What’s important isn’t that you make what you thought you wanted to make or that you really give a shit about the quality of the content at all, but that you learn to build the thing most desired by the biggest market.”

“As the engineer and writer Alex Payne put it, these startups represent “the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions,” doing low-overhead, low-risk R& D for five corporate giants. In such a system, the real disillusionment isn’t the discovery that you’re unlikely to become a billionaire; it’s the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy, and that the vast majority of you have been set up to fail by design.”

Conclusion

The counter point that this book offers to the popular culture Silicon Valley narrative has great value. It’s authored by a disillusioned dreamer on the ground and fighting, which gives this testimony additional gravity. I much prefer this first person perspective to that of a journalist recreating the emotional turbulence that actual entrepreneurs experience in this hectic environment.

We’re all attracted to stories with a happy ending, and there isn’t one here except for this: lesson learned.  There’s a reason why you don’t see people in their 40’s on this grind: the physical and emotional toll that it takes is simply too great.

Amazon link: No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush

Rating:

4 Stars

“Silicon Valley is not a place where one is invited to show frailty or despondence. It is “the place where everybody is killing it all the time.”

“Due in part to the rise of startup accelerators like Y Combinator, as well as to the surplus capital washing around the Valley from recent IPOs, it has never been easier to raise a small amount of money, say $ 1 million. And it has never been easier to build a company— especially a web or mobile product— from that small amount of money, thanks in part to the proliferation of cheap, easy development tools and such cloud platforms as Amazon Web Services.”

“The iOS developer was the only one of my housemates with a university degree from an Ivy. He’d liked the first two years fine, but once he realized he wanted to study computer science, he knew everything else was a waste of time. The kid from Appalachia agreed that there was no longer a point to college. Most of the people at the flophouse had dropped out. “The whole university system,” he said, “is going to be made obsolete because of technology.”

“The faster and more athletically they pivot, iterate, and fail, the less time they waste chasing a dead product and the more time they give themselves to develop something that will find or create a market. But the lean mentality demands necessitate a stoic detachment. After all, if you get too attached to what you’re building, you won’t know when to pivot away from it. What’s important isn’t that you make what you thought you wanted to make or that you really give a shit about the quality of the content at all, but that you learn to build the thing most desired by the biggest market.”

“As the engineer and writer Alex Payne put it, these startups represent “the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions,” doing low-overhead, low-risk R& D for five corporate giants. In such a system, the real disillusionment isn’t the discovery that you’re unlikely to become a billionaire; it’s the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy, and that the vast majority of you have been set up to fail by design.”

Conclusion

The counter point that this book offers to the popular culture Silicon Valley narrative has great value. It’s authored by a disillusioned dreamer on the ground and fighting, which gives this testimony additional gravity. I much prefer this first person perspective to that of a journalist recreating the emotional turbulence that actual entrepreneurs experience in this hectic environment.

We’re all attracted to stories with a happy ending, and there isn’t one here except for this: lesson learned.  There’s a reason why you don’t see people in their 40’s on this grind: the physical and emotional toll that it takes is simply too great.

Amazon link: No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush

Rating:

4 Stars

“Silicon Valley is not a place where one is invited to show frailty or despondence. It is “the place where everybody is killing it all the time.”

“Due in part to the rise of startup accelerators like Y Combinator, as well as to the surplus capital washing around the Valley from recent IPOs, it has never been easier to raise a small amount of money, say $ 1 million. And it has never been easier to build a company— especially a web or mobile product— from that small amount of money, thanks in part to the proliferation of cheap, easy development tools and such cloud platforms as Amazon Web Services.”

“The iOS developer was the only one of my housemates with a university degree from an Ivy. He’d liked the first two years fine, but once he realized he wanted to study computer science, he knew everything else was a waste of time. The kid from Appalachia agreed that there was no longer a point to college. Most of the people at the flophouse had dropped out. “The whole university system,” he said, “is going to be made obsolete because of technology.”

“The faster and more athletically they pivot, iterate, and fail, the less time they waste chasing a dead product and the more time they give themselves to develop something that will find or create a market. But the lean mentality demands necessitate a stoic detachment. After all, if you get too attached to what you’re building, you won’t know when to pivot away from it. What’s important isn’t that you make what you thought you wanted to make or that you really give a shit about the quality of the content at all, but that you learn to build the thing most desired by the biggest market.”

“As the engineer and writer Alex Payne put it, these startups represent “the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions,” doing low-overhead, low-risk R& D for five corporate giants. In such a system, the real disillusionment isn’t the discovery that you’re unlikely to become a billionaire; it’s the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy, and that the vast majority of you have been set up to fail by design.”

Conclusion

The counter point that this book offers to the popular culture Silicon Valley narrative has great value. It’s authored by a disillusioned dreamer on the ground and fighting, which gives this testimony additional gravity. I much prefer this first person perspective to that of a journalist recreating the emotional turbulence that actual entrepreneurs experience in this hectic environment.

We’re all attracted to stories with a happy ending, and there isn’t one here except for this: lesson learned.  There’s a reason why you don’t see people in their 40’s on this grind: the physical and emotional toll that it takes is simply too great.

Amazon link: No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush

Rating:

4 Stars
2018-04-06T13:54:12+00:00Tuesday, July 8th, 2014|