UCBA Library’s Book of the Month for May

by Christian Boyles

Book Cover
How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story                           HD9696.8.U64 S6343 2018

About the book

The improbable and exhilarating story of the rise of Snapchat from a frat boy fantasy to a multi-billion dollar internet unicorn that has dramatically changed the way we communicate.   In 2013 Evan Spiegel, the brash CEO of the social network Snapchat, and his co-founder Bobby Murphy stunned the press when they walked away from a three-billion-dollar offer from Facebook: how could an app teenagers use to text dirty photos dream of a higher valuation? Was this hubris, or genius?  In How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars, tech journalist Billy Gallagher takes us inside the rise of one of Silicon Valley’s hottest start-ups. Snapchat developed from a simple wish for disappearing pictures as Stanford junior Reggie Brown nursed regrets about photos he had sent. After an epic feud between best friends, Brown lost his stake in the company, while Spiegel has gone on to make a name for himself as a visionary–if ruthless–CEO worth billions, linked to celebrities like Taylor Swift and his wife, Miranda Kerr.  A fellow Stanford undergrad and fraternity brother of the company’s founding trio, Gallagher has covered Snapchat from the start. He brings unique access to a company Bloomberg Business called “a cipher in the Silicon Valley technology community.” Gallagher offers insight into challenges Snapchat faces as it transitions from a playful app to one of the tech industry’s preeminent public companies. In the tradition of great business narratives, How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars offers the definitive account of a company whose goal is no less than to remake the future of entertainment.

Is it checked out? Don’t worry about it. Here are some other titles on the subject.

Brotopia : Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley | HD6060.5.U5 C52 2018

For women in tech, Silicon Valley is not a fantasyland of unicorns, virtual reality rainbows, and 3D-printed lollipops, where millions of dollars grow on trees. It’s a “Brotopia,” where men hold all the cards and make all the rules. Vastly outnumbered, women face toxic workplaces rife with discrimination and sexual harassment, where investors take meetings in hot tubs and network at sex parties.    In this powerful exposé, Bloomberg TV journalist Emily Chang reveals how Silicon Valley got so sexist despite its utopian ideals, why bro culture endures despite decades of companies claiming the moral high ground (Don’t Be Evil! Connect the World!)–and how women are finally starting to speak out and fight back.    Drawing on her deep network of Silicon Valley insiders, Chang opens the boardroom doors of male-dominated venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins, the subject of Ellen Pao’s high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit, and Sequoia, where a partner once famously said they “won’t lower their standards” just to hire women. Silicon Valley’s aggressive, misogynistic, work-at-all costs culture has shut women out of the greatest wealth creation in the history of the world. It’s time to break up the boys’ club. Emily Chang shows us how to fix this toxic culture–to bring down Brotopia, once and for all.

Wild Ride: Inside Uber’s Quest for Global Domination | HE5620.R53 L37 2017

In your pocket is something amazing: a quick and easy way to summon a total stranger who will take you anywhere you’d like. In your hands is something equally amazing: the untold story of Uber’s meteoric rise, and the massive ambitions of its larger-than-life founder and CEO. Before Travis Kalanick became famous as the public face of Uber, he was a scrappy, rough-edged, loose-lipped entrepreneur. And even after taking Uber from the germ of an idea to a $69 billion global transportation behemoth, he still describes his company as a start-up. Like other Silicon Valley icons such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, he’s always focused on the next disruptive innovation and the next world to conquer.  Both Uber and Kalanick have acquired a reputation for being combative, relentless, and iron-fisted against competitors. They’ve inspired both admiration and loathing as they’ve flouted government regulators, thrown the taxi industry into a tailspin, and stirred controversy over possible exploitation of drivers. They’ve even reshaped the deeply ingrained consumer behavior of not accepting a ride from a stranger—against the childhood warnings from everyone’s parents. Uber has made headlines thanks to its eye-popping valuations and swift expansion around the world. But this book is the first account of how Uber really became the giant it is today, and how it plans to conquer the future.

Silicon Valley | Streaming Film

American Experience, TV’s most-watched history series, brings to life the compelling stories from our past that inform our understanding of the world today. The collection includes a number of great episodes from the series, including American Experience SiliconValley. In 1957, decades before Steve Jobs dreamed up Apple or Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, a group of eight brilliant young men defected from the Shockley Semiconductor Company in order to start their own transistor business. Their leader was 29-year-old Robert Noyce, a physicist with a brilliant mind and the affability of a born salesman who would co-invent the microchip — an essential component of nearly all modern electronics today, including computers, motor vehicles, cell phones and household appliances.