Tag: Corporate Culture, Elites and Their Self-Understandings

I’ve written a few times recently – here, here and here – about the notion of business for punks propounded by the founder of BrewDog. This extract from loc 89 of The Hard Thing About Hard Things conveys something similar in terms of hip hop: I’ve also been inspired by many friends, advisers, and family members who have helped me […]

A bit later in Battle of the Titans, Fred Vogelstein transcribes a talk he saw Eric Schmidt give at a technology conference. From loc 1904-1918: We have a product that allows 82 you to speak to your phone in English and have it come out in the native language of the person you are talking to. […]

From Battle of the Titans loc 1846: Anyone who has ever worked for Schmidt will tell you that he is one of the toughest, most competitive executives walking. Ask Rubin what it was like to be on the receiving end of a few “Don’t fuck it up” lectures from Schmidt. “Not fun,” Rubin says. But […]

From Battle of the Titans loc 1056: From his office on the second floor of IL 2 on Apple’s campus, Forstall started pulling in some of the best engineers from around the company, creating lockdown areas all over the building as he went. “If you were working weekends, you’d see the construction crews come in […]

In the last week, I’ve been exploring the notion of ‘business for punks’, the philosophy propounded by the founder of BrewDog, as the formulation of an increasingly dominant ethos in which ‘disruptive’ corporate activity is valorised as anti-authoritarian. I’ve been thinking about this mostly from the top-down, as a characteristic of founders and CEOs, but […]

From Battle of the Titans loc 543. I’m intruiged by non-disclosure of non-disclosure agreements: why stop there? Surely this could be grounds for an infinite loop? More seriously, I wonder how this effects the framing of the proposition to potential staff: is there a performative element to this in order to convey the importance of […]

I wrote last week about the notion of ‘business for punks’ propounded by the founder of BrewDog. This little snippet from Battle of the Titans reflects a similar ethos. Is Silicon Valley full of people who understand themselves as ‘doing business for punks’: is this the ethos underlying a commitment to ‘disruption’? From loc 333: Jobs […]

A weird little snippet I came across from Marissa Mayer, former Google high-flyer and now head of Yahoo, on how to avoid burnout by “empowering” yourself to “work really hard for a long period of time”. Find one thing you absolutely refuse to miss then completely subordinate the rest of your life to your work, safe […]

Even though I believe the concepts of ‘innovation’ and ‘disruption’ refer to sociologically significant phenomena, I cringe slightly whenever I hear someone use the terms. Particularly in the case of the latter, a whole theory of social change at the meso level is implicit within it: it’s deeply ideological and we need to unpack it, rather […]

As you may know, executive coaching is an increasingly common phenomenon, particularly in some sectors like tech. This is how Eric Schmidt and his co-author describe the necessity of it in How Google Works loc 2440: Whenever you watch a world-class athlete perform, you can be sure that there is a great coach behind her success. […]

From Peter Thiel’s Less Than Zero loc 1912: Apple’s value crucially depended on the singular vision of a particular person. This hints at the strange way in which the companies that create new technology often resemble feudal monarchies rather than organizations that are supposedly more “modern.” A unique founder can make authoritative decisions, inspire strong […]

From Peter Thiel’s Less Than Zero loc 1662-1670. Does informality thrive in tech capitalism because entrepreneurs are terrified of pissing off VC’s who think like this? At Founders Fund, we saw this coming. The most obvious clue was sartorial: cleantech executives were running around wearing suits and ties. This was a huge red flag, because […]

From Peter Thiel’s Less Than Zero loc 1279: Max Levchin, my co-founder at PayPal, says that startups should make their early staff as personally similar as possible. Startups have limited resources and small teams. They must work quickly and efficiently in order to survive, and that’s easier to do when everyone shares an understanding of […]

Peter Thiel describing how the ‘PayPal Mafia’ came about in his Less Than Zero, loc 1238-1251: The first team that I built has become known in Silicon Valley as the “PayPal Mafia” because so many of my former colleagues have gone on to help each other start and invest in successful tech companies. We sold […]

How Google Works is a fascinating book co-authored by Eric Schmidt in which he details, unsurprisingly, how Google works. In the section I just read, he describes how Google sets out to ensure that they only hire A’s, as detailed in loc 1413: A workforce of great people not only does great work, it attracts […]

There’s an interesting section of In The Plex which details quite how much Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer hated Google. From pg 282-283: Just how intensely Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, despised his competitor to the south became clear in depositions that would be filed in the Lee lawsuit. The year before, in November 2004, a top Microsoft […]

Acceleration theory can too easily slide into seeing speed as a function of technological innovation. The susprisingly excellent In The Plex offers a nice counterpoint to this, identifying the sheer amount of effort involved throughout an organisation in order to increase speed across a diverse range of products. From pg 186: In 2008, Google issued […]

I was interested to learn that Netflix has a seemingly enlightened approach to the working and holiday patterns of their employees: Since 2004, Netflix employees have taken as many vacation days as they’ve wanted. They have the freedom to decide when to show up for work, when to take time off, and how much time it will […]