Reads on “Big Tech”

FAANG is an acronym that refers to the five prominent American technology companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google. The term was coined by Jim Cramer, the television host of CNBC’s Mad Money in 2013, calling these companies “totally dominant in their markets. “

The large majority of us spend a great deal of our everyday lives enmeshed in the ecosystem created by these corporate behemoths.  In the course of the pandemic these companies have come to dominate our lives even more as a huge majority of us found their array of services and products indispensable, whether for work, study, entertainment, staying in touch with friends and family, and for ecommerce.  

As the world has gone almost entirely online for working, schooling, and even socializing, these tech giants have seen significant gains. They will also benefit from new 

consumer habits initiated during the lockdowns, that analysts believe will turn into long term shifts in how people work, shop, communicate and entertain themselves.

Here are some books that will help you discover or revisit the history, inner workings and philosophies of these companies (and of their visionary  founders), all available with your Livingston Library card.

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

This rich, compelling narrative is filled with stories never told before from the people who knew Jobs best, and who decided to open up to the authors, including his family, former inner circle executives, and top people at Apple, Pixar and Disney.  The authors make clear that Jobs’s astounding success at Apple was far more complicated than simply picking the right products: he became more patient, he learned to trust his inner circle, and discovered the importance of growing the company incrementally rather than only shooting for dazzling game-changing products

Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda

Kocienda offers an inside look at Apple’s creative process. For fifteen years, he was on the ground floor of the company as a specialist, directly responsible for experimenting with novel user interface concepts and writing powerful, easy-to-use software for products including the iPhone, the iPad, and the Safari web browser. His stories explain the symbiotic relationship between software and product development for those who have never dreamed of programming a computer, and reveal what it was like to work on the cutting edge of technology at one of the world’s most admired companies.

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

Stone enjoyed unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members, giving readers the first in-depth, fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon. Amazon.com started off delivering books through the mail. But its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn’t content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices.  But he stands out for his restless pursuit of new markets, leading Amazon into risky new ventures like the Kindle and cloud computing, and transforming retail in the same way Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing.

Facebook: The Inside Story by Steven Levy

There is no denying the power and omnipresence of Facebook in American daily life. And in light of recent controversies surrounding election-influencing ‘fake news’ accounts, the handling of its users’ personal data, and growing discontent with the actions of its founder and CEO, never has the company been more central to the national conversation.  Based on years of exclusive reporting and interviews with Facebook’s key executives and employees, including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Levy’s sweeping narrative digs deep into the whole story of the company that has changed the world and reaped the consequences.

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick

How did a nineteen-year-old Harvard student create a company that has transformed the Internet and how did he grow it to its current enormous size? Kirkpatrick shows how Zuckerberg steadfastly refused to compromise his vision, insistently focusing on growth over profits and preaching that Facebook must dominate (his word) communication on the Internet. In the process, he and a small group of key executives have created a company that has changed social life in the United States and elsewhere, a company that has become a ubiquitous presence in marketing, altering politics, business, and even our sense of our own identity. He chronicles its successes and missteps, and gives readers the most complete assessment anywhere of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the central figure in the company’s remarkable ascent.

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway

In the same irreverent style that has made him one of the world’s most celebrated business professors, Galloway deconstructs the strategies of the Four that lurk beneath their shiny veneers. He shows how they manipulate the fundamental emotional needs that have driven us since our ancestors lived in caves, at a speed and scope others can’t match. And he reveals how you can apply the lessons of their ascent to your own business or career.

How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

Seasoned Google executives Schmidt and Rosenberg provide an insider’s guide to Google, from its business history and disruptive corporate strategy to developing a new management philosophy and creating a corporate culture where innovation and creativity thrive.

 

I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards

Edwards, Google’s first director of marketing and brand management, describes it as it happened. We see the first, pioneering steps of LarryPage and Sergey Brin, the company’s young, idiosyncratic partners; the evolution of the company’s famously nonhierarchical structure (where every employee finds a problem to tackle or a feature to create and works independently); the development of brand identity; the races to develop and implement each new feature; and the many ideas that never came to pass. Above all, Edwards–a former journalist who knows how to write–captures the “Google Experience,” the rollercoaster ride of being part of a company creating itself in a whole new universe. 

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

Veteran technology reporter Levy was granted unprecedented access to the company, and in this revelatory book he takes readers inside Google headquarters–the Googleplex–to show how Google works. The key to Google’s success in all these businesses, Levy reveals, is its engineering mind-set and adoption of such Internet values as speed, openness, experimentation, and risk taking. After its unapologetically elitist approach to hiring, Google pampers its engineers–free food and dry cleaning, on-site doctors and masseuses–and gives them all the resources they need to succeed.

Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired-and Secretive-Company Really Works by Adam Lashinsky

In this primer on leadership and innovation, Lashinsky introduces readers to concepts like the “DRI” (Apple’s practice of assigning a Directly Responsible Individual to every task) and the Top 100 (an annual ritual in which 100 up-and-coming executives are tapped a la Skull & Bones for a secret retreat with company founder Steve Jobs). The secret systems, tactics and leadership strategies that allowed Steve Jobs and his company to churn out hit after hit and inspire a cult-like following for its products are revealed.

Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos

A collection of writings by the founder and CEO of Amazon includes a selection of Bezos’s unusual annual shareholder letters, speeches, and interviews that offer insight into his background, his professional approaches, and the evolutions of his ideas.

 

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

Hastings and Meyer, dive deep into the controversial philosophies at the heart of the Netflix psyche, which have generated results that are the envy of the business world. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with current and past Netflix employees from around the globe and never-before-told stories of trial and error from his own career, this is the full, fascinating, and untold story of a unique company making its mark on the world.

The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant

Describes how the inception of the iPhone has transformed society and skyrocketed Apple to the most valuable company in the world, detailing how the most current technological advances have become inseparable to everyday life.

 

That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea by Marc Randolph

The story of how Netflix went from concept to company – all revealed by co-founder and first CEO Marc Randolph.

 

 

Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level by Leander Kaheny

Journalist Leander Kahney reveals how CEO Tim Cook has led Apple to astronomical success after the death of Steve Jobs in 2011.  Under Cook’s principled leadership, Apple is pushing hard into renewable energy, labor and environmentally-friendly supply chains, user privacy, and highly-recyclable products. From the massive growth of the iPhone to lesser-known victories like the Apple Watch, Cook is leading Apple to a new era of success. 

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.