Tech journey as told by 5 authors

Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba. file photo | nmg
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba. file photo | nmg 

It is a fast world, thanks to information technology and other innovations. Sometimes it may be difficult to chronicle what is happening and get it right.

However, these five books are among a growing body of literature telling the recent history of the tech world.  One of them, Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable, builds on the present and the past to peer into the future.

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, by Antonio Garcia.

The opening pages of Antonio Garcia’s book describe Facebook’s headquarters in architectural and metaphorical detail — the L-shaped building; the exposed ducts in the ceiling; and the near-literal “throne-room” where founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg “held court all day”.

In this HQ, real estate and its positioning was indicative of power. Sheryl Sandberg sat close to “Zuck” and the ad team, of which our author was a member of, was once kept at arm’s length “as if it was a pair of sweaty underwear”.

Garcia doesn’t hold back on the darker details in this 2016 book knowing that he might never “eat free lunch” again in Silicon Valley with the publication of the book.

The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the world by Brad stone.

You don’t need to read the title of this book to know that the companies that define the sharing economy are changing the way we live our everyday lives.

Brad Stone, who also authored The Everything Store, opens the book with the Obama inauguration in 2008. It was a time for new beginnings, politically, and it seems, technologically.

On that day, both the founders of Airbnb and Uber were in Washington DC, struggling through the cold and still conceptualising their businesses.
Stone traces this journey, writing a complex story that explores the successes and mistakes these companies made.

Alibaba: the House that Jack Ma Built, by Duncan Clark.

Kenyans could barely get enough of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma when he visited earlier this year. If you want the detailed inside story of how this one man rose from an humble teacher to build a business that rivals Western giants of economy, then this 2016 biography is a good attempt.

The author first met Alibaba founder nearly 20 years ago. He became a trusted adviser and friend’ he was granted exclusive, unprecedented access for this book.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance.

This biography explores what drives one of tech world’s biggest thinkers. Elon Musk is the chief executive of Spacex, Tesla Inc, and co-founder of SolarCity.

So how does this man who wants to change the way we drive, use up energy and how we think of space travel (all the while raising five children) do it all? Veteran journalist Ashlee Vance gained unprecedented access to Musk and his family for this 2015 book.

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that will Shape our Future by Kevin Kelly.

In this 2016 book Kevin Kelley looks to the trends that will shape the next three decades of tech and how these will affect daily living. These trends are already in motion. Kelly, a founding editor of Wired magazine, is optimistic about the future that will emerge from Artificial Intelligence.