Meet Barry, a deluded Uber driver, saddled with debt and a wife who hates him.
Convinced he’s a genius, and that Facebook, Tripadvisor – and just about every other internet giant – were all his ideas, he’s determined not to lose out with his latest brainwave by taking it to Silicon Valley himself.
Leaving London with a suitcase full of Non-Disclosure Agreements and a head full of dreams, Barry’s confident he’s done everything possible to protect his idea and make his billions.
He pitches to deal-crazed bankers, greedy funders, geek-techies – and a shop assistant whose partner’s a conman.
All of them want Barry’s idea. All of them want to cut him out.
His one savior could be Mickey Roughton, the world famous movie producer who’s in town to promote his latest blockbuster.
What starts off as a helping-hand turns to disaster when Barry’s idea is broadcast on national TV allowing anyone to steal it – and everyone does. It looks like his unblemished record of disasters remains intact, until slowly the details of his master plan unfold revealing what could be the greatest scam to hit the Valley.
This is a good idea for a book, and having grown up reading the farces of Tom Sharpe, PG Wodehouse and other great English comic writers it is a good tradition to attempt to follow in. Silicon Valley is also ripe for parody, as we have seen with the successful the US TV show about it. There is much to mock and the book attempts to do this. Having an English main character is a logical play to allow the outsider’s view on the startup culture, VCs, you name it. Having seen a lot of similar people of varying degrees of repulsive at the various startup conferences and events around the world it is true that there is a lot of great material for this storyline.
The author has good experience as an investor and entrepreneur to draw on too. However in the final bio on the author he mentions that after a midlife crisis, and subtracting away everything else that he didn’t like, writing was the one thing left that he realised he still liked to do. This is fair enough in many ways, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a good novel when all is said and done. With this book the self hate and loathing of the main character, it’s hero, was on one hand a little to heavily over done, and on the other hand the character still felt pretty thin and you didn’t really know much about him. The vacuousness of the startup-bros was overdone, and no one was very likeable or ultimately even identifiable with.
Down the road the author may nail the right balance and come up with some great books and penetrating, insightful deconstructions of a whole industry that is ready for parody. Personally it just didn’t feel like this book successfully nailed the right balance between satire, insight, and humour. Then again our own in-house teenagers enjoyed it, so maybe it is going down well with another audience?
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