Reading this book will not turn you into a high-tech titan. What it will do is provide you insight into the thoughts and strategies behind some of the most successful executives of our age. The executive tales within are those of some of today’s financial giants. These executives are the titans of modern industry, sprung from the Pacific Northwest and Silicon Valley—much like the factories of Detroit, the financial towers of New York City, and the oilfields of Texas spawned titans of their own kind when those industries ruled American business. Instead of assembly lines and power drills, these high-tech titans manage their businesses in an environment of clean rooms and computer screens filled with code. Today, no one would argue that without these individuals, the economy—as well as our lives—would be very different. So what makes a titan? Well, a titan is someone who has achieved monetary success, for sure, but what else? It should be someone who has also grown a company with remarkable speed in an ever-changing environment rife with cunning competitors. It isn’t just about the company with the fastest chip, the best code, the most powerful marketing, or the best customer service. In many cases, it’s about management: The person behind the logo, the executive who hired the crackerjack programmers, the president who knew the market was about to swing the other way and took a chance on a new and unproven development. Evidencing the volatility of technology markets and the dynamic nature of an ever-changing economic system, Info Space and Go2Net announced a potentially $4 billion merger agreement as we went to press in late July. Both Info Space’s founder, Naveen Jain, and Russell Horowitz, Go2Net’s chief executive, are profiled in this book. In Chapter 12, Horowitz shares his negotiating strategies. The merger proves he is not only savvy enough to cut a beneficial agreement (on the day of the announcement the deal was valued at a 100 percent premium to the market value of his company) but is also aware of the necessity of partnerships in this era of fierce competition, expanding markets, and changing landscapes. Fear of change is an ever-present danger for today’s executives. To be truly successful, they need to do whatever possible to maintain value for their shareholders—even if that means giving up control. There are only 12 chapters in this book. It would be impossible to include every high-tech titan who has influenced the course of business and history in today’s world. The selections I’ve made are based on creating a balance of industry and strategic approach, while being careful not to overlap either too heavily so as to promote a sense of complete coverage in an introduction to the basics. So although this book may be missing Steve Case at America Online, Larry Ellison of Oracle, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, there are some impressive marquis figures within. Some you will know well, and others you may be introduced to for the first time. Either way, each of the subjects in this book represents a lesson you can take with you in your quest for a better business or a new investment opportunity.
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