"Remember: The race goes not to the strong, nor swift, nor more intelligent but to the less stupid"

Reviews of In Search of Stupidity:
Over 20 Years of High-Tech
Marketing Disasters


AgylenUgo Cei’s Weblog Reviews the Second Edition of Stupidity

Apart from being a fun and enjoyable read, In Search of Stupidity is also a valuable resource for high-tech entrepreneurs, marketers and geeks wanting to turn their technical prowess into a profit. There’s nothing like learning from the mistakes of others in order to avoid repeating them, and one of the merits of this book is that it does not limit itself to making fun of clueless companies, but extracts and digests from their tales a number of immediately useful advice.

Read the rest of the review here


Ayende Rahien Reviews The Second Edition of Stupidity

I don't generally read the 2nd edition of books that I have already read, and I have read (and enjoyed) the first version of this book very much. I have a pretty good memory and very low tolerance for boredom.

I was very pleased to se that there are a lot of new stuff in the book, and that the stuf that I have read already is still extremely entertaining. I just went back and read my first review of this book, and I still stand behind every word there. It is an hilarious book, and probably something that should be mandatory reading for a lot of people in the tech world.

Read the rest of the review here

Review by Jerry Pournelle of Byte.com

The book of the month is Merrill R. Chapman, In Search of Stupidity, a history of our industry with the subtitle "Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters " (A! Apress, 2003; ISBN 1590591046). I know many of the stories he tells, and he has most of them right. He leaves out details: The first review of Wayne Ratliff's Vulcan—which became dBase 2—was mine in BYTE, and that review caused George Tate to buy Vulcan and rename it. He's got the story right though, how Ashton-Tate (Ashton was George Tate's parrot) became one of the giants, up there with Microsoft at the time; and how after George died suddenly, Ed Esber, his successor, managed to run the company into the ground by alienating all the developers and being jealous of any profits other than his own. There are plenty of lessons in here for the future.

Review by Alex Moskalyuk of Slashdot.org

In the introduction chapter Chapman provides a great overview of what to expect in the book. His style is lively, full of analogies and old tales. The book is marked by a good sense of humor, without actually going into jokes (except for occasional re-telling of Intel Pentium FPU-related humor). All the companies who were not big enough to deserve a separate chapter but still stupid enough to be in the book are mentioned in introduction. Street Technologies, who in an advertising brochure bravely claimed the owner of its software could "eliminate half of the work force," and whose literature probably never made it through the mail room. Syncronys, who sold the SoftRAM product, which promised to "double your computer memory," except for the fact it didn't actually do it. Project Iridium from Motorola, which burned through $5 billion before figuring out that market for thousand-dollar phones and hundred-dollar service charges was a bit limited.

Review by Gordon Graham for Impact!,
the STC’s Marketing Communication’s SIG

This book is a gem. From start to finish, its irreverent tone and right-on analysis made it impossible for me to put down. I’d say that In Search of Stupidity is simply the best book of the year for anyone in high-tech marketing.

With a style that’s been described as "National Lampoon meets Peter Drucker" veteran software marketer Rick Chapman chronicles the entire history of the PC industry, from Altair to Xerox. With lots of juicy anecdotes and witty commentary, it's a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Read the rest of the review at http://www.gordonandgordon.com/book_review_stupidity.html

Review by Application Development

Finally, moving on to something very different, In Search of Stupidity is a must-read for anybody involved in IT. A deliberate riposte to Tom Peters’ hugely influential, but deeply flawed, In Search of Excellence, Merrill Chapman takes us on a romp through over 20-years of high-tech marketing disasters. It’s a joy to read.

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Review by Database Trends and Applications

...Published by Apress (Apress.com), with a cover price of $24.95, this book provides a good chuckle and rueful vindication for those techie types who think marketing types are morons. And for those of you who are responsible for trying to get your company's technology into the right hands, I recommend putting down your copy of In Search of Excellence and purchasing a copy of In Search of Stupidity . Read it as a manual for what not to do when creating the next “new” thing.

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Review by Richard Brown, VP of VIA

I have just finished reading In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters, which was kindly given to a me as birthday present, and I'd heartily recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about the history of our glorious industry. Not only is the author, Rick Chapman, extremely funny in the way he recounts the numerous fiascos that have occured in this business over the past two decades, but, having worked for a number of software companies himself in a variety of high-level product marketing positions, he is also very knowledgeable about the industry and its inner workings.

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Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Review

In Search of Stupidity is an amusing reply to the serious tone of the late-80s bestseller by Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies, which praised organizations such as Wang, IBM, Atari, Data General, and others. More than twenty years later it is clear that not all of them have fared very well. Chapman—a marketing specialist—uses a lively and accessible style to describe many examples of high-tech blunders.

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Review from Will Iverson of the 280Group

This book does an admirable job of explaining, informing and entertaining. If it manages to save you from a single product- or company-killing mistake, it's more than worth the $17.49 Amazon.com currently charges."

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Review from the About.com Entrepreneur’s Forum

While other books on this list will do their best to tell you what TO do, this book is full of great examples of what NOT to do in high-tech marketing.

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Review by Brian Livingston,
Author of Windows 2000 Secrets

In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters

What was it, exactly, that befell Lotus? Novell? Borland? What makes companies that were high-flying market leaders one day suddenly become less-than-stellar the next? Merrill Chapman puts the answers together, to sometimes hilarious effect, in his new book, In Search of Stupidity. You can learn something here almost no matter what your business does. (The subjects of the book could have been selling pizzas, for all it matters.) But the afterword on the role of software development will be particularly interesting to Windows professionals.


Review by Rob Enderle in Ecommerce Times

To net it out, companies like Novell and Ashton Tate made incredibly stupid mistakes and, while Microsoft wasn't perfect, the company's mistakes (up until the last DOJ trial) were simply not that bad or were quickly corrected. The book is an easy and entertaining read, and I recommend it highly, particularly because I'm seeing a repetition of some of the same avoidable mistakes today.

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Review from CRM Industry

In Search of Stupidity is a funny and well written business book that takes a look at some of the most influential marketing and business philosophies of the last twenty years and, through the dark glass of hindsight, provides a educational and vastly entertaining examination of why they didn't work. And make no mistake, most of them did not work. Filled with personal anecdotes spanning Merrill Chapman's remarkable career (he was present at many now famous meetings and events), this book takes a no-holds-barred look at the uncreative and hopeless marketing ideas surrounding the technology industry. It offers clear, detailed analysis of what happened, why, and what you can do to avoid acting stupidly in the future.


Review from the About Visual Basic Forum

Are you a casualty of the Dot Com Explosion?

Is there a permanent dent in the bathroom wall where you bang your head after listening to management briefings?

Is Dilbert like a drug for you because it seems like it's all about your life?

If you're suffering from Post Technology Stress Syndrome and you need to know that somebody else has been there and understands ...we got your fix right here!

The great technology publisher Apress has taken a flyer on a new book that's not really a technology book, but is a great read for anybody who lived through the incredible events of the computer revolution! It should also be a lesson for anybody who didn't. Don't be stupid! Read this book!

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Review from Linux Journal

In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters is a time-travel trip through two decades of technology plagued by stupidity. Both new and old high-tech flops are present, most already forgotten. The dot-com chapter should be read now while it still hurts, but some unknown jewels are here too.

Read the rest of the review at http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=7095

Review from the JavaRanch Big Moose Salon

It's great reading. Chapman is merciless, entertaining and yeah, really merciless. Aside from kicking several high-tech losers after the fact, which is fun, he shows how high-tech's own foibles create (when it could prevent) its own sufferings.

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Review from Corporate Report Wisconsin

Chapman’s book is both an irreverent history lesson and a modern-day retelling of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It may not contain any grand solutions to the problems that crushed many high-tech companies of the past two decades, but it succeeds as a witty cautionary tale.

Read the rest of the review at http://www.crwmag.com/CRW/Books/2003/Dec03.html

Review from Mark Rittman's Oracle Weblog

...it's an excellent read, a great look at the software companies we grew up with but somehow aren't here anymore, thoroughly recommended and well worth putting in your suitcase and taking on holiday.”

Read the rest of the review at http://www.rittman.net/archives/000947.html

Review by Denis Joseph of the Simon Young Website

Rick Chapman’s In Search of Stupidity is a fascinating thriller of billion dollar bungling, of loud-mouthed egos, death-wish rituals and the constant slug-fest between the suits and the geeks. Written in an easy, chatty style without the IT gobbledegook, Chapman’s book is like everyman’s journey—in search of the Tech Grail along an information highway littered with dinosaurs, demons, self-destruct advertising and well... tombstones. The stories are sprinkled with nuggets of stupidity, such as Intel’s Inside stories, Motorola’s Digital DNA, the big mouth of Netscape’s Andreessen; frictionless e-commerce, and other Venture Cap blowouts during the Lotos-eating days of the dotcoms.

(The chapter on the Internet and the ASP busts is aptly titled Purple Haze All Through My Brain!)

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Review from Materials Today Magazine

In Search of Stupidity presents an entertaining analysis of business failures by high-tech giants, such as IBM and Microsoft...

Read the rest of the review at http://www.materialstoday.com/pdfs_7_4/books.pdf

Steve Hebert's Development Blog

How do you say you loved a book titled “in search of stupidity” and maintain any sense of self-respect? I decided the answer to that question was including the subtitle in parenthesis.

Read the rest of the review at http://dotnetjunkies.com/WebLog/sdhebert/archive/2004/10/20/29257.aspx

Review on Hacknot

I couldn't walk past a book with a title like this. As required by engineering tradition, I have a deep and abiding hatred for marketers and all things associated therewith. I bought the book in the hope that it would give me the chance to gloat over the failures of these parasites, and I was not disappointed.

Read the rest of the review at http://www.hacknot.info/hacknot/action/showEntry?eid=58

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