Books by Michael S. Malone

Released: July 7, 2015

"An intriguing counter to the excesses of both individualism and organizations."
An exploration of the importance of teams in human activity. Read full book review >
Released: July 15, 2014

"Essential for aspiring entrepreneurs, to say nothing of those looking for a view of how the modern, speed-of-light world came to be."
Richly detailed, swiftly moving work of modern business history, recounting a truly world-changing technology and the people who made it possible. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 21, 2012

"An original, fascinating scientific history of how human memory and a series of inventions have driven the advance of civilization."
Every living organism possesses a memory, however primitive, but Homo sapiens carried it to a dazzling level, writes technology journalist Malone (The Future Arrived Yesterday: The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You, 2009, etc.) in this ingenious, richly complex account of how humans exchange, record, preserve and manipulate information. Read full book review >
Released: April 13, 1999

A long-winded invective against Steve Jobs, infamous co-founder of the Apple Computer company. Malone relates with glee how Jobs's brilliance, his blindness to the demands of industry, and his charisma together nearly killed the company, which stands today as a small player in the midst of the industry it created. Malone grew up with Jobs and cof-ounder Steve Wozniak, and has covered Apple and Silicon Valley as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among others. He exhibits a techie's obsession with detail, listing the date of every occurrence from minor memos to the yearly MacWorld Expos, where the board of directors almost routinely got fired and reassembled. Malone begins with his own memories of Jobs in highschool, the lonely, brilliant nerd who defied authority and got his way by pure charm. He describes the young Wozniak, an engineering wizard who created a disk drive in time for the biggest computer show in the country, then realized he needed programs to make it work—which he wrote the night before the show. Together, Jobs and Wozniak lifted the personal computer from the domain of techie geeks to the wide world of business and the individual comsumers. But they didn—t create a company. They incited a cult. Where the company went wrong, according to Malone, was in its utter lack of management and foresight. Jobs consistently and contemptuously stymied his colleagues" efforts to instill workable operating systems and consistent product quality. The company inspired serflike loyalty, but Apple had no core. Malone calls the company a Chinese stacking box: when it is unpacked layer by layer, nothing is left. By association, he implies, Jobs was the same: an egomaniacal spin wizard who managed to fool the world into thinking Apple (and he) had direction and credibility, when in fact all it (and he) had was a bunch of ingenious ideas, with no method for integrating them. An exhaustive eulogy to a once-great company that changed the world but fell prey to its own antiestablishment fervor. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

An overstated case for the proposition that our socioeconomic future depends largely upon the emergence of amorphous entities that the authors dub ``virtual corporations.'' By the breathless account of Davidow (Marketing High Technology, 1986) and Malone (Going Public, 1991, etc.), a virtual corporation is a radically restructured, free-form enterprise equipped to deliver immediate consumer gratification in cost- effective fashion. Among other examples of virtual goods and services that are already available, the authors cite camcorders that make instant movies, desktop publishing, and eyeglasses in an hour. Davidow and Malone go on to assess the advanced systems and/or procedures that permit industry to offer such products. Covered as well are organizational issues—most notably, the changing roles played by labor, management, customers, suppliers, and others in an era marked by intense transnational competition. That the most commercial concerns must be adaptive, flexible, and responsive—as well better able to gather, process, and act upon relevant data if they are to survive, much less thrive—seems inarguable. Whether all or even very many of them may be obliged to do so according to the convulsive, scattershot prescriptions of Davidow and Malone, however, will strike even casual observers as a very open question. Moreover, the authors offer few insights that could be accurately described as new. In fact, to create what passes for a coherent synthesis, they simply combine anecdotal commentary on computer-aided design, flexible manufacturing, kaizen (incremental improvement), kanban (just-in-time inventory practices), visionary leadership, and other trendy topics with short, baleful takes on the bad old days when mass production (and merchandising) set the pace. Speculative nonsense, albeit of the slick, state-of-the-art sort for which there is an indisputably durable demand. Read full book review >
Released: June 19, 1991

From Silicone Valley insider Malone (The Big Score, 1985), an exhaustively detailed saga of how an entrepreneurial team of executives and staff won fortunes fighting steep odds to complete an Initial Public Offering of stock for MIPS Computer Co. In 1989, skittish about high-tech stocks since the '87 crash, investors grew excited as rumor foretold that MIPS, about to ``go public,'' might explode into a billion-dollar firm. Offering a vanguard technology called ``reduced instruction computing'' to challenge dominant technologies, MIPS also boasted structural and marketing innovations that propelled it from a kitchen table start- up to a $100-million private company in record time. Malone dramatizes MIPS's campaign to woo the financial community, to contend with SEC rigors, and to withstand the threats that a giant competitor would devastate the firm or that a key supplier or partner would defect. Featuring a cast of characters ranging from the savvy CEO to stalwart engineers to Vietnamese immigrant assembly-line workers, this account tries to merge human interest with business tactics. The result relies too much on unremarkable interviews quoted beyond endurance: on career histories, on the prospectus rewriting process, on global travel. Despite some heroic dimension in the team's dedication and resourcefulness, the pursuit of financial triumph does not seem to merit the unrelenting epic celebration shown here. Yet Malone's portrait of MIPS's unusual business structure and tactics (heavy use of partners to maximize growth) is sure to engage business readers seeking models for the coming decade. An informative and lively, although padded, close-up of what drives entrepreneurs who win the electronics industry poker game that most start-ups lose. Read full book review >