Book Notes: Only The Paranoid Survive

April 07, 2023 [books] #management #book-notes


Andy Grove really doesn't grok bullshit. Unlike other business books, this one is short and to the point. His central thesis is that business and industries undergo strategic inflection points, changes that transform the landscape and destroy the old gods unless they adapt. The preferred phrase now to refer to such changes is disruption. Grove then proceeds to examine the computer industry from within that framework, and one outside, that of Walmart. Disruption, 10x changes, strategic inflection points and such are common wisdom now. While one cannot read this book with the eyes of a beginner, it has aged well1. This is especially true when he applies similar lens to individual career, a theme he has visited in his other books. This attitude, that one is responsible for one's career and one must constantly prepare for the next job, like an athlete does for his race, is really the central philosophy of leetcoders and blinders. The title is particularly relevant this year. In an age of mass layoffs in the tech industry, it is as good a personal motto as any.

It's ironic that Intel after Grove missed the strategic inflection points that have hollowed it out considerably: pure play foundries like TSMC and mobile devices. Organizational paranoia, it seems, needs a strong man at the top to sustain.




Although I should note that one major company is still quite vertically integrated, just differently than in the 80s and the 90s. Horizontal integration hasn't eaten it's lunch at all, and in fact has led to pretty subpar competitive products. This company continues to do pretty well for itself.

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