Maybe you thought I was referring to an amusement park roller-coaster, but I’m talking about a newly released book:From Nothing: A Novel of Technology, Bar Music, and Redemption. It’s definitely a roller-coaster ride of a read that will keep your Kindle lit way into the wee hours. The author, Ken Goldstein, is a real Silicon Valley insider and speaks his truth through the hero of the novel, Victor Selo.
Even if Ken’s name doesn’t ring any bells as an author, many of you might have memories of growing up with the Carmen Sandiego and Prince of Persia video game series and franchises. Ken Goldstein is responsible for leading the development of both successful titles.
There’s every reason to believe that From Nothing will engage you from page one to the end, and here are five reasons to make my point…
Reason 1 – You never realized that business in Silicon Valley could be dealt in such a shockingly sordid underworld of corruption.
The HBO series Silicon Valley touches on the cutthroat tactics used in obtaining and maintaining absolute power, control and ownership of a business model, valuable digital assets and code. From Nothing takes you deep into a multilayered world of big tech’s loathsome business side. There are no meek geeks in this area –only greedy CEOs, devious investment bankers, gutless boards of directors and helpless employees. Many of the scenarios and tactics portrayed in the book feel like scenes from an organized crime thriller.
Reason 2 – From the boardroom to the stage, From Nothing is an unpredictable yet redemptive tale of modern rock and roll.
The “soundtrack of our lives” is the notion that this novel was built on. Ken says, “Each of us has a unique soundtrack depending on our years alive, but most of them overlap.”Based on that premise, the story is relatable to anyone.
Victor Selo is a one-time cover band guitarist who rises to executive-level leadership and wealth, then dives to corporate disgrace and returns to his musical roots by becoming a cover band artist again, with remarkably high stakes to survive. The ride that the novel takes you on is like driving on a narrow mountain road, with many twists and blind curves on nearly every page.
IMAGE: KEN GOLDSTEIN
Reason 3 – From Nothing is rich with human insight and introspection.
The novel explores the psyche of the characters, particularly Victor Selo. He has to find the courage to do the right thing (especially when the choices aren’t clear), and deal with the deadly repercussions of his decisions, which leads to deep self-examination. We can relate to Victor’s internal conflicts about spirituality, love and commitment, greed, anger, regret, and living with the consequences of our actions.
Reason 4 – Victor will both break your heart and make you cheer.
Victor rises from adversity many times throughout his life, gaining resilience and strength of character while building layers of(metaphorical) walls around himself to protect the sensitive man and artist inside. He has to make some tough choices: living his life-long dream of rock and roll superstardom or doing the right thing to save his reputation, the company and the people who built it with him. He reflects on love lost and a chance for love again. Victor learns some important lessons about leadership, courage, self-esteem, and humility along the way.
All of these page-turning twists take place against the backdrops of colorful and exciting scenes in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, “Sin City” Las Vegas and New York.
Reason 5 – The author is a Silicon Valley insider.
Ken Goldstein writes like a Silicon Valley insider because he is one. In the 90s, he worked at Brøderbund Software and was in charge of all things related to the Carmen Sandiego franchise of video games. When its rival acquired Brøderbund, Ken moved on to Disney Interactive where, under the mentorship of Michael Eisner, he launched Toontown and the entertainment giant’s other early forays into interactive online entertainment.
In 2006, Ken took the reins as CEO & Chairman of Shop.com, reporting to investors like Bill Gates, Amazon.com, Yahoo and Oak Investment Partners. In 2010, he took the company through a successful acquisition.
Today, Ken Goldstein advises start-ups and established corporations in technology, entertainment, media, and e-commerce. He’s the author behind the eye-opening novel, currently serves as chairman of the board at Thriftbooks Global, the largest seller of used books in North America. He’s also the mastermind behind This is Rage: A Novel of Silicon Valley and Other Madness and board chair at The Good Men Project, a fast-growing digital content community to which he’s a frequent contributor. He has a business blog, CorporateIntel, and frequently speaks on the topics of innovation and creativity.
From Nothing: A Novel of Technology, Bar Music, and Redemption hits the shelves on June 12th, 2018.
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