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Chaos Monkeys

Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

By Antonio Garcia Martinez
13-minute read
Audio available
Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez

Chaos Monkeys (2016) offers a revealing peek at the deceitful schemes and billion-dollar dreams that drive start-ups in Silicon Valley. Take a tour of companies like Google and Facebook, and find out what it takes to be successful as well as what goes on backstage at some of the world’s most dominant start-ups.

  • Entrepreneurs thinking about launching a start-up
  • Tech workers curious about Silicon Valley
  • Readers looking for a behind-the-scenes-peek at billion-dollar businesses

Antonio Garcia Martinez worked on Wall Street as a trader for Goldman Sachs before starting his own company, AdGrok, and then becoming a manager on the Facebook Ads team. He lives on a sailboat near San Francisco.

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Chaos Monkeys

Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

By Antonio Garcia Martinez
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez
Synopsis

Chaos Monkeys (2016) offers a revealing peek at the deceitful schemes and billion-dollar dreams that drive start-ups in Silicon Valley. Take a tour of companies like Google and Facebook, and find out what it takes to be successful as well as what goes on backstage at some of the world’s most dominant start-ups.

Key idea 1 of 8

Immigration to Silicon Valley is so tough that immigrants sometimes resort to fake marriages.

When Europeans were trying to reach America in the eighteenth century, many paid for their passage by submitting to several years of indentured servitude. While tech geeks seeking work in twenty-first century America don’t have it quite that bad, they still face a pretty rough deal.

Being allowed to work in Silicon Valley isn’t easy for an immigrant, and the process often leads to exploitation.

One solution is to obtain an H-1B visa: a nonimmigrant visa for foreign workers. However, only a limited number of these are available. In 2013, 200,000 foreign workers hoping for employment in Silicon Valley applied for an H-1B visa, but only 16,000 were approved.

And the ones lucky enough to be approved are then totally at the mercy of their boss.

If they’re fired or the company shuts down, their visa is no longer valid, a state of insecurity that often results in their feeling forced to accept a smaller salary than their American colleagues.

As a result, the corporations are the big winners. They get highly skilled employees who will work for less, and these employees have to endure five years of this exploitation before they can apply for a green card, which gives them better rights and permanent-residence status.

It’s no surprise that immigrants want to avoid all this. And the easiest way to do that is with a fake marriage.

The US immigration system is friendlier with those who are trying to start a family. In fact, immediate-relative or family-preference visas account for two thirds of all successful immigration applicants.

Surprisingly, for this method to work, you don’t even have to marry an American citizen.

Stanis Argyris is a Greek computer specialist who wanted to join the author’s start-up team in 2008. So Argyris married a Turkish woman who, under a student visa, was studying at Stanford University. Now Argyris could obtain a student-spouse visa, stay in the country and finally work at the author’s company.

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