Archive for biography

THE BRIXTON ACADEMY By Simon Parkes with J S Fafaeli – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2018 by stanleyriiks

When Parkes persuades a brewery to sell him the lease to a virtually derelict former-cinema in Brixton for a pound, all he has is his vision and a love of live music…

Despite run-ins with gangsters, music biz legends, threats, thefts, drugs, Parkes manages to create a one of the best music venues in London. From the early days with The Clash and The Smiths, to the nineties raves and then Britpop, Parkes witnessed it all as it came through his venue.

I myself have witnessed some musical magic on that stage, although after Parkes’ departure.

This is a story of the London music scene, the cultural melting pot that is Brixton, and Parkes’ triumphs and survivals through this insane world.

Interesting, entertaining, but perhaps a little simplified and watered-down, this is still a great insight into life on the London Music scene from one of the men who created it.

Advertisements

ONE CLICK: Jeff Bezos and the rise of amazon.com By Richard L. Brandt – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by stanleyriiks

I buy 99.9% of my books through amazon, and have done for many years. Most of my friends and family use amazon for most of their book purchases. It’s amazing to think that such a huge and pervasive company is less than twenty years old.

This short book charts the history of amazon and its founded Jeff Bezos, from his work for a hedge-fund in New York to his starting the company with two programmers in a house in Seattle, and his determination and optimism that his company would be the biggest in the world by doing one simple thing: giving the customers a good service.

At two hundred pages the book doesn’t have room to go into a mass of detail, it charts the company’s rapid rise amid the dot-com bubble, its brief profit to appease investors and its massive investments in future growth and expansion which see profits shrink every year, despite vast sales. Investors in amazon have had a rough time, despite it being the biggest online retailer in the world.

Brandt doesn’t offer much insight, and a Bloomberg Game Changers Special gives you almost as much information, but the book is interesting. Brandt’s crisp journalistic style makes for easy reading, but as the Kindle and ebooks begin to revolutionise the publishing industry, amazon’s major competitor’s in books fall by the wayside, and as the company continues to plough new fields, you can’t help but think the story is far from over.

An interesting book, but without the personal insight into Bezos or the financial and business management insight into the company.

STEVE JOBS By Walter Isaacson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Fans of Steve Jobs are likely to find much of this book uncompromising and possibly offensive, in its no-holds-barred look at the visionary behind Apple.

Despite Jobs’ obvious skills it appears he founded Apple on the back of the other Steve’s (Wosniak) invention of the Apple computer. Sure, Jobs had a hand in the design, and his powerful personality brought the commercial success of this and many later products, but he wasn’t the brain behind it, more the brain behind the brain.

Indeed as you read further Jobs becomes the powerhouse, the businessman and CEO of Pixar and again of Apple and his unrelenting determination to drive his staff to produce the best possible products is what makes Apple great.

The book follows Jobs rise and fall at Apple, his ten years in the wasteland of NEXT and the beginnings of Pixar. It doesn’t give much insight into how he developed his businesses, and it’s quite harsh on Jobs’ uncompromising nature. A nature that, when he was brought back to Apple and eventually took over, helped to create the world’s largest company (by market cap, positions have changed once again since the book was published).

Jobs comes off as a man of contradictions, a Buddhist interested in products, a foul-smelling, mean and uncompromising brat. A man who either loved or hated you, thought you were a genius or an idiot, and had little patience. A salesman, a visionary with the ability to see what people want before they know what it is they want. A control freak determined to perfect every single detail.

But his fierce determination to control everything is what lost him the company he built, it’s also what brought us products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Jobs’ successful return to Apple is where the book excel, although I would have liked even more detail. I remember the advertising campaigns from the 1984 one through to those of the dancing silhouette for the iPod and the new iPad adverts, I remember Adobe refusing to write software for the Macs and the original iMac which revolutionised PC design.

Jobs might not have been a particularly nice man, and from the book it doesn’t seem he mellowed much, despite his bouts of cancer and near death experiences, but he was an intelligent man who creates masterpieces of simplicity and genius design that makes Apple one of the most profitable, and now largest, computer manufacturers in the world. Jobs will be pleased that his legacy in Apple is a strong company, but where will they go without their glorious leader? Only time will time. Sadly for Steve, and for us, his time ended too soon.