Some catalog functionality may not be available on Sunday, November 19th from 2 am to 6 am due to system maintenance. You will be able to access our basic catalog during this period at http://catalog.smpl.org/polaris/.
Author Kidder gives us a window onto the paradoxical world of software engineering and Internet commerce, where genius and artistry often mingle with vulgarity and greed, and where Paul English, for all his success, seems at times almost an innocent. Fortune, mania, genius, philanthropy--the co-founder of the travel website Kayak.com grew up in working-class Boston in the 1970s, a boy who rebelled against authority but discovered a world that called out to his talents the first time he saw a computer. Despite suffering from what would eventually be diagnosed as bipolar disorder, English belongs to what computer scientist Donald Knuth has called the 2 percent: people with a special talent that lay dormant in a fraction of humanity, waiting for its instrument--the computer--to be invented. As a young man possessed by what he calls "the fire," Paul English invents companies, and while not all succeed, he keeps bouncing back, discovering in himself a talent for conceiving innovative enterprises and building teams that can develop them. He becomes, as one observer puts it, "a Pied Piper" of geeks. His optimism, energy, and kindness, his innate sense of fair play, and his native abilities inspire intense loyalty among his followers. Early on, one colleague who leaves a good job to follow him to a start-up remarks, "Someday this boy's going to get hit by a truck full of money, and I'm going to be standing beside him." Yet when English does indeed make a fortune--when Kayak is sold for almost two billion dollars--the first thing he thinks about is how to give the money away. The second thing is, What's next? Kidder casts a fresh, critical, and often humorous eye on the way new money and new ideas--often frivolous and yet vital to virtually every aspect of modern society--are reshaping our culture and the world, and takes us inside the mind of a mesmerizing figure who is unique and yet a representative creature of our entrepreneurial age--bold, big-hearted, and as unpredictable as America itself.--Adapted from dust jacket.