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About Jimmy Soni
Jimmy Soni is an award-winning author. His last book, A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age, won the 2017 Neumann Prize, awarded by the British Society for the History of Mathematics for the best book on the history of mathematics for a general audience, and the Middleton Prize by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). His most recent work, Jane’s Carousel, completed with the late Jane Walentas, captured one woman’s remarkable twenty-five-year journey to restore a beloved carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his daughter, Venice.
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Books By Jimmy Soni
“A gripping account of PayPal’s origins and a vivid portrait of the geeks and contrarians who made its meteoric rise possible” (The Wall Street Journal)—including Elon Musk, Amy Rowe Klement, Peter Thiel, Julie Anderson, Max Levchin, Reid Hoffman, and many others whose stories have never been shared.
Today, PayPal’s founders and earliest employees are considered the technology industry’s most powerful network. Since leaving PayPal, they have formed, funded, and advised the leading companies of our era, including Tesla, Facebook, YouTube, SpaceX, Yelp, Palantir, and LinkedIn, among many others. As a group, they have driven twenty-first-century innovation and entrepreneurship. Their names stir passions; they’re as controversial as they are admired.
Yet for all their influence, the story of where they first started has gone largely untold. Before igniting the commercial space race or jumpstarting social media’s rise, they were the unknown creators of a scrappy online payments start-up called PayPal. In building what became one of the world’s foremost companies, they faced bruising competition, internal strife, the emergence of widespread online fraud, and the devastating dot-com bust of the 2000s. Their success was anything but certain.
In The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley, award-winning author and biographer Jimmy Soni explores PayPal’s turbulent early days. With hundreds of interviews and unprecedented access to thousands of pages of internal material, he shows how the seeds of so much of what shapes our world today—fast-scaling digital start-ups, cashless currency concepts, mobile money transfer—were planted two decades ago. He also reveals the stories of countless individuals who were left out of the front-page features and banner headlines but who were central to PayPal’s success.
Described as “an intensely magnetic chronicle” (The New York Times) and “engrossing” (Business Insider), The Founders is a story of iteration and inventiveness—the products of which have cast a long and powerful shadow over modern life. This narrative illustrates how this rare assemblage of talent came to work together and how their collaboration changed our world forever.
"We owe Claude Shannon a lot, and Soni & Goodman’s book takes a big first step in paying that debt." —San Francisco Review of Books
"Soni and Goodman are at their best when they invoke the wonder an idea can instill. They summon the right level of awe while stopping short of hyperbole." —Financial Times
"Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman make a convincing case for their subtitle while reminding us that Shannon never made this claim himself." —The Wall Street Journal
“A charming account of one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished scientists…Readers will enjoy this portrait of a modern-day Da Vinci.” —Fortune
In their second collaboration, biographers Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman present the story of Claude Shannon—one of the foremost intellects of the twentieth century and the architect of the Information Age, whose insights stand behind every computer built, email sent, video streamed, and webpage loaded. Claude Shannon was a groundbreaking polymath, a brilliant tinkerer, and a digital pioneer. He constructed the first wearable computer, outfoxed Vegas casinos, and built juggling robots. He also wrote the seminal text of the digital revolution, which has been called “the Magna Carta of the Information Age.” In this elegantly written, exhaustively researched biography, Soni and Goodman reveal Claude Shannon’s full story for the first time. With unique access to Shannon’s family and friends, A Mind at Play brings this singular innovator and always playful genius to life.
"Cato, history's most famous foe of authoritarian power, was the pivotal political man of Rome; an inspiration to our Founding Fathers; and a cautionary figure for our times. He loved Roman republicanism, but saw himself as too principled for the mere politics that might have saved it. His life and lessons are urgently relevant in the harshly divided America—and world—of today. With erudition and verve, Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni turn their life of Cato into the most modern of biographies, a blend of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Game Change."—Howard Fineman, Editorial Director of The Huffington Post Media Group, NBC and MSNBC News Analyst, and New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteen American Arguments
"A truly outstanding piece of work. What most impresses me is the book's ability to reach through the confusing dynastic politics of the late Roman Republic to present social realities in a way intelligible to the modern reader. Rome's Last Citizen entertainingly restores to life the stoic Roman who inspired George Washington, Patrick Henry and Nathan Hale. This is more than a biography: it is a study of how a reputation lasted through the centuries from the end of one republic to the start of another."—David Frum, DailyBeast columnist, former White House speech writer, and New York Times bestselling author of The Right Man
Marcus Porcius Cato: aristocrat who walked barefoot and slept on the ground with his troops, political heavyweight who cultivated the image of a Stoic philosopher, a hardnosed defender of tradition who presented himself as a man out of the sacred Roman past—and the last man standing when Rome's Republic fell to tyranny. His blood feud with Caesar began in the chamber of the Senate, played out on the battlefields of a world war, and ended when he took his own life rather than live under a dictator.
Centuries of thinkers, writers, and artists have drawn inspiration from Cato's Stoic courage. Saint Augustine and the early Christians were moved and challenged by his example. Dante, in his Divine Comedy, chose Cato to preside over the souls who arrive in Purgatory. George Washington so revered him that he staged a play on Cato's life to revive the spirit of his troops at Valley Forge. Now, in Rome's Last Citizen, Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni deliver the first modern biography of this stirring figure.
Cato's life is a gripping tale that resonates deeply with our own turbulent times. He grappled with terrorists, a debt crisis, endemic political corruption, and a huge gulf between the elites and those they governed. In many ways, Cato was the ultimate man of principle—he even chose suicide rather than be used by Caesar as a political pawn. But Cato was also a political failure: his stubbornness sealed his and Rome's defeat, and his lonely end casts a shadow on the recurring hope that a singular leader can transcend the dirty business of politics.
Rome's Last Citizen is a timeless story of an uncompromising man in a time of crisis and his lifelong battle to save the Republic.
In diesem Buch erkundet der preisgekrönte Autor und Biograf Jimmy Soni die turbulenten Anfangstage von PayPal. Mit Hunderten von Interviews und beispiellosem Zugang zu Tausenden Seiten internen Materials zeigt er, wie die Saat für so vieles, was unsere Welt heute prägt – schnell wachsende digitale Start-ups, bargeldlose Währungskonzepte, mobiler Geldtransfer – vor zwei Jahrzehnten von einem einzigen kleinen Start-up gelegt wurde. Ein seltener, fesselnder und gleichsam unendlich spannender Blick hinter die Kulissen eines Unternehmens dessen Gründer wahrhaft die Welt verändert haben.
Grâce aux témoignages exclusifs d’Elon Musk, Amy Rowe Klement, Peter Thiel, Julie Anderson, Max Levchin, Reid Hoffman et beaucoup d’autres, Jimmy Soni nous raconte l’histoire de ces talents réunis dans l’aventure Paypal, qui vont par la suite façonner la nouvelle économie, jusqu’au concept de cryptomonnaie.
« Putain Jimmy, tu me fais fouiller dans le grenier, là. » Elon Musk
Aujourd’hui, les fondateurs et les premiers employés de PayPal constituent le réseau le plus puissant de l’industrie technologique. Depuis qu’ils ont quitté Paypal, ils ont formé, financé et conseillé les principales entreprises de notre époque, notamment Tesla, Facebook, YouTube, SpaceX, Yelp, Palantir et LinkedIn. Ensemble, ils ont été le moteur de l’innovation et de l’esprit d’entreprise au XXIe siècle. Leurs noms attisent les passions ; ils sont aussi controversés qu’admirés. Pourtant, malgré toute leur influence, l’histoire de leurs débuts est restée largement inconnue.
Avant de déclencher la course à l’espace commercial, racheter Twitter ou de relancer l’essor des réseaux sociaux, ils étaient les créateurs inconnus d’une start-up de paiement en ligne appelée PayPal. Leur succès était tout sauf certain et ne s’est pas fait sans accrocs.
Jimmy Soni est auteur et journaliste, ancien rédacteur en chef du Huffington Post.