Greg Bardsley’s Cash Out takes aim at Silicon Valley excesses

Every now and then it’s good for Silicon Valley to step back and take a look at itself.

If it can do that through the lens of ridiculousness, all the better, because face it: Half of what happens in the world’s high-tech center is nearly too ridiculous to believe. Author Greg Bardsley has tapped into that sometimes dark wackiness in his first novel “Cash Out.

The book traces the crazy trajectory of a valley family man’s sprint to IPO riches. Let’s just say it doesn’t go as planned.

Bardsley, whose day job is handling executive communications at Hewlett Packard, is getting some traction with the book. The latest flattering review comes from The Los Angeles Review of Books.

The guy clearly is a Silicon Valley expert, having worked at LSI Logic and Sun Microsystems and now working at HP. He decided to put that home-grown knowledge to work by tackling the  valley’s extremes in the extreme. But what makes him a terrific tour guide of the valley’s go-go culture is that he writes from the heart.

“There is this faith,” Bardsley says of the Silicon Valley mindset, “that we’re in this sweet spot. We’re always innovating. We’re always changing.”

It can build to the point where a person or a company feels that he, she or it can do no wrong.

“If the world tells you you’re brilliant for an extended period of time,” Bardsley says, “you’re going to start to believe it.”

Bardsley has been thinking about all this for a long time. When he started “Cash Out,” he had it set in 1999. (His publisher and editor thought 2008 made more sense.) Remember 1999? Well junior, it was crazy. Does the phrase “dot-com boom” mean anything to you?

“I think that you heard a lot of arrogance,” Bardsley told me when we met for coffee this morning. “You still hear a  lot of arrogance. You still hear that at the new hot companies.”

But even as he pokes fun, Bardsley still clearly has a lot of appreciation for what Silicon Valley has brought to the world and particularly for the people who have been doing the bringing.

“It’s a magnet for a lot of smart people, amazing people,” he says. “This is a hot bed for what they do. But I also think there are people who come here to make a lot of money.”

Yes, people who cash out. Or try.



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