In Search of Stupidity: Over 40 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters, 3rd Edition is Coming Soon!

The NEW Definitive Guide to What NOT to Do to Your High-Tech Venture

In 2001 and 2006, the first and second editions of In Search of Stupidity: Over 40 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters were launched with the mission of encouraging all high-tech companies to:

Study the mistakes of the past, apply self-observation to your current behavior, and if you see yourself repeating a previous example of idiocy, stop and do something else. As I point out in Chapter 1, the claim that high-tech companies are constantly running into “new” and “unique” situations that they cannot possibly be expected to anticipate and intelligently resolve is demonstrably false (particularly if you read In Search of Stupidity). The truth is that technology companies are constantly repeating the same mistakes with wearying consistency (as this second edition makes even clearer), and many of the stupid things these companies do are completely avoidable.

Many prescient companies have read the first and second editions of Stupidity and have avoided executing stupid marketing programs and policies that have damaged, crippled, and in some cases destroyed high-tech firms. But, hard as it is to believe, many companies have not read these invaluable works and thus continue the process of shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly. Thus, twelve years after the release of the second edition, It’s time for me to give high-tech firms a third chance to save their toes (and businesses)!

What’s in the Third Edition?

More of what you loved in the First and Second Editions!


  • Ageism and intolerance directed towards anyone over 40!
  • Bad and offensive collaterals.
  • Clueless and abusive CEOs.
  • Heinous hypocrisy by high-tech’s largest firms.
  • Meathead marketing.
  • Putrid product positioning.
  • PR disasters and blunders.
  • Predatory and incoherent pricing.
  • Worthless business wonderbooks.

What’s new includes:

  • Blatant attempts to rig entire markets (looking at you, Amazon).
  • Creepy search and censoring algorithms launched by giant unaccountable social networks.
  • Horrendous hardware hi-jinks.
  • Mass alienation of audiences to the right of Marx, Lenin, and Mao.
  • Out of control R&D.
  • Personal and political intolerance in Silicon Valley.
  • Repeated privacy invasions and illicit trading of personal information.

All of the above disastrous to company revenues, reputation, and bottom lines and all of it completely avoidable!

Bonus More

  • Brand new cover!
  • More cartoons and illustrations!
  • A new poster!
  • And other cool stuff!

Scary Monsters, Super Creeps

For the inexperienced, naive, and the people who have not already read earlier editions of In Search of Stupidity, today’s high-tech market can be a Fun House of Fright! As you read through it, you’ll:

Experience the horror of Steve Ballmer unleashing Windows 8 positioning hell on an unsuspecting world. Gasp as Microsoft’s entire mobile platform (and Ballmer’s executive career) is destroyed!

Feel the panic as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn invade everyone’s privacy, disintermediate their subscribers from their personal networks, and launch mass censorship by building The Great Left Coast Firewall!

Gaze in amazement as high-tech CEOs keep self-destructing on a planet where everyone has a smartphone and everything you say goes viral immediately!

Shriek in despair as Disrupted author Dan Lyons buries employment opportunities in high-tech for everyone over 40!

Scream in disbelief as Hollywood makes a movie about Steve Jobs that doesn’t contain a single actual fact!

Endure bone-chilling fear as Microsoft unleashes its UI designers to perform yet another chainsaw massacre on the innocent Skype interface!

Shiver in awe as Jeff Bezos channels Steve Jobs during Amazon’s Fire Phone development but is possessed by Alfred E. Neuman instead!

Watch in disbelief as Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, David Gaughran and the rest of AAAH (Aggregated Amazon Ankle Grabbers) transform 8,661 independent writers into strange mutant lemmings who leap mindlessly to their financial doom while clutching their Kindles!

These are just some of the high-tech marketing chillers you’ll experience during your journey through In Search of Stupidity: Over 30 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters, There are plenty more spine tingling true stories to terrorize you into texting your next marketing message in all “scare” emojis. But don’t worry! You’ll come through it all safe and sound because Stupidity is your safe harbor against the marketing horrors you’ll learn about. In addition to a comprehensive discussion of each disaster, every chapter contains also contains a detailed analysis of what went wrong and how it could have been avoided.

Why Buy In Search of Stupidity: Over 40 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters?

Stupidity is your garlic wreath against the vampire forces of ignorance and cluelessness constantly circling your business and career. This book can literally save you millions (and always thousands) of dollars. Don’t believe me? Let me prove it.

In the first edition of Stupidity, I described how in 1984 the then largest desktop software company in the world, MicroPro, destroyed itself by committing a fundamental product positioning mistake.

What did MicroPro do?

They introduced two products with…

  • Similar names—WordStar and WordStar 2000
  • Over lapping functionality.
  • The same audience.
  • The same price.

…at the same time.

Chaos, and eventually the company’s death, followed. Of course, that was the 80s and what did they know back then? Except that in 2012, Microsoft (and we can guarantee you that not a single member of the development group read a word of Stupidity), repeated almost exactly every mistake MicroPro made with the Windows 8 launch, a sin for which Redmond is still paying. Read more about the history of both debacles in the third edition of In Search Of Stupidity.  (And yes, Jeff Bezos could have saved a cool $187 million if he’d had a copy of Stupidity in Lab26.)

More reasons provided by readers of the previous editions:

Richland, WA
Fast, lively, and well-written- like a master storyteller doing I.T.

This book, IMO, is written like a Porsche is built: fast, fun, and nimble. Though I picked it up because of its subject matter (computers, software), I also enjoyed it for a second reason: the quality of the writing.

I’ve really enjoyed reading, and dipping back into, this book. I almost never open up books after I’ve read them, but this one is an exception. I find myself keeping it around where I can get to it easily- and reading excerpts just for the fun of it. IMO, this guy’s writing is great.

The book is well-done and has some of the best software anecdotes… and discussions of marketing… that I have read in quite some time. I’m not in the software biz, but i have always been fascinated by it… and how its personalities can enhance, and in the cases you cited, undermine what are often very good products. I have been a marketer all of my career, and i felt that the paragraph on p 276 starting with “And then an awful realization…” was one of the best descriptions of what B2B marketing managers face and how difficult marketing management can be that i have ever encountered. I recommend the book highly for both entertainment and for marketing insights.
New York, NY 

I’m not sure who recommended this book to me but I owe the person a debt of gratitude. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed this hard for any non-fiction book, no less one about the worst mistakes of the computer industry.

Like the author (and some of the other Amazon reviewers) I was there during the early days of the development of the PC industry, first at a hardware manufacturer then at my own sofware company. So I can speak with some authority that the events described in this book are authentic–but authenticity is almost besides the point. What In Search Of… accomplishes is to make you laugh while at the same time teaching you not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

I Can’t Wait! When Can I Buy My Copy!

Spring, 2018.  Join our ARC (advanced review copy) mailing list now to receive your free copy of the book before it’s released. Only 100 ARC slots are available. Yes, we will ask you to write a review for the venue of your choice when the book is released regardless of whether you love it or hate it. ARC readers will also receive access to other bonuses and gifts when the Third Edition is released.

Excerpts from the book will be regularly released on this page beginning in September up through the final publication date. We’ll also be posting the new cover, new cartoons and other illustrations, as well as other tidbits, so bookmark this page and check back often to see what’s going on.

You can also contact me directly at if you have further questions or want to nominate a candidate for ISOS 3.0! (If you want me to remove your firm from the book, you’re probably out of luck.)

Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman
In Search of Stupidity, Over 40 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters
SaaS Entrepreneur: The Definitive Guide to Succeeding in Your Cloud Application Business
Selling Steve Jobs’ Liver: A Story of Startups, Innovation, and Connectivity in the Clouds

Complete Chapter Listing for the Third Edition

(Please note chapter titles and contents may change before publication)


Foreword to the Third Edition
Foreword to the First Edition
About the Author
About the Artists


One Introduction: The Long and Winding Tech Road, the Rise of the NPEs, the Prediction Game,  and Tesla
Two First Movers, First Mistakes: Apple, Digital Research, IBM and Microsoft
Three Some Rather Nutty Tales: IBM and the PC Junior; Microsoft and the Zune
Four Positioning Puzzlers: MicroPro, Microsoft, and the Amazon Firephone
Five We Hate You, We Really Hate You Ed Esber and Ashton-Tate; Travis Kalanick and Uber
Six The Idiot Piper: OS/2 and IBM
Seven Frenchman Eats Frog, Chokes to Death Borland and Phillipe Kahn
Eight Brands for the Burning: Intel, Google and China, Motorola
Nine From Godzilla to Gecko: The Long, Slow Decline of Novell
Ten Ripping PR Yarns: Microsoft and Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Tesla Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos
Eleven Purple Haze All Through My Brain: The, Ebook and ASP Meltdowns; the SaaS Rebirth
Twelve Revenge of the Pleistocene: How Dan Lyons and HubSpot Made Sure if You’re Over 40 You’re Unemployable in High Tech
Thirteen A Lifetime of Regret: A Post Mortem of  the 2015 Steve Jobs Movie Portraying People Who Never Actually Existed
Fourteen Building the Great Left Coast Firewall: Google, Facebook, YouTube and LInkedIn
Fifteen Wool Over Eveyone’s Eyes: Amazon Goes AAAGH Over Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, and Various and Sundry Flacks
Sixteen On Avoiding Stupidity
Afterword Stupid Development Tricks with Joel Spolsky
Glossary of Terms
Selected Bibliography

Excerpts Coming Soon!

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