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The Billionaire's Folly
Faisal Khan , author

A billionaire's experimental crypto startup soon veers off the rails into anarchy and greed.

In his fast-paced, engagingly written debut, Khan takes readers into the dizzying world of successful entrepreneurs and young idealistic businessmen hoping to cash in on the crypto currency mania of the late 2010s—and maybe change the world for the better. Khan worked for ConsenSys between 2017 and 2020, and he narrates in striking detail the ups and downs he and his colleagues navigated as ConsenSys became the world’s largest blockchain-focused company, pitching their products to clients from around the world and hoping to make Ethereum—“the software cum cryptocurrency cum ‘world computer’”—technology pervasive across all sectors of finance.

Khan opens this rise-and-fall story with a clarifying and succinctly written primer on block chain technology and crypto currency. Then, throughout, he emphasizes the idealism and ambition that drove him and his colleagues, qualities exemplified by ConsenSys founder, CEO, and Ethereum inventor Joseph Lubin’s goal of decentralizing global finance and building “an internet that was decentralized and fair rather than exploitative and foul.” Those goals, and the desire to bring change to big tech and big banks, drove Khan, “a washed up management consultant,” to commit himself to ConsenSys and the possibility “redeem”ing his career. His idealism—and its inevitable conflict with personal financial interests and the greed that consumes a company as it experiences spectacular growth, as ConsenSys did—emerge as the primary theme that Khan engages throughout the book.

Though Khan does a great job at explaining the corporate and fintech jargon, the narrative still at times gets bogged down in details that might challenge the lay reader. Still, Khan provides many moments of levity and details from his personal life that punctuate the narrative while capturing the rush of “hypergrowth” and cutting-edge tech and finance, plus the toll that the stress and terror exacts. Overall, this well-observed, often tense account reveals the frenzied world of crypto and blockchain technology.

Takeaway: The rise and fall of a blockchain company, written from the inside.

Great for fans of: Vitalik Buterin’s Proof of Stake, Alex Tapscott’s Digital Asset Revolution.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-