Tom Perkins had a dream. It wasn't to get rich, acquire power,
or marry into fame. As the man most responsible for creating
Silicon Valley, he had done all that. His venture-capital firm,
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, remains the most celebrated
money machine since the Medicis. He'd helped found Genentech and
fund Google. And in 2006 his resignation from the Hewlett-Packard
board triggered the revelation of a spying scandal that dominated
the front pages. Along the way, he also managed to get himself
convicted of manslaughter in France and become Danielle Steel's
Husband No. 5.
No, as he hit his seventies, Perkins wanted to create the
biggest, fastest, riskiest, highest-tech, most self-indulgent
sailboat ever--the "perfect yacht." His fantasy would be a modern
clipper ship--as long as a football field, forty-two feet wide,
with three masts each rising twenty stories toward the heavens.
This $130 million square-rigger--The Maltese Falcon--would evoke
the era of magnificent vessels that raced across the oceans in the
nineteenth century. But the Falcon is more than a tribute to the
past. Gone are all the deckhands to climb the yardarms. Gone is the
intricate rigging that helped give the square-riggers of yore their
impressive look. Instead, the Falcon's giant carbon-fiber masts are
entirely freestanding and rotate by computer. The bridge looks like
something out of Star Trek. And the fifteen huge sails unfurl at
the touch of a screen. In short, this is a revolutionary
machine--the most significant advance in sailing in 150 years.
With keen storytelling and biting wit, "Newsweek's" David A.
Kaplan takes us behind the scenes of an extraordinary project and
inside the mind of a larger-than-life character. We discover why
any sane man would gamble a sizeable chunk of his net worth on a
boat; we meet the cast of engineers who conspired with him; and we
learn about the other two monumental yachts just built by
gazillionaires that Perkins is ever eyeing. In a battle of egos on
the high seas, Perkins loves to preen, "Mine's better Mine's Bigger
" On the Falcon's climactic maiden voyage across the
Mediterranean--sixteen hundred nautical miles from Istanbul to
Malta to the Riviera--we revel with Perkins as his creation surges
along at record-breaking speeds.
This is the biography of a remarkable boat and the man who built
it. More than a tale of technology, "Mine's Bigger" is a profile of
ambition, hubris, and the imagination of a legendary
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