Samsung Rising | Geoffrey Cain

Summary of: Samsung Rising: The Inside Story of the South Korean Giant That Set Out to Beat Apple and Conquer Tech
By: Geoffrey Cain


Dive into the captivating story of Samsung, a global tech behemoth that originated as a simple dried fish and vegetable shop. In ‘Samsung Rising’, Geoffrey Cain explores the company’s rise to success through the lens of South Korean history, politics, and culture. This summary will guide you through Samsung’s journey, from its humble beginnings and rapid expansion into electronics and semiconductors, to becoming South Korea’s largest company. Discover the scandals, court battles, and challenges the company faced along the way, as well as Samsung’s complex relationship with Apple. Meticulously researched with over 400 interviews, this summary provides a fascinating overview of the driving forces behind Samsung’s rise to greatness.

The Rise and Turmoil of Samsung

Samsung’s history is traced by Foreign correspondent Geoffrey Cain through a government coup, smartphones that caught fire, and an epic legal battle with Apple. A symbol of South Korean pride and corruption, Cain depicts Samsung as juggling the dueling forces of tradition and modernity. Despite Financial Times and McKinsey long-listing Cain’s biography as a Business Book of the Year, The New York Times criticized Cain for spending too much time on smartphone marketing. Although he only received scant access to Samsung’s reclusive founders, the Lee family, The Wall Street Journal praised the book as being “essential reading for the 21st century.”

Samsung’s Fear-Based Culture

In “Samsung Rising,” Geoffrey Cain discusses the culture of fear at Samsung, an environment that discouraged employees from disclosing potential problems to their bosses. This was evident in the 2016 Samsung brand disaster, where the company knew its devices overheated but hid that knowledge. Samsung’s success is crucial to South Korea’s national economy and pride, considering it went from a military dictatorship to a democracy and tech hub in two generations. Cain reveals that Samsung only recalled the Galaxy Note 7 after vendors reported a lack of sales, illustrating the company’s profit-driven decision-making.

The Roots of Samsung

In “Samsung Rising,” Geoffrey Cain reveals that the success of Samsung, the leading South Korean conglomerate, was not just about numbers, but about patriotism and spirit. The company’s founder, B.C. Lee, started with a small dried fish and vegetable shop and later rebuilt his fortune with a diversified portfolio that included a university, a department store, and shares in a bank. Although rich and powerful, the tycoon faced criticism for his corrupt political connections. The book also delves into a controversial stock maneuver that landed two Samsung executives in jail for corruption.

Samsung’s Militaristic Roots

After being coerced to give up control of his banks, Samsung’s founder expanded into electronics, tapping into South Koreans’ emotions and sense of belonging. The company’s militaristic culture is characterized by family members inheriting executive roles, prioritizing ethnic Korean bloodlines, embracing militaristic rituals, being wary of outsiders, and venerating a paternalistic leader.

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