Random House, a division of German publishing giant Bertelsmann, has paid an undisclosed advance for a book chronicling the rise and fall of a San Francisco publishing company that was early, if not first, in its class.
"Like the Internet itself, Wired seemed to come out of nowhere," said author Gary Wolf, a former editor for Wired's online sites and currently a contributing editor to the print magazine Wired. "How did Wired land exactly on target, especially when this target was invisible to most of the world?"
While Wired got off to an early and flashy start, the company faced a rocky future, including two aborted public offerings and the sale this past May of its money-making print magazine to Condé Nast Publications. The remaining wing of the company, Wired Digital, is composed of online properties including Wired News, HotWired, and the search and content aggregation site HotBot.
Wired Ventures, which was the umbrella organization for Wired Digital and Wired magazine, is now defunct.
"Ought Wired to have been one of the biggest and most successful new companies of the '90s, as many people outside the company believed?" Wolf asked rhetorically. "If so, what went wrong?"
With Wolf's book, Wired will join Microsoft, Netscape Communications, America Online, and other firms on an increasingly crowded shelf devoted to books about computer and Internet firms and personalities.
Random House editor Scott Moyers said the book would appeal to a broader audience than just Silicon Valley junkies.
"This is a book that is not just another cyberbusiness narrative," Moyers said. "This is going to be about what Wired meant and what it means in the culture."