- Audio CD
- Publisher: Blackstone Pub; Unabridged edition (5 April 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1478939400
- ISBN-13: 978-1478939405
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 15.2 cm
- Customer Reviews: 877 customer ratings
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, Library Edition Audio CD – 5 April 2016
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About the Author
Dan Lyons is a novelist, journalist, and screenwriter. He is a co-producer and co-writer for the HBO series Silicon Valley. Previously, he was technology editor at Newsweek and the creator of the groundbreaking viral blog "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs." He has written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Wired. His fiction has earned both a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship and the Playboy College Fiction Prize. He has a BA from Bradford College and an MFA from the University of Michigan.
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A place where oldies(above 40) are second class citizens and youngsters fresh out of college are brainwashed and exploited to the hilt by founders and venture capitalists.
This book is very negative on startups but on the other hand I learnt a lot of new things. I empathise with the author as I am of his age and shudder to think of the treatment I would receive, should I find myself working in the valley.
The sad part is that there are a few notable startup traits that are toxic and the author does mention them but the whole thing gets drowned out by what appears to be a rants of a raging lunatic. I later found that if you do an Internet search you'll find 15 minute videos of the author stating pretty much what is of worth in the book. I unfortunately, found out too late.
Top international reviews
This book gives what looks to me like a credible account of what is really going on in the process of creating tech start-ups in the US and carrying them through to IPO and beyond. What's odd is that this author seems not to have known much of this before going to work for one of these start-ups despite having been a well-established and successful journalist writing about exactly this industry.
He also writes convincingly about ageism in the industry and about the general cultish atmosphere in the company he joined and, very likely, others. But again, it is strange that he reports such surprise at all this. Did he really not know at all what to expect? Maybe, or maybe it's a technique for making us react more strongly to his narrative. Given that he was well known for a satyrical column, was his new employer really that surprised at his reactions to them? Just puzzling.
On the one hand I an less than 100% sympathetic to this author. Some commenters have accused him of planning to write a book like this from the time he decided to look for a job in a tech start-up. He does say that part of his plan was to join the start-up and stick with it long enough to gain from the share options that he acquired for a year's service and it's quite consistent that he would also have regarded it as an opportunity to gather material from some sort of later writing. He also says, without any sense of fault, that he worked for quite a while on the production of blog posts without finding out what the company's business purpose was in doing it. When he eventually found out he was surprised and disappointed. The company gave him leave to take a completely different temporary job working with people more like him. He mentions their informal jokey atmosphere, but it sounds as though the jokes were often objectionable and might get people sacked fro other organisations. This gives a bit of a hollow ring to his complaints abbot the lack of diversity in the start-up he joined.
But, having worked for decades in programming/computing/systems integration/IT/whatever you call it this week, I have to say I recognise some of the ageism and incompetence he complains of. I have been disregarded as an "old fogey" and have been associated with projects that were set up with huge overconfidence - including one case where dozens of people were employed generating a loss averaging at over £1 million each and another where the shocking thing about the dysfunctional team organisation was that the project's senior members had been congratulating themselves on how brilliant it was. Not exactly like Dan Lyon's experience, but near enough for the book to trigger unhappy memories.
As a 50 year old man who has recently started work in a startup myself, I should be the ideal reader. A lot of what happens is pretty scary, especially the epilogue when it turns out that the company tried dirty tricks (coercion, blackmail) to try to prevent the book's publication.
There are stories of ludicrous mis-management, and the terrifyingly naive acceptance of stupid ideas such as "fearless Friday" by everyone around him.
However, on a couple of occasions I did find myself siding with the young people around him. If you make a quip about The Beatles to someone who was born in 1990, why on earth would you expect them to know or care what you're talking about? What's wrong with putting a lunch appointment in your electronic diary? - it prevents someone inviting you to a meeting that would clash with it. He gets very upset about age discrimination, but I'm not sure he always helps himself.
He does make some very important points about diversity in the tech industry. The leader of the company says he want to employ people who "he'd like to have a beer with" - and so, unsurprisingly, the workforce is almost exclusively young, metropolitan and white. "Not just white, but all the same kind of white", in the author's words.
The fact that people can become so rich and powerful, by delivering a product that's so pathetically poor and while being so completely ignorant of the basics of good management, is what's really scary about this book.
In the book Dan joins Hubspot and he's told how important it is to fit in. Now if I wanted to go for lunch or have a meeting with the person sitting next to me I would, like Dan ask the person for lunch. However, it's the Hubspot protocol/way/culture/ to invite someone via an intranet calander. That's the way they work and I'm a big believer if you join something you go with what's done. If everyone uses their own system it's chaos. You have a centralised system and everyone knows what works. Also, Dan would say that the environment was all frat boys and there were very few women working there, yet when he goes back to working in Journalism for a project he was right at home with all the knob jokes flying about - hardly an environment suitable for women.
However, you do have to bear in mind that this is a single company, providing a somewhat less 'techy' product than the rest of the technology world - it's marketing from a new angle, but it is still marketing; thus, it's hard to really view this book's analysis as representative of startup culture in general, even more so when taking into account the author's sometimes confusing lack of self-awareness. It surely shouldn't be that unexpected to have a meeting where penis jokes aren't the norm, or where mocking the instructor isn't seen as funny by your colleagues (however much it may be). Also, for a person who reported on the startup world as the hot-shot editor of a magazine - which you are reminded of quite constantly as you read about the author's rapid descent down the food-chain - you would again expect him to have some idea of what he was getting into with a startup, in terms of flexible working arrangements, overly exuberant company culture, etc. but there is a definite impression of some artistic licence being employed to exaggerate his level of ignorance of the startup world, even though it does make for a funnier read.
Regardless, it's easy to recommend this for a light read, though perhaps not as a job guide.
Whilst I was aware of the Fake Steve Jobs postings from years ago, it was never something I followed, and I was unaware of who Dan is, so I went into the book with no expectations, and came out presently surprised.
With anything like this we're obviously only getting one side of the argument, but his case is convincing in isolation and certainly rings true.
This is a worthwhile book that I'd recommend without hesitation, to any age range in a working environment. Certainly something I found difficult to put down.
Thoroughly enjoyed this witty and informative book, especially the commentary on the throngs of morons that now inhabit the earth using words like awesome sauce, and using 'like' as an introduction to every sentence they utter.
I didn't give him four stars because sonething didn't sit right - maybe hubspot is very different to my experience but I also suspect its an element if journalists skeptism - but some things seemed to provoke an over reaction. The bad personal stuff at the end isn't what I mean ... its something else. Still good entertaining readd though.