Cover image for Disrupted my misadventure in the start-up bubble
Title:
Disrupted my misadventure in the start-up bubble
Edition:
Unabridged.
Publication Information:
[Ashland, OR] : Blackstone Audio, [2016]

©2016
ISBN:
9781478939436
Physical Description:
8 sound discs (9 hr.) : digital, CD audio ; 4 3/4 in.
Language:
English
General Note:
Title from container.

Compact discs.
Abstract:
For twenty-five years Dan Lyons was a leading tech journalist, until the Friday his Newsweek boss called. His job? Gone. Fifty years old with two young kids, Lyons was, in a word, screwed. Then an idea hit. For years he'd seen people strike gold in the start-up boom. Why not him? One tech company, flush with $100 million, offered a pile of stock options. What could go wrong?
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Corporate Subject:
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Prescott Public Library1Received on 6/15/16

Summary

Summary

For twenty-five years Dan Lyons was a leading tech journalist--until the Friday his Newsweek boss called. His job? Gone. Fifty years old with two young kids, Lyons was, in a word, screwed. Then an idea hit. For years he'd seen people strike gold in the start-up boom. Why not him? One tech company, flush with $100 million, offered a pile of stock options. What could go wrong?His new employer made the world a better place...by selling email spam. The office vibe was frat house meets cult compound: shower pods became hook-up dens; Nerf gun fights broke out at lunch; and absent bosses specialized in cryptic, jargon-filled emails. In the middle of this sat Lyons, old enough to be his coworkers' father.With portraits of devilish angel investors, fad-chasing venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and wantrapreneurs, bloggers and brogrammers, Disrupted is a hilarious story of self-reinvention and a definitive account of life in the tech bubble.


Reviews 4

Kirkus Review

An inside-out look at the frenzied and at times surreal work environment of tech startup HubSpot. In 2012, at the age of 51, longtime journalist Lyons was "unceremoniously dumped" from his position at Newsweek. The magazine, like so many other traditional media publications, was struggling to cope with digitization. (The irony is that the author covered technology for the magazine.) Forced to reinvent his career, Lyons took a risk by accepting the position of "marketing fellow" at HubSpot, a software-as-a-service marketing and sales company that had become "one of the hottest tech start-ups on the East Coast." As the writer behind the satirical blog Fake Steve Jobs, the author could not have imagined a place so ripe for parody as HubSpot. Every detail of the hip office space, incompetent management, and delusional workforce described by Lyons in his hilarious and unsettling expos is like something out of a scripted comedy (the author writes for HBO's Silicon Valley). But beneath the showy display of unlimited candy, beer, and other sundry perks enjoyed by HubSpot's employees, the culture Lyons experienced was ruthless, predatory, and unforgiving. Employees were routinely "graduated" (i.e., fired) without warning, oftentimes by younger, inexperienced managers. (The theme of ageism plays throughout.) HubSpot pitches itself as a mission-based company whose software will not only help their customers save money and increase profits, but also make the world a better place. These examples of Orwellian doublespeak and utopian jargon are commonplace at tech companies, and they are strategically employed to whip up fervor among employees, investors, and the press as well as disguise the fact that their business models are often ineffective. Lyons sums up the startup model: "Grow fast, lose money, go public." For Lyons, his adventure at HubSpot was a case study in drudgery, and it turned out to be more pernicious than he could have guessed. An exacting, excoriating takedown of the current startup "bubble" and the juvenile corporate culture it engenders. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

This is an East Coast spin on the start-up explosion. Finding himself at the crossroads of 50 and unemployed in an age-discriminating time, journalist and author Lyons took a career detour to tech start-up HubSpot, an e-mail spam seller. It didn't take long for him to figure out that the Boston-based company wasn't exempt from the Silicon Valley start-up craziness, including unorthodox practices like being forced to talk to a teddy bear and take a multitude of IQ tests. Lyons mingled with a cast of characters, including executives dubbed Cranium and Wingman, along with much younger coworkers in a culture of company perks in what he likens to a cult all confirming tech-bubble stereotypes. Although Lyons admits his job was little more than banging out blog posts and recording podcasts, his work takes a backseat to the tales of strained interactions, the company's investments in harebrained ideas, and the unscrupulous tactics of profit-driven management. This slice-of-life narrative leaves us with a unique insight into the tech boom and the culture it creates.--Adams, Jennifer Copyright 2016 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

DAN LYONS IS the last journalist who should have been surprised when he became yet another casualty in the war on old-media workers. A longtime tech writer (he began writing for PC Week in the 1980s, before the field became sexy), he was the technology editor at Newsweek in 2012 when he was "unceremoniously dumped" (would "ceremoniously dumped" have been better?) and at the age of 52 became what a story about the recession in his own magazine the previous year called a "beached white male." When Lyons started his job four years earlier, Newsweek employees were already being offered buyouts; how could he not have seen what was coming? But he is also the last journalist who should have been leveled by the blow, since he had already shown himself to be enviably resourceful: In 2006, while he was the technology reporter at Forbes, he started a wicked, at first anonymous blog called The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, in which, writing as Fake Steve, he portrayed the real Jobs as a constellation of personality disorders and satirized everyone of note in Silicon Valley. He turned the blog into a novel and also got a TV deal out of it. And though the show was never produced, he developed some pretty sweet Hollywood connections - the superagent Ari Emanuel and Larry Charles, of "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fame. "Disrupted" is born of Lyons's attempt to cross over from covering tech to getting a piece of the action in the second, current Internet bubble. He lucks out to a degree that is enviable, not because of his payday (he never tells us his salary, and his stock-option payout isn't grand), but because the company he ends up working for, HubSpot, a marketing-software firm in Cambridge, Mass., is tailor-made for someone like him to write about, not as Fake Steve but as Real Dan. HubSpot embodies everything that's ridiculous about the culture of start-ups, and in the bargain it reinforces every paranoid worry Lyons has about his age: As he learned from the beached-white-male piece, "in the new economy, age 50 was the new 65." If I were not able to confirm the existence of HubSpot on the web, I might think Lyons had invented it. The place is, to use Lyons's references, a hash of Orwellian double-speak, the movie "Office Space" and Scientology. HubSpot blasts its customers with what normal people call spam but they call "lovable marketing content." It wants to put its customers into a state of "delightion." Employees are entitled to unlimited free food and unlimited vacation time. There's a wall of candy. One of the founders of the company brings a teddy bear to meetings so that the idea of "the customer" they are determined to delight is less abstract. And then there's the unnerving, unreal reality that HubSpot shares with a number of other Internet companies: Although it has a valuation of around $2 billion, it has never made a profit. Unfortunately, Lyons isn't able to get beyond the obvious ridiculousnesses. The young people who work at HubSpot - they're so horribly, horribly young - are indistinguishable aliens to Lyons, and incapable, he says, of appreciating irony or sarcasm, or him. None of this will be new to anyone who read even a couple of pieces about the first Internet bubble. The Ping-Pong tables, the snacks, the beanbag chairs - it's all very familiar. Lyons doesn't get below the surface of the place, or get to know anyone; connection and insight don't seem to be his strengths. It's not all his fault: After being hired as a "marketing fellow," he is essentially ignored, and has nothing useful to do, and no one listens to his ideas. Naturally, he hates HubSpot almost instantly, gets into power struggles with co-workers and posts trouble-courting comments on Facebook. The disrupted is now a disrupter. You can't blame him for what seems to be a kind of termination wish - HubSpot is clearly a crazy-making company. One of the founders promulgates a corporate "culture code" called Heart, an acronym of five deadening words: humble, effective, adaptable, remarkable, transparent. At the same time, when employees are fired it is said they are "graduated," and their names are never mentioned again. Lyons's book derails about three-quarters of the way through, as he becomes obsessed with the unpredictable behavior of one of his co-workers, a fellow he calls Trotsky, toward him. (Almost everyone in the book has been given a mildly clever pseudonym.) The reader can't make sense of their relationship either, and soon stops caring enough to try. What carries the book through to the end are two twists: One is that Lyons is summoned to Hollywood again, to write for the HBO comedy "Silicon Valley," for a few months (while he's still at HubSpot); the other is that once Lyons leaves HubSpot and writes this book, the company's chief marketing officer is caught trying to procure the manuscript before it's published, and is fired for his enterprising efforts. That is, of course, a gift to Lyons, but he disingenuously professes shock over the news: "Why would anyone go to such lengths to get hold of a memoir whose essential purpose was to entertain?" (Oh, perhaps because people don't find it very entertaining to be depicted as charlatans.) Such faux naïveté is unbecoming in someone as savvy as Lyons is, and makes him seem, in the end, an unreliable narrator of his own story. Lyons hates HubSpot almost instantly and gets into power struggles with co-workers. NANCY FRANKLIN was the television critic of The New Yorker from 1998 to 2011.


Library Journal Review

Lyons, a writer for the HBO series Silicon Valley, here divulges his experience in start-up culture. After losing his job at Newsweek, the author took a position as a "marketing fellow" at HubSpot, an inbound marketing firm based in Massachusetts. In this honest and hilarious account of his time as a HubSpotter, Lyons describes the almost cultlike environment at the company, how he began with little direction and succeeded by creating content that satisfied his managers. As HubSpot started the work to file an IPO (initial public offering) and Lyons telecommuted from Los Angeles, his material came under fire and the jovial workplace turned dark and malicious. Verdict Lyons brings an unusual perspective into the Silicon Valley work setting. His story leaves readers flabbergasted yet wanting more. Highly recommended.-Meghan Dowell, Beloit Coll., WI © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.