My Misadventure in the Start-up Bubble

Book - 2016
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"Wildly entertaining ... Lyons has injected a dose of sanity into a world gone mad." ---Ashlee Vance, New York Times-bestselling author of Elon Musk

For twenty-five years Dan Lyons was a magazine writer at the top of his profession--until one Friday morning when he received a phone call: Poof. His job no longer existed. "I think they just want to hire younger people," his boss at Newsweek told him. Fifty years old and with a wife and two young kids, Dan was, in a word, screwed. Then an idea hit. Dan had long reported on Silicon Valley and the tech explosion. Why not join it? HubSpot, a Boston start-up, was flush with $100 million in venture capital. They offered Dan a pile of stock options for the vague role of "marketing fellow." What could go wrong?

HubSpotters were true believers: They were making the world a better place ... by selling email spam. The office vibe was frat house meets cult compound: The party began at four thirty on Friday and lasted well into the night; "shower pods" became hook-up dens; a push-up club met at noon in the lobby, while nearby, in the "content factory," Nerf gun fights raged. Groups went on "walking meetings," and Dan's absentee boss sent cryptic emails about employees who had "graduated" (read: been fired). In the middle of all this was Dan, exactly twice the age of the average HubSpot employee, and literally old enough to be the father of most of his co-workers, sitting at his desk on his bouncy-ball "chair."

Mixed in with Lyons's uproarious tale of his rise and fall at Hubspot is a trenchant analysis of the start-up world, a de facto conspiracy between those who start companies and those who fund them, a world where bad ideas are rewarded with hefty investments, where companies blow money lavishing perks on their post-collegiate workforces, and where everybody is trying to hang on just long enough to reach an IPO and cash out.

With a cast of characters that includes devilish angel investors, fad-chasing venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and "wantrapreneurs," bloggers and brogrammers, social climbers and sociopaths, Disrupted is a gripping and definitive account of life in the (second) tech bubble.
Publisher: New York : Hachette Books 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316306089
Branch Call Number: 338.04097 L9953L 2016
Characteristics: x, 258 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Dec 21, 2018

I read Lyon's book "Lab Rats" before this one and I liked that book a lot better. Lyons makes some great points about the Tech culture and how work has changed (usually not for the better). He does seem a little grumpy at times and his feuds with his coworkers tend to drift in pettiness. Overall, it's worth reading.

May 08, 2018

I found this book trite, repetitive and not well written. The author's attempts at humor often succeed but overall I found it an uninteresting read.

Dec 11, 2017

Whatever criticisms one might have about this author's experience joining the world of start-ups past age 50 there's no denying that he produces a compelling and entertaining read. The reader comments on goodreads.com are entertaining, interesting, and mostly spot-on. This would be an excellent book for a book group to devour and discuss as there is much to digest and think about.

A very easy, entertaining read but also one with deeper implications.

May 24, 2017

Funny account of an older, recently laid-off man who re-enters the work force by joining a start-up. If you can overlook occasional forays into self-pity (the best part about side gig at HBO? being able to tell inappropriate jokes), he nails the start-up culture and need for making it to an IPO stage.

Jan 03, 2017

Although quite "ranty" at times, it's a very informed read of the current start-up culture and what it's like to work for such a business. The story resonated a bit and left me with a bit of PTSD from my time working in marketing, but highly recommend. Very well written.

Nov 24, 2016

Quite a shocking expose of the current "silicon valley" culture. Well worth the read if one is interested in the startup culture. Listening to the audiobook, narrated by the author, he did seem very bitter and so the tone of voice and the writing can feel like a rant at times.

Jul 23, 2016

This is a terrifyingly funny book. The irony drips from every page. One example - HubSpot, a company that sells inbound marketing software, must use overbearing outbound tele-marketing to get customers. Another - Hubspot’s corportate speak for it’s company “culture” is “HEART” (for Humble, Effective, Adaptable, Remarkable, Transparent), but the company uses impersonal computer monitoring and brutal algorithms to determine if there’s any value in retaining its candy-coated sweatshop employees. If what Dan Lyon recounts about his time at HubSpot is even a little bit true - his professed nativity is questionable since he was the author of the deeply sarcastic, inside tech blog, The Fake Steve Jobs - it’s a dark, dystopian world out there in the land of tech startups

Jul 16, 2016

Fantastic look into today's generation of tech and the system of start-ups and millennials alike. It exposes the seemingly brainwashing tactics and the ethics (or lack thereof) within the culture while defining its off-the-wall workflow. Somewhat a frightening crystal ball view of the start-up industry for those looking to enter. Laughed myself silly reading the prologue alone, so I was sure I would enjoy the rest; I did.

Jun 06, 2016

20-starred review
This book is both hilarious - - and scary! Disrupted is easily the best business book for 2016 - - and most probably the best book on the sociology of work [and the sociology of worker stupidity] and and also social economics!
Please do pay especially close attention to pp. 116 to 121; most important!
What the author describes applies to the majority [or vast majority - - surely there must be one exception?] of Internet startups over the past 20 to 25 years - - and save for a few details, is universal for the American business venue over the past 40 - - and equally applies to telecom tech startups I was at in the late 1970s, early 1980s!
The ageism thing is really part and parcel of the lack of diversity, but more indicative that with the offshoring of jobs and insourcing of foreign visa workers, real experience is trivialized, and not recognized, costing American business untold innovative and creative wealth [programmers reach peak more towards 35 to 50, not 15 to 25, but there are those who would argue with me no doubt] - - but was the author really in a tech startup, since Internet startups aren't really about the technology, per se, but follow the telecom financial model: if profits are ever realized, it usually requires at least 10 years of existence, first!
[This book brought back many frustrating memories, how the majority of companies I've worked at were really criminal enterprises, my first required office hacking to correct the results of back inventory programs mucking up everything, only to realize years later it was on purpose as the overall corporation was involved in money laundering - - and as a contractor at Micro$oft long ago attempting to explain the major flaw in Word's mailmerge design [mass mailings aren't normally made to the same address] but the 22-year-olds had no Real World expierience, and thought I was misguided!? And the HR person at one startup writing about Venn diagrams, which she considered complex, in the company newspaper - - were we introduced to Venn diagrams in 4th or 5th grade???]
My advice to anyone just starting out today: be sure to bug your supervisor's workspace and, if possible, the CEO's office - - yes it is illegal, but they will be aiming endless illegal practices at you and the others!

May 12, 2016

As author Dan Lyons states, this book is not satire, it's what really happened to him during his time at Hubspot. In addition to being about the ridiculous culture and behavior of a startup company without any adult supervision, there are other important topics touched upon: the dire circumstances of a 50-something who was laid off, the overt age discrimination of the tech field, the borderline fraud of startups, and the exploitation of workers. An easy and interesting read that makes one think twice about working at the startups popping up in Silicon Valley.

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Apr 18, 2016

Lyons was a technology journalist at the top of his career when the news industry imploded, leaving him 'screwed' in his words. He stumbled around, eventually getting work at HubSpot, the marketing support company. The job fit was so bad! When it ended about a year later, Lyons had a perfect chance to exercise his well practised skills in satirical writing and 'take the piss out' of Hubspot.

There are a few themes here:
- ageism: Lyons was twice the age of the average Hubspotter, and he delights in detailing how green they were

- VC start-up bubble: Hubspot and similar businesses make their founders millionares while being unprofitable. The investors foolishly loose millions.

- marketing: Hubspot's 'awesome' capability was in spammy email campaigns.

- culture: The company culture was laughable, and Lyons has a great time satirizing it.

The book is infamous at this time. See Lyon's https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/when-comes-age-bias-tech-companies-dont-even-bother-lie-dan-lyons Linkedin post, and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/undisrupted-hubspots-reflections-disrupted-dan-lyons-dharmesh-shah Hubspot's riposte. See also Lyons' http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/opinion/sunday/congratulations-youve-been-fired.html article in the NY Times . And Lyons' Linkedin profile describes his experience at Hubspot succinctly 'Veni, vidi, scripsi'. Lyons may never again get a chance to work in a technology company, but he has revenues from a best seller, and I suspect he has a comfortable future as an author.


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