Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
WHAT I DRANK: This was a doctor night so I’m hanging out with Sam and Parker. We started with some awesome margaritas (thanks Parker) and then I switched to some beers. It’s been a really good night. We were literally laughing our asses off a few minutes ago, so… good night.
NON-SPOILERED REVIEW: Okay so I guess it’s time to give a little bit of background about the book. I read Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start Up Bubble, which was actually suggested for a book club I’m in so this is kind of cheating. I’ve had the chance to get a lot of my opinions out during book club so I’mhoping that this post might actually be a little bit more cohesive than a number of my previous posts.
The author Dan Lyons was a reporter for Newsweek – basically he had worked in the technology sector for a long time, respected reporter blah blah blah. After the market crash of 2008, his magazine kept people on but around 2012 he was laid off without much warning. He ended up moving to a start up and boy did he have a shitty experience.
He detailed (and I mean a lot of detail) the way that his coworkers, who were mostly in their 20’s, weren’t particularly open to being friendly, that he didn’t fit the atmosphere of constant congratulations over trivial accopmlishments, that his job wasn’t what had been described in the first place, and so much more.
The biggest problem was that reading this book, a number of his complaints came off as ‘old man shaking his fist at the clouds’ kind of thing. He didn’t really appreciate the candy wall, he kind of checked out when he wasn’t getting positive reinforcement. There’s some stuff I’m gonna mention in the spoiler section (which feels like it should generally be unnecessary when blogging about non-fiction. I mean, it’s all real, why does it need spoilers – and yet here it applies), but it still felt like a number of his problems were self made.
It was definitely interesting getting a look (if biased) into the start up culture. As someone who has only worked in fairly traditional work settings, it was interesting to hear more about what a start up was like behind the scenes. I mean, obviously the author wasn’t thrilled with the oodles of money being spent on the draft beer and cider in the office, or the tequila party, or some of the other expenses, but it was interesting to see the way that affected people. The way it could draw people in who might be able to make more money otherwise. But yet again, a number of the main complaints from Mr. Lyons, sounded like they could have been exaggerated, or were just the problem of someone who wasn’t willing to learn a new corporate culture (because obviously a startup and newsweek would do things differently), but there were definitely some things that backed up his claim.
SPOILERED REVIEW: So while I felt the author was very clearly biased thinking that the way everything done was stupid, it became clear that he wasn’t just complaining about nothing when at the end of the book he casually drops the information that there was an FBI investigation into the company after he left, because there was evidence that the company may have been stalking/hacking into the Author’s personal accounts. It’s speculated that at the point they found out he was writing a book with his negative experiences, that some attmepts were made to try and access his accounts.
No information was ever passed on to the author so, everyone is kind of left in the dark here. But it made it seem like a lot more of his complaints were legitimate. If a company is so worried about a tell-all being written they obviously know that they have something to hide. The author’s sometimes smarmy attitude can’t be completely set aside, but knowing that he had some experiences that madet he company worried definitely makes him seem more worthy of compassion. It’s hard to know how biased he was, or what if anything was over-exaggerated, which can be fairly frustrating.
BACK TO NON-SPOILERS: This isn’t a book I would suggest to everyone. It was definitely an interesting read, and a look into the start up culture that seems fairly pervasive in society, yet it comes from a source who has clear reasons for not enjoying his experience. Plus, it’s just a look at a single start up, it could be particularly bad, or fairly normal (I’m not sure anyone could call it a good experience – at least not for the author). So, basically I find myself conflicted on this book.
RATING: The one thing I have to say is that it was an entertaining read. I read the entire thing within a day. I did have a time limit, given bookclub, but it wasn’t a slog by any means necessary. It’s easy to see why Dan Lyons did well in the reporting sector. Things were quick and concise and written in an easy to read manner. That being said I found myself questioning his point of the view through the entire book. It wasn’t until the twist at the end (covered under spoilers) that I started to really think he wasn’t just exaggerating every slight. Because of that, this book gets a 3.5 purely for the entertainment value as opposed to gathering any actual information.
WHAT TO DRINK: Honestly, I feel like this book calls for Everclear. Something that’s gonna hit you quick, knock you flat, and have you questioning what the fuck happened?
I hope you’re enjoying whatever you’re reading, until next time.