Citizen Reading: 18 July 2016
Friday Book Lists: 22 July 2016

Disrupted, by Dan Lyons.

As per usual, I've completely forgotten how I came across the title Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, by Dan Lyons. I know the variety of ways people track their reading, but does anyone have a way to keep track of how they FIND their reading? I'm never taking notes when I'm requesting my books from the library.

DisruptedSo I requested this book, and got it, and then it was laying around my house, but I didn't particularly feel like reading it, and I can't say the cover did much for me either. But read it I did, and once I started, I just went ahead and read the whole thing. Basically, it's a work memoir, with Lyons describing his experiences after being downsized from his Newsweek journalism job working for tech/marketing company HubSpot. He starts right in in the first chapter with his first day at HubSpot, and how nobody who hired him was there, and nobody knew he was coming, and various other complaints and descriptions of his new workplace, like this one:

"Dogs roam HubSpot's hallways, because like the kindergarten decor, dogs have become de rigueur for tech start-ups. At noon, Zack tells me, a group of bros meets in the lobby on the second floor to do pushups together. Upstairs there is a place where you can drop off your dry cleaning. Sometimes they bring in massage therapists. On the second floor there are shower rooms, which are intended for bike commuters and people who jog at lunchtime, but also have been used as sex cabins when the Friday happy hour gets out of hand. Later I will learn (from Penny, the receptionist, who is a fantastic source of gossip) that at one point things got so out of hand that management had to send out a memo. 'It's the people from sales,' Penny tells me. 'They're disgusting.'" (p. 5.)

It continues on much in that vein for most of the rest of the book.

It wasn't uninteresting, and it was a serviceable inside look at tech companies and their economics (come up with idea, make a company, hire lots of young workers and don't pay them anything but give them perks like "sex cabins" and walls filled with candy dispensers, sell out to bigger company and make big bucks for the founders, venture capitalists, and a few lucky others who were there at the beginning). It's gross, to tell you the truth. And it's somewhat surreal when you consider that this whole book is about a company that sells marketing software (although Lyons is never really sure, it seems, what HubSpot does, or what he is doing there), with a stock price that seemed overvalued at $30 per share at their initial public offering...and now that stock is above $40. For what? Unnerving.

The biggest problem with the book is Lyons himself, who sounds throughout like a thoroughly spoiled and unlikable Baby Boomer, annoyed that he lost his posh journalism job just when he was getting older, had kids, and needed to make some real coin. I'm not going to go through and find the instances in this book where Lyons sounded distinctly whiny, borderline sexist, and unfunny (the littlest CR around here keeps pulling all the bookmarks out of books I have sitting around), but if you're interested, this is the review of this book with which I most agreed, and it lists plenty of those instances for you.

Lyons is primarily known for being the author of the satirical blog The Real Steve Jobs, and for being a writer on the HBO show "Silicon Valley." I've seen one episode of that, and it was quite funny, and another friend who works in tech informs me it's a scarily accurate how as far as the tech culture is concerned (which is, to be perfectly honest with you, I'm not going to watch any more--I just don't have the heart for it). So perhaps you might be better off binge-watching a few episodes of that, rather than having to put up with Lyons's pissy entitled tone throughout this memoir.