Dan Lyons went in thinking it would work. A lot of his life of late had not. A veteran tech reporter for Newsweek he was (unwisely and) unceremoniously dumped after the third buyout, conversion, takeover – there’s probably a new name for it this week. Now, at the tender age of post-50, he found himself really needing a job, and one came unto him. He hired on as a content creator for the sort of high-tech startup he used to cover. The company was called Hubspot, and they manufactured marketing software. And, in the hilarious, powerful prose vision of Dan Lyons, the surreal. The outrageous
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons will make you laugh out loud a lot. But it is never less than a crystal clear vision of corporate malfeasance and insanity here in emerging 21st century America. In some ways, it reads like a long-lost Kurt Vonnegut novel. It’s also a clarion-call warning. For all the hilarity (there is a lot of hilarity) and the absurdity, there are many chilling undertones. But make no mistake. This book is always fun to read, even when Lyon is describing despicable behavior that is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
From a first day when he’s not even expected to a first boss who ha barely graduated from college to a stuffed animal to the frat-house feel to the final, chilling acts of fired execs (the FBI got in on the act), Disrupted is always a blast. It’s very, very funny in scenes that are also quite bleak in their implications. Lyons has a talent for creating vivid characters, some of whom get their real names, and a few who get code names, to wit, “Trotsky,” a man who befriends Lyons. Suffice it to say that much of the books aims the engaging storyteller (Lyons) towards a conclusion we all know will Not End Well.
Lyons makes a lot of important points about company culture, frat-house culture, business fads, and the dire state of economic evaluations that turns bratty, smart kids into billionaires. Ageism gets a powerful voice in Lyons, and we’d all be well advised to heed his entertaining words. Open up this book and it’s impossible not to. In fact, the fact that this is a book and not just a blog is sort of retro and that’s the point. These paper things are a five-hundred-plus year-old technology that is still relevant. Humans one-tenth that age might be as well.
Dan Lyons and I had too much fun talking about his book. Here’s a link to the “time to read” executive summary, so you can listen for some seven or eight minutes and then bring it up with friends and pretend you read it.
Or listen here.
Or, listen while you pretend you’re working now!