Author: Dan Lyons
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
A funny and slightly disturbing memoir recounting journalist Dan Lyons’s brief stint at a tech start-up (HubSpot). Lyons spent most of his career as a journalist, reporting on business and technology matters. However, after years as a reporter and in the spate of media outlet downsizing, he finds himself desperate for a job and decides to roll the dice and try a tech start-up (an industry he has long reported on). He brings his keen eye and foreknowledge of technology business to his new job, and what follows is a fish-out of water story that will make any reader over the age of 35 feel old.
Though Lyons writes with humor and sarcasm, he also reveals that the year was a difficult one. On the one hand, he encounters a very young workforce and a cult-like atmosphere where group-speak and HR triteness is engaged in with all seriousness. There is little formal organization and a lack of firm direction, the hierarchy is vague, and the product itself seems less important than the effort to market it.
While one feels for Lyons and the oddness of being thrust into a new environment, you also sometimes come away thinking he brought some of this on himself. I am sympathetic to Lyons and feel the same way about HR sayings and people who drink the proverbial corporate Kook-Aid, but Lyons often does things that are inadvisable and seems oblivious to how they will likely come across. This was clearly a bad fit, but as things get worse at the job he takes the advice of a friend to view the time there as an archaeologist or sociologist studying an ancient civilization or foreign culture. The result is this book. A diverting look at a tech start-up and a bit of a warning to those who might go to work for one or buy stock in an IPO. In short: beware.