Disrupted: My Misadventure In the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons (3 out of 5)
I remember this book coming in months ago and it immediately grabbed my attention. Look at that cover! This is out in paperback now. Anyone who wants to read a funny insider look at how the business world eats up and spits you out, this is a good place to start!
Dan Lyons is a 50-something writer at Newsweek magazine when he is let go. There couldn’t be a worse time; Dan’s wife just recently left her job, and they have their twins to raise and the house to keep afloat. Dan gets a job offer from a start-up company, Hubspot. The money is decent, he has health insurance again, and also a ton of shares in the company that could earn him a pretty penny if the company ever went public. Dan knows he is in trouble when his boss isn’t there to greet him on his first day, no one seems to know where he is supposed to go, or even who he is. It gets progressively worse when Dan finds that the business resembles “Animal House” more than any business he’s ever worked for. Millennials rule the roost and treat Dan as if he’s an outsider due to his age. No actual work ever seems to get done. Yet the business continues to say that they’re turning a profit. Co-workers “graduate” (meaning they have been fired, in this sense) with no warning or recourse. The head bigwigs don’t communicate and some seemingly vanish into thin air, only names on a nameplate or emails (Cranium, the man who hires Dan, is a great example). Harassment and outright acerbic email correspondence leads to unprofessional behavior, largely accepted as commonplace, unless it’s Dan doing it, then it’s a strike against his work behavior and reputation. Dan tries his hardest to make the most of a nightmare situation, and the book and Hubspot’s shady business ethics leave the reader hooked until the end. I had wished for Dan to get the credit he deserved and for Hubspot to get their just desserts, but nothing in a start-up bubble is as it seems. He makes the most of it for the reader as well, with a healthy dose of sarcastic humor. Anyone who enjoyed “The Wolf Of Wall Street” and “Liar’s Poker” will enjoy this book. I did, but I was in a state of appalled fury most of it, so I think that demolished some of my enthusiasm for it, too. One thing I can tell you…I don’t look good hopping around with a unicorn mask on. Remember that as you read this. But read it, so you can consider yourself educated on the shenanigans behind a start-up business. Sad but true, these companies do exist. Dan Lyons did a great service enlightening all of us about them.