My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble


By Dan Lyons

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An instant New York Times bestseller, Dan Lyons’ “hysterical” (Recode) memoir, hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “the best book about Silicon Valley,” takes readers inside the maddening world of fad-chasing venture capitalists, sales bros, social climbers, and sociopaths at today’s tech startups.

For twenty-five years Dan Lyons was a magazine writer at the top of his profession–until one Friday morning when he received a phone call: Poof. His job no longer existed. “I think they just want to hire younger people,” his boss at Newsweek told him. Fifty years old and with a wife and two young kids, Dan was, in a word, screwed. Then an idea hit. Dan had long reported on Silicon Valley and the tech explosion. Why not join it? HubSpot, a Boston start-up, was flush with $100 million in venture capital. They offered Dan a pile of stock options for the vague role of “marketing fellow.” What could go wrong?

HubSpotters were true believers: They were making the world a better place … by selling email spam. The office vibe was frat house meets cult compound: The party began at four thirty on Friday and lasted well into the night; “shower pods” became hook-up dens; a push-up club met at noon in the lobby, while nearby, in the “content factory,” Nerf gun fights raged. Groups went on “walking meetings,” and Dan’s absentee boss sent cryptic emails about employees who had “graduated” (read: been fired). In the middle of all this was Dan, exactly twice the age of the average HubSpot employee, and literally old enough to be the father of most of his co-workers, sitting at his desk on his bouncy-ball “chair.”


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Author's Note

I've spent the past decade writing satire about the technology industry—first on a blog, then in a novel, and most recently on a TV show. But nothing I ever dreamed up in those fictional accounts could compare to the ridiculousness I encountered when I took a job at an actual tech company, a software maker called HubSpot. This book is the chronicle of my time at the company, and it's not satire. Everything in Disrupted really happened. With some individuals I have used real names, but in most cases I have invented pseudonyms and nicknames. Some current and former HubSpotters agreed to be interviewed for the book, but only on condition that our conversations remain off the record. Some people were afraid to talk to me at all. At the time I thought their concerns were silly. But as things turned out, those people may have been right to be afraid.

Regarding terminology: When I use the term Silicon Valley I do not mean to denote an actual geographic region—the sixty-mile peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose, where the original technology companies were built. Instead, like Hollywood, or Wall Street, Silicon Valley has become a metaphorical name for an industry, one that exists in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Boston, and countless other places, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area.

The term bubble, as I use it, refers not only to the economic bubble in which the valuation of some tech start-ups went crazy but also to the mindset of the people working inside technology companies, the true believers and Kool-Aid drinkers, the people who live inside their own filter bubble, brimming with self-confidence and self-regard, impervious to criticism, immunized against reality, unaware of how ridiculous they appear to the outside world.

HubSpot, where I worked from April 2013 to December 2014, was part of that bubble. In October 2014, the company floated a successful IPO, and it now has a market value of nearly $2 billion. But this book is about more than HubSpot. This is a story about what it's like to try to reinvent yourself and start a new career in your fifties, particularly in an industry that is by and large hostile to older workers. It's a story about how work itself has changed, and how some companies that claim to be "making the world a better place" are in fact doing the opposite.

Myths and mythmaking are rampant in Silicon Valley. I wrote this book because I wanted to provide a more realistic look at life inside a "unicorn" start-up and to puncture the popular mythology about heroic entrepreneurs. HubSpot's leaders were not heroes, but rather a pack of sales and marketing charlatans who spun a good story about magical transformational technology and got rich by selling shares in a company that still has never turned a profit.

At the heart of the book is my own sometimes painful and humbling journey of self-discovery, as I attempted to transform myself from a journalist into a marketing professional at a software start-up. My hope is that my story offers an overdue behind-the-scenes look at life inside a start-up during a period when the tech industry had temporarily lost its mind—and when I, for better or worse, did the same.


Beached White Male

Nine months earlier, it's the summer of 2012, and life is good. I'm fifty-one years old, happily settled into married life in a suburb of Boston, with two young kids and a job I love. At Newsweek, I get paid to meet amazing people and write about subjects that fascinate me: fusion energy, education reform, supercomputing, artificial intelligence, robotics, the rising competitiveness of China, the global threat of state-sponsored hacking. To me, Newsweek is more than a company—it's an institution. And being a magazine writer seems like the very best job in the world.

Then one day, without warning, it all just ends. It's a Friday morning in June. The kids are at school. I'm sitting with my wife, Sasha, at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and going over the plans for our upcoming vacation, a three-week trip to Austria. It's a bit of a splurge for us, but by using frequent flyer miles and staying in modest hotels we can just about afford it. Our kids—twins, a boy and a girl—are turning seven in a few weeks, and they're finally old enough to handle an adventure. Sasha has just left her teaching job, because she's been suffering from chronic migraines and spending too much time in emergency rooms. She needs time off to take care of herself. A few weeks in the Alps seems like a good way to start. We'll miss her paycheck, and her insurance, which is first-rate, but I can get decent insurance from Newsweek, and in addition to my salary I've been making some money on the side by giving speeches.

So we're good. Sasha can quit her job and we can still afford the vacation. It's all going to be great. That's what we're telling each other as we pull up the website for one place where we'll be staying, a cluster of chalets perched on a hillside in a remote village surrounded by mountains. A local guide takes tourists on day hikes and offers a rock-climbing class for kids. A nearby stable offers trail rides on sturdy little Haflinger horses with shaggy blond manes. We leave in three weeks.

My phone beeps. It's an email from my editor, Abby. She wants to know if I can get on the phone. I go upstairs to my office and call her at the office in New York. I figure Abby wants to give me an update on the tech blog we're launching. But unfortunately that's not it at all.

"I have some bad news," she says. "They're making some cuts. Your job is being eliminated."

I'm not quite sure what to say. On the one hand this should not come as a surprise. Newsweek has been losing money for years. Two years ago the magazine was sold to a new owner, who promised to turn things around. Instead we are losing more money today than we were two years ago. Subscribers and advertisers are drifting away. I suppose some part of me has been expecting this call. Still, I wasn't expecting to get it today.

Abby says it wasn't her decision to fire me. I ask her whose it was. She says she doesn't know. But someone, somewhere, has made a decision. Abby is simply the messenger. There's nothing she can do, and no one to whom I can appeal. This is obvious bullshit. Abby knows who made the decision. I'm betting it was Abby herself.

Abby is an old-time Newsweek person. She left the magazine before I joined, but three months ago she was recruited to come back as the executive editor. I was overjoyed when I found out I would be reporting to her. We're old friends. We've known each other for twenty years. As soon as she arrived we started talking about launching a tech blog, which I would run. I figured I would have a year, maybe more, to get the blog off the ground. That's why I thought my job was secure and why I am now sitting here, staring out my window, feeling as if I have been clubbed over the head.

"I think they just want to hire younger people," Abby says. "They can take your salary and hire five kids right out of college."

"Sure." I'm not angry. I'm just dumbfounded. "I get it."

From outside comes the roar of a lawnmower. I glance out the window and see that the guys who mow our lawn have arrived in their truck. I make a mental note that this is one small luxury that we now will have to live without, because surely an unemployed man cannot pay someone else to mow his lawn. I'm not even finished getting fired yet and I'm already thinking about ways to save money. Should we get rid of cable TV? Will we stop going out to dinner? Can we still go to Austria?

Abby says she really likes me, and this was a really hard phone call for her to make, and she hates to do this because we've known each other for so long, and nobody ever wants to call up their friend and tell them this. In a way I actually start to feel bad for her, even though I'm the one getting fired.

I tell her I understand. I'm a business reporter, after all. This is the stuff I write about—legacy companies getting disrupted by new technologies, slowly going under, laying off workers. If I were running a magazine that was losing money, I would be looking to cut costs, too. I'd get rid of the expensive old guys and hire a bunch of hungry young kids. It makes sense.

I went into this job knowing that it probably wouldn't last forever. Back in 2008, when I joined, Newsweek veterans were being offered buyouts and early retirement packages. And it wasn't just Newsweek. Newspapers and magazines were dying out all over the place, disrupted by the Internet. Despite all that, Newsweek was still an amazing place, and even if the magazine only had a few years left in it, I still wanted to work there.

Now, on this sunny Friday morning, it's over.

My last day will be in two weeks, Abby says. I will get no severance package, just two weeks of pay and whatever vacation time I'm owed. At the end of two weeks I'll also lose my health insurance, but the HR people will help me figure out how to set up COBRA to continue my benefits.

Some of my colleagues who left when the magazine was sold in 2010 received packages equal to a year's salary. I'd expected that if or when I got cut, I'd be given enough severance to provide a cushion. Two weeks seems inordinately harsh. I try to bargain. I ask Abby if they will keep me on for six months while I look for a new job. That will let me save face and make it easier for me to find my next job. Sorry, she tells me, but no. I offer to take a pay cut. That won't fly either, she says. How about I take a different job, I say. It doesn't have to be much, but it will keep me on staff, with benefits, while I look for something else.

Abby is not having any of it.

"Abby, I have kids." There's a quaver in my voice. I take a breath. I don't want to sound panicked. "I've got twins. They're six years old."

She says she's sorry, she understands, but there's nothing she can do.

I tell her that my wife has just left her teaching job. I've just finished sending in the paperwork to move us from Sasha's insurance to the insurance plan offered by Newsweek. The HR department at Newsweek must be aware of this. That was the "qualifying life event" that enabled us to join the Newsweek health plan outside of the annual open enrollment period.

"Look," I say, "if you can just push back my end date and keep me on for a few months, I'll at least be able to keep my health insurance, and I promise I'll get another job and get out of here."

But Abby, my old friend, a woman I've known since we were both in our twenties and starting out in the journalism business, says no, she can't do it. In two weeks I'm done, and that's that.

I hang up the phone, go downstairs, and tell Sasha what just happened. She's stunned. Wasn't I just telling her that it was safe for her to quit her job, because my Newsweek job was secure?

"I thought Abby was your friend," Sasha says.

"I thought so, too."

Sasha still has the vacation folder with the brochures and plane tickets and hotel and car rental confirmations out on the table.

"Maybe we should cancel the trip," she says.

There's no sense in that, I tell her. Some of the money has already been spent, in deposits that we can't get back. "We should go," I say. "We'll go, and we'll use the time to think about what we're going to do next. We can do anything, right? We can start over. We can move someplace new. It's a fresh start."

I talk about Vermont. We're always saying how cool it would be to live there. Our friends did that—one day they sold everything and moved to Vermont. They love it! Or there's Boulder. Or Bozeman. We could live in the Rocky Mountains! We should make a list of the best places to live, rent a Winnebago, visit each one, and then decide. We could spend the whole summer traveling around the country! We could see the Grand Canyon, and Zion, and Yellowstone, and Yosemite. In a way this whole thing is a gift. Because now we have all this free time! When are we ever going to have a chance like this again?

Sasha knows that I'm full of shit, and she also knows I'm panicking, because this is what I do when I'm panicking—I talk and talk and talk. But even as I'm reeling through my list of fantasy mountain towns where I can wear plaid shirts and drive a pickup truck and grow a beard, Sasha has arrived at the truth of our situation, which she feels the need to explain to me, as if by speaking the words out loud she might feel more in control of the situation.

"Let's just talk about where we are right now," she says. She's working hard to remain calm. "The reality is that I just quit my job, and I can't get that job back. They've already hired someone else. And now you've been fired."

"Laid off," I say, because that sounds better.

"Point is, we're both unemployed, and we have six-year-old twins, and no health insurance, and no income. And we're about to go on a really expensive vacation."

"Well," I say, "when you put it like that."

"How else would you put it?"

I launch back into my spiel about moving to the mountains, but she cuts me off. None of that is going to happen, and we both know it. We're not going to spend the summer cruising around the United States in a Winnebago like the Griswolds on some zany adventure.

"Look," I say, "I'll get another job. I'm going to start hitting the phone today. Right now. I'm going to email everyone I know. I've got a bunch of speeches booked, which should keep us going into the fall. And I can pick up some freelance work."

I'm trying to sound confident. But the truth is that I'm fifty-one years old and I have never gone looking for a job before. I've always had a job and then moved to a better one. I've never had to call my friends and ask them to keep me in mind if they hear of anything. I've always been the guy on the other end of that call, and I've always felt bad for those friends who were calling me. Sure, I told them, I'll pass the word around. I'll keep an eye open. I'm sure you'll find something.

But we all know the reality of our situation. Every year there are fewer jobs in journalism. It's a game of musical chairs, with a bunch of laid-off old hacks running around and fighting over the few remaining seats.

Things are even worse if you're over fifty. In what now seems like a cruel irony, I learned about this by reading my own magazine. In 2011, Newsweek published a cover story with the attention-grabbing headline THE BEACHED WHITE MALE. The cover depicted a middle-aged white guy in a suit, soaking wet, facedown on a beach at the water's edge—maybe not dead, but definitely washed up.

The article described a whole generation of once-successful men who, having been laid off during the recession, or "Mancession," as the magazine dubbed it, were now shuffling around in their bathrobes, stunned, emasculated, psychologically destroyed, humiliated in front of their wives and children, drifting through life like castrated zombies. In the new economy, age fifty was the new sixty-five. Hit fifty, and your company would find an excuse to fire you, and good luck trying to find another job. As for filing an age discrimination suit: Forget about it. You wouldn't stand a chance. Even if you won your lawsuit, you'd never work again.

I'd read the article when it came out, but it hadn't bothered me too much. I figured that somehow I was immune to this. Newsweek wasn't doing well, but as long as the magazine remained in business, surely they would need a technology reporter?

Apparently not. Because suddenly, on this lovely sunny day in June, as I sit in my kitchen waiting for my kids to come home from school, wondering if I should tell them what happened and, if so, how best to present the news—right now I am no longer the technology editor of Newsweek. Instead, I am that guy on the cover of Newsweek: facedown on a beach, soaking wet, possibly dead. I am a Beached White Male.

I started working in newspapers in 1983, while I was still in college. After graduation I didn't know what else to do, so I just kept working at newspapers. I thought about law school and business school, but didn't have the heart for either. Originally I had been headed toward medicine, but I had fallen off the track and it seemed too late to start over. Newspapering didn't seem like much of a career. It seemed like something to do until you discovered a career, or, as one of my reporter friends, a Brit with a background on Fleet Street, once told me: "It beats working for a living." At some point I realized that I been working as a reporter long enough that journalism had become my career. It felt almost accidental.

In 1987, a friend of mine talked me into joining him at a newspaper aimed at the computer industry called PC Week, which was based in Boston. In those days Boston still had a lot of high-tech companies. I didn't know anything about computers, but nobody else did, either. The personal computer was still a relatively new thing. We were getting in on the ground floor of what would become a huge new market.

In the 1980s Silicon Valley technology companies were boring places where engineers worked in drab office parks writing software or designing semiconductors and circuit boards and network routers. There weren't any celebrities, other than Steve Jobs at Apple, and even he wasn't such a big deal back then. In the early 1990s the Internet era began, and Silicon Valley changed. The new companies were flimsy, based on hype and grandiose rhetoric and the promise of making a fortune overnight. The dotcom boom of the late 1990s was followed by the dotcom bust, and then came a period when Silicon Valley felt like a ghost town. Slowly, a new generation of Internet-related companies arose, and while this second boom wasn't a direct copy of the first one, there were some worrisome similarities, chief among them the fact that none of these companies seemed to be generating a profit. They were all losing money, and some were losing shocking amounts—billions of dollars, in some cases—and nobody seemed to mind.

I covered the first dotcom bubble and crash as a reporter at Forbes. Those years have turned out in retrospect to have been a kind of golden age not just for Forbes but for magazines in general. Magazine writers didn't get rich, but we made a good living, and the perks were amazing. We traveled the world, stayed in first-class hotels, and partied on the Highlander, Malcolm Forbes's superyacht, with rock stars and heads of state. During my years at Forbes I met my wife, Sasha, and in 2005 we had twins, a boy and a girl. After spending my twenties and thirties bouncing around like a nomad, I settled down in my forties, with a good job and a new family.

In 2006 I created a blog called The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, where I wrote in a persona called Fake Steve Jobs. The idea was to satirize not just Jobs himself but all of Silicon Valley. I wrote the blog anonymously, and the mystery added to its appeal. Pretty soon it was attracting 1.5 million readers a month.

The blog depicted Jobs as an insufferable, insecure megalomaniac who had turned himself into the leader of a weird cult based around electronics. Jobs ranted and cursed at the people around him; he went drunk-driving with Bono and smashed into other drivers; he threw scalding tea on his long-suffering assistant; he got into trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission and lied to investigators; he visited sweatshops in China where children made iPhones and came away feeling that he was the victim. With Sting, he traveled to the Peruvian rain forest, where they tripped on ayahuasca and ended up hugging and sobbing on a mud floor. He and his best friend, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, drove to the Tenderloin in San Francisco and fired water cannons at transvestite hookers. They made prank phone calls, dialing a local Thai restaurants to order "penis sauce" or calling a hardware store in the Castro section of San Francisco to inquire about black caulk.

Eventually I got caught. A reporter at the New York Times figured out who was writing the Fake Steve blog and confronted me, and I came clean. There were profiles about me all over the place, from the New York Times to Der Spiegel in Germany and El Mundo in Spain. Conferences started inviting me to give speeches. Then I got hired at Newsweek, which led to even more speaking engagements, and I was on TV all the time, opining on Fox Business or CNBC or Al Jazeera. I published a Fake Steve novel, sold the rights to a Hollywood production company, and found myself in Los Angeles, developing a cable TV comedy while still working at Newsweek.

Then things went south. My cable TV show got killed before it even got off the ground. The Washington Post, which had owned Newsweek since 1961, sold the magazine to a new owner. The new owner merged Newsweek with a website called the Daily Beast, whose brilliant but crazy editor, Tina Brown, became the editor of Newsweek. Most of my colleagues left or got booted out. I hung on, but things were chaotic. People came and went. During the next two years I had a half dozen editors. Sometimes I had no editor at all and just floated around, trying to place stories into the magazine. It was not a happy time, but I kept hoping that things would turn around.

In March 2012, that seemed to happen. My old pal Abby was hired back and installed as the executive editor, and I was reporting to her. My job, which had felt precarious under the new ownership, began to feel secure. Finally, I had an ally, a friend in New York who would look out for me. That was a foolish thing to believe.


When the Ducks Quack

Losing my job sends me into a tailspin. On the surface I'm okay, or at least I am trying very hard to pretend to be okay. Inside I feel like I'm barely holding it together, even with daily doses of Ativan. "You'll land on your feet," people keep telling me, and I want to believe them, but as time goes by I'm not sure. So far I've had a disastrous interview at a big PR firm, with a vice president who invited me down to New York, kept me waiting for an hour, then told me that he didn't like to hire journalists. At Forbes, an editor who less than a year ago was trying to poach me away from Newsweek now offers me a contract job that pays $32,000 a year and carries no health benefits. At night I lie awake in bed, unable to sleep, secretly afraid that I might never get hired again.

That Newsweek story about "beached white males" wasn't a work of fiction. I know guys my age whose careers are over. They're in their early fifties and once held senior-level positions, and then got downsized only to discover that no one wants them. Those guys have all been where I am now—freshly out of work, still hopeful, going on interviews. But six months goes by, and then a year, and at some point people stop taking your calls. I'm not there yet. I've landed some freelance work, I'm still making money doing speaking gigs, and my lecture agent has promised that he will try to keep me working, but he also has warned me that without the word Newsweek in front of my name those speaking gigs are probably going to dry up. What happens then? Sure, we have savings. But those won't last forever. For now we're doing our best to economize.

The kids know what's going on. We don't talk about it a lot around them, but I have to say something. I don't know if talking makes things better or worse. I get the sense that they are a bit freaked out, especially my son. He's a sensitive kid. One night when I'm putting him to bed I recognize something in his eyes that I've never seen before—it's not that he's scared, it's that he knows what I'm going through and he feels sorry for me. It's almost too much to take. "Come here, dude," I say, and I give him a hug and try to make him laugh, and he does laugh, and I laugh, too, but I'm also trying not to cry. I realize that the way he sees me now is different from the way he saw me before. For the rest of my life I'm going to remember that flash of pity in his eyes. That look is going to haunt me. I need a job. Any job.

Soon enough, I get one. This happens in September 2012. It's not a great job. It's not even a good one. There are a lot of drawbacks, chief among them that the job will take me away from home, but I don't hesitate. I jump on it. Suddenly I am the editor-in-chief of a struggling technology news website called ReadWrite, a tiny blog with three full-time employees and a half-dozen woefully underpaid freelancers. ReadWrite is based in San Francisco, which means I fly out on Monday and take a redeye back to Boston on Thursday or Friday. On weeks when I'm not in San Francisco I'm either in New York, where ReadWrite's parent company is based, or in some other city, making sales calls, trying to get tech companies to buy ads from us. It's not a lot of fun, but I'm making a paycheck and keeping my eyes open for something better.

ReadWrite's offices are on Townsend Street, in the South of Market neighborhood, where all of the hot tech start-ups are located—Twitter, Uber, Dropbox, Airbnb. While the rest of the country is still licking its wounds from the worst recession in nearly a century, things here are buzzing. Start-ups are everywhere, and they're all raising money.

For a few years after the stock market crash in 2008, it was impossible for companies to pull off initial public offerings of stock. Without IPOs, the venture capital firms that put money into start-ups could not get a return on their investments, so venture funding fell off. But now things are loosening up. In May 2011, LinkedIn, a social network, went public and saw its shares more than double in their first day of trading. Later in 2011 Groupon and Zynga floated the biggest IPOs since Google in 2004. In May 2012 Facebook went public, in the biggest IPO in the history of the tech industry, one that placed a value of more than $100 billion on the social network that Mark Zuckerberg had started on a lark in his Harvard dorm room eight years before.


  • New York Times bestseller
    Wall Street Journal bestseller
    San Francisco Chronicle bestseller
  • "Using his trademark wit and clear-eyed analysis, Dan Lyons has delivered a much-needed referendum on the current state of Silicon Valley. In wildly entertaining fashion, Disrupted explores the ways in which many technology companies have come to fool the public and themselves. Lyons has injected a dose of sanity into a world gone mad."—Ashlee Vance, New York Times-bestselling author of Elon Musk
  • "Dan 'Fake Steve' Lyons runs such a savage burn on his ex-employer, HubSpot, that the smoke can be seen clear across the country in Silicon Valley. Disrupted is fun, compulsively readable and just might tell us something important about the hypocrisy and cult-like fervor inside today's technology giants."—Brad Stone, New York Times-bestselling author of The Everything Store
  • "Dan Lyons goes deep inside a company that uses terms like 'world class marketing thought leaders' to show us how ridiculous, wasteful, and infantile tech start-ups like this can be. And best of all, Lyons does this with his trademark pejorative and hilarious tone."—Nick Bilton, New York Times technology columnist
  • "Troubling but funny ... [a] coolly observant book ... [with] a splendidly weird coda ... You couldn't have written a tastier ending, even for HBO."—Dwight Garner, New York Times
  • "Disrupted by Dan Lyons is the best book about Silicon Valley today.... Simultaneously hilarious and terrifying, Disrupted is an insider's look at a technology start-up from an outsider's perspective. Yet it's more than a chronicle of Lyons' tenure at one company, but a broader commentary on a business culture that often appears to be built on financial quicksand."—Los Angeles Times
  • "As the writer behind the satirical blog Fake Steve Jobs, [Lyons] could not have imagined a place so ripe for parody as HubSpot. Every detail of the hip office space, incompetent management, and delusional workforce described by Lyons in his hilarious and unsettling exposé is like something out of a scripted comedy (the author writes for HBO's Silicon Valley) ... An exacting, excoriating takedown of the current startup 'bubble' and the juvenile corporate culture it engenders."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Scathingly funny .... Like the show 'Silicon Valley,' Disrupted nails the workings of spastic, hypocritical, delusional tech culture."—New York Post
  • "Laugh-out-loud funny."—Newsweek
  • "Read this book if you work or invest in tech and, in particular, tech startups. And not just for the tales of corporate intrigue, hypocrisy, and ridiculousness that have caused HubSpot and its allies to get so hot under their collective collar.... [Lyons] makes a strong case for how all of that young labor, when increasingly wrapped up into an over-arching 'corporate culture,' creates subtle age discrimination that these employees won't recognize for years to come. This not only is a real (albeit virtually ignored) issue at tech companies today, but is going to become a much larger one as digital natives continue to age."—Dan Primack, Fortune.com
  • "Hilarious and eye-opening."—Business Insider
  • "It would be incomplete to classify Disrupted as merely an Office Space-esque critique of Corporate America. It also serves as social commentary about the way that more senior employees are viewed and valued in a hyper-aggressive startup culture hell bent on an IPO. In other words, you will both laugh and think. I consumed the book in less than a day and highly recommend it to people curious about what could very well happen to them."—Phil Simon, The Huffington Post
  • "Disrupted provides an eye-opening and gut-busting account of the maddening world of startup excess, hubris and groupthink from the unique perspective of a prominent technology reporter and satirist who was inexplicably hired and given a front row seat to the lunacy."—Mashable
  • "A juicy read.... Disrupted is worth a read for its exploration of startup culture and its effect on labor....The book made me fearful of the fact that startup culture--from Google-style perks and zero work-life balance to corporate cheerleading and a cult-like devotion to the 'mission'--has become aspirational to many corporations. The ways in which the worst parts of startup culture benefit managers and investors while making workers disposable are particularly scary, and Lyons attacks that issue in a compelling way.... Disrupted is a foil to all those awful books that make sweeping generalizations about how to work with millennials."—Erin Griffith, Fortune.com
  • "Lyons finds the right company, if only for the raw material that he, a seasoned satirist, spins into gold.... But the book is not just a chronicle of the tech bubble's silly quirks.... Lyons uses the lens of his growing disillusionment to focus a broader critique of Silicon Valley."—Financial Times
  • "An often-delightful tour through startup culture... But there are parts of his book that should send shivers down the spine of anyone who uses the Internet."—Harvard Business Review
  • "The tech industry needs more writers like Lyons who are willing to probe its hyperbole, the ridiculous valuations, injustices and inconsistencies."—MarketWatch
  • "Hilarious... A must-read, not just in the real Silicon Valley but also on Wall Street... A highly entertaining, highly troubling tale of greed, graft, possible extortion, marketing nonsense, #content, incompetent bozos, investor hype, the impossibly wealthy and a man just looking to make his cut. That, folks, isn't just the Silicon Valley dream. It's the American dream."—Chris Taylor, Mashable ("Geek Book of the Week")
  • "This humorous and well-crafted memoir is part of a proud literary tradition: the disgruntled ex-employee tell-all. It's a genre that includes classic nonfiction accounts such as John DeLorean's On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors (detailing the carmaker's decline in the 1970s) and Michael Lewis's Liar's Poker (describing life at Salomon Brothers during the 1980s boom)."—Harvard Business Review
  • "Disrupted...offers an unvarnished insider's view of a tech startup.... That makes the book a must-read for anyone who works at a tech startup or wants to create one, in the same vein that books like One L became mandatory reading for soon-to-be law students.... A delightful portal into the world of a tech startup."—Lilly Rockwell, Austin American-Statesman
  • "[Lyons's] artful reporting from the inside makes for a funny and thoughtful account of the current culture surrounding technology startups. But in addition to entertainment, Lyons's book is also flush with analysis of those the entrepreneurs that founded these companies and the myriad firms that fund them."—The Atlantic

On Sale
Mar 7, 2017
Page Count
272 pages
Hachette Books

Dan Lyons

About the Author

Dan Lyons is a novelist, journalist, and screenwriter. He is currently a co-producer and -writer for the HBO series Silicon Valley. Previously, Lyons was technology editor at Newsweek and the creator of the groundbreaking viral blog “The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs” (AKA “Fake Steve Jobs”). Lyons has written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Wired. He lives in Winchester, MA.

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