Disrupted (a review)


Following the advice of fellow blogger LivingAFI, I recently read “Disrupted: My misadventure in the start-up bubble” by Dan Lyons. The book is pretty popular so I had to wait for a while (7 weeks) for it to be available at my local library.

Although the company I work for is not a start-up, it shares many of the traits that are described in Dan Lyons’ book. As such, this made it a painfully realistic book for me to read.

For those who don’t know, this is the true story of Dan’s work as an employee of a Silicon Valley start-up, a job he basically hated from start to finish, until he was hired somewhere else (he is now a writer for the brilliant show “Silicon Valley”). The book has hilarious moments, and lots of moments that those of us working for “Silicon Valley” kind of companies can relate to. In particular, the “culture” that is constantly used into brainwashing employees to give their life for the benefit of a handful of executives, or the childish and gimmicky employee benefits (in the book, a wall of candy, nerf gun battles, some musical instruments that nobody ever uses…).

I’d love to compare some of those things to my own company, but in hindsight there are lots of those things that my company is trying to avoid doing, probably as a move to distant itself from the startup “brogrammer” culture that is called out in the book.

The second half of the book kind of gets less interesting than the first half, as it becomes more and more focused on Dan’s understanding that he is way older than the average employee in his company, which leads him to being discriminated. In some of his former colleagues’ defense, even in his own book he cannot totally hide the fact that he is kind of a grumpy person.

Nevertheless, it’s a book many of use in the FIRE community can probably relate to, about how easy it is to end up with a bad manager, or a bad team, or just in a bad company, that will make your life miserable to the point that you’re wondering if there’s any way to exit this game with your sanity preserved. It’s also a lot about how people take their job or company way too seriously, compared to what the company actually does in the grand scheme of things. It’s funny (in a dark kind of way), and in particular if you like the show “Silicon Valley” I can only recommend this book, as clearly some of the best scenes in the show echo directly some of the author’s real-life experience described in the book.

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