Friday, August 25, 2017

Disrupted

Tech unicorns that can't turn a profit are everywhere you look, getting substantial valuations by both market and venture capital investors. Dan Lyons is a fifty-something laid-off reporter that went to work at one of these wonder-companies in the hopes of cashing in like so many have done. Things did not go as planned. In Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, he tells the tale.

From my perspective Lyons seemed to have a closed mind about the place from the start. Things that were different from his previous work environment, like say the types of employee perks, seemed to be targets of his scorn. He appears to yearn for a work environment that he is used to having, making frequent references to how things used to be at [insert previous job here]. But of course the work environment he's used to is dramatically different than that of the generation before his, but he doesn't really think about that. In that respect, he comes across as a "get off my lawn" old-guy archetype.

On the other hand, he also raises some interesting points about a lot of the problems at these young tech firms. He provides a decent amount of evidence that age discrimination is a thing. There's also way too much money wasted, and some serious management problems. I agree with his assertion that it certainly feels like another tech bubble, the way investors reward these companies despite their lack of profits.

It sounds like it was a difficult period for the author. But it's also his fault. He earned a pretty good salary for a few decades (I would guess in the 10th percentile), but when he lost his job somehow he had to degrade himself by going to work for these 20-something-year-olds in a culture where he was a fish out of water. It doesn't surprise me, but it still bewilders me that people don't save/invest most of what they earn at those income levels...a simple index fund would have made this guy the boss of his own life!

Of one thing there is no doubt, and that is that Lyons is an excellent writer. He writes clearly and concisely and is hilarious, making it easy to breeze through the book. If this is a topic you want to learn more about, I highly recommend the book.

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