SPEAKING

Side headshot cropped squareDan Lyons is a novelist, journalist, blogger, and screenwriter whose work centers around technology and its impact on society. His forthcoming memoir, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Startup Bubble, is a sharp critique of Silicon Valley culture — and was of such concern to his former employer, HubSpot, that executives at the company tried to obtain the manuscript before it was published. They were caught, which led to sanctions, terminations, and an investigation by the FBI. The episode also raised issues about privacy, trust, and online safety.

In recent years Dan has been been a writer on the award-winning HBO comedy series, Silicon Valley. Previously he was a marketing fellow at HubSpot; editor-in-chief of ReadWrite; technology editor of Newsweek; and a technology reporter at Forbes. Dan also created a blog, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, from which he developed a critically acclaimed novel, Options.

Dan has written about consumer tech companies (Apple, Google, social media, mobile computing) as well as fusion energy, supercomputers and artificial intelligence. He has appeared as a guest on CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox Business News and National Public Radio.

His three works of fiction are: Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs,  a satire about Silicon Valley that was published to critical acclaim; Dog Days (a novel) and The Last Good Man (an award-winning collection of short stories).

STARTUP MYTHS

What’s it like to work at a fast-growing high-tech “unicorn” startup? Most of what you read in the tech press makes startup life sound like a blast — foosball, free beer, lots of parties, and then everyone gets rich in an IPO. A kind of mythology has sprung up around startups centered on the figure of the heroic entrepreneur who takes huge risks and changes the world. Dan Lyons believed every bit of that, until he spent two years working at a software startup while the company was ramping up for a billion-dollar IPO, and came away shocked and disillusioned by what he learned on the inside. That experience became the foundation of his riotously entertaining book, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, and also forms the basis of this smart but funny talk, where Dan punctures the myths about startup life and offers insight into the way Silicon Valley companies have changed the way we work. Why do Millennials care more about mission than about money? Why do startups prefer to hire people in their twenties? Do we really expect that people will now change jobs every year or two? Will people now work at twenty different jobs during the course of a career? Is this a good thing? These questions and more are included in this lively talk and lead to an even more lively Q&A session.

Photo: Kim Cook