Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

When Dan Lyons lost his job at Newsweek, he wound up taking a job at Hubspot, only to find that the web 2.0 tech culture was no match for him. He wondered if it was a match for anyone, save tech pro venture capitalists, toxic bosses, and software companies that sold employee monitoring software. But as he began to promote his book, he found his situation was not so isolated. The business, once the province of nerds and do-gooders, is now run by wealthy money who are intent on building unicorns, with an end game of pulling out as much money as possible. The lowest priority are workers, who are burned out by overwork and toxic cultures and out-gamed by business strategies such as Agile and Lean Startup. Regarding the horrifying treatment of employees, the thinking seems to be that since they will all be replaced by machines eventually, why invest? Lyons finds some companies that are doing the right thing - hiring employees instead of contractors, focusing on real quality-of-life issues instead of ping pong tables, and one VC (Kapor Capital) that even focuses on gap-closing investment. Just one, mind you. Lyons’ reporting is always enjoyable, even when I don’t exactly understand what working with a scrum master is. Let’s hope that Lab Rats inspires less unicorns and more zebras.

— Daniel Goldin


New York Times bestselling author Dan Lyons exposes how the "new oligarchs" of Silicon Valley have turned technology into a tool for oppressing workers in this "passionate" (Kirkus) and "darkly funny" (Publishers Weekly) examination of workplace culture.

At a time of soaring corporate profits and plenty of HR lip service about "wellness," millions of workers--in virtually every industry--are deeply unhappy. Why did work become so miserable? Who is responsible? And does any company have a model for doing it right?

For two years, Lyons ventured in search of answers. From the innovation-crazed headquarters of the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, to a cult-like "Holocracy" workshop in San Francisco, and to corporate trainers who specialize in ... Legos, Lyons immersed himself in the often half-baked and frequently lucrative world of what passes for management science today. He shows how new tools, workplace practices, and business models championed by tech's empathy-impaired power brokers have shattered the social contract that once existed between companies and their employees. These dystopian beliefs--often masked by pithy slogans like "We're a Team, Not a Family"--have dire consequences: millions of workers who are subject to constant change, dehumanizing technologies--even health risks.

A few companies, however, get it right. With Lab Rats, Lyons makes a passionate plea for business leaders to understand this dangerous transformation, showing how profit and happy employees can indeed coexist.

About the Author

Dan Lyons is the New York Times bestselling author of Disrupted. He is also a novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and public speaker. He was a staff writer on the first two seasons of the Emmy-winning 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.

Praise For…

An Inc. Magazine Best
Business Book of 2018

"I loved Dan
Lyons's book Disrupted. With Lab Rats,
he takes his critique of the modern workplace to the next level, to show how
Silicon Valley's sometimes disturbing ideas about how to treat employees now
pervade many workplaces. This is a fascinating, thought-provoking, hilarious,
and sometimes harrowing account of current work culture."—Gretchen Rubin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies

"Dan Lyons's Lab Rats defies
easy description. It is hilarious, but not funny. I sputtered laughing and
choked crying (literally, not figuratively) as I read it. Yes, to an extreme,
Lyons gives Silicon Valley the thrashing that it, alas, largely deserves. But
in the final third of the book, he offers us an effectively illustrated way
out--an approach to work and business that puts people first, profitably serves
customers, and makes the world a little bit better in the process."—Tom Peters, New York Times bestselling author of In Search of Excellence

"[Lyons] argues persuasively.... A passionate indictment
of brutal workplace culture."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] darkly funny journalistic look at the
contemporary workplace.... By turns sardonic and impassioned, this is an
insightful and frequently entertaining guide to the increasingly bizarre world
of Silicon Valley and the trends it spawns."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Product Details
ISBN: 9780316561860
ISBN-10: 031656186X
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: October 23rd, 2018
Pages: 272
Language: English