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
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.
A Guardian Best Book of 2019
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
"A lively and spirited takedown."
"[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)
"[Lab Rats] exposes the junk science and questionable management
practices that have migrated from Silicon Valley to the rest of the
"Fair warning: you may need an extra set of hands around while you're
reading Lab Rats. You'll need them to help pick your jaw up off the
floor."—Houston Style Magazine
"With Lab Rats, Lyons makes a passionate plea for business leaders to
understand this dangerous transformation and offers a way out."—BookPassage
"This book should be required reading for anybody who thinks working for a startup in Silicon Valley would be fun."—TechNewsWorld
"Skewering corporate jargon, management science, and, worst of all,
enforced fun, Lyons's waggish jeremiad lays out how the world of work
has changed for the worse."—Tatler
"An entertaining polemic against the tech industry.... Instead of
obsessing about unicorns (startup companies worth more than $1 billion),
the author thinks the world should look for 'zebras,' which can turn a
profit and improve society at the same time. Many modern workers will
"Lyons is a very funny journalist... Much of his polemic rings true."—The Financial Times
"Entertaining... A worthwhile and disturbing read."—Sunday Business Post
"Funny and frightening."
"Dan Lyons'... quest to understand the modern workplace has yielded an amusing but often harrowing report from the front lines."—Boston Globe