Recently finished Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up World that details Dan Lyons career shift into the world of start-ups as a 53 year old former journalist at HubSpot. An entertaining read and first hand look into the "smoke and mirrors" of some start-ups. There are a number of quotes that highlight the drive for start-ups to push growth in anyway possible and appease hungry VC's, bankers and angel investors:
“There’s an old expression on Wall Street,” Tad tells me. “‘When the ducks quack, feed them.’ Have you heard that? Back in the nineties investors wanted to buy anything with the word dotcom at the end of its name. So that’s what we gave them. Our job isn’t to talk people out of buying. Our job is to make what people want. Our job is to feed the ducks. And right now, the ducks are hungry.”
The book highlights the cultures surrounding start-ups and the endless thirst for "corporate kool-aid":
Perhaps by accident, or perhaps not, tech companies seem to employ techniques similar to those used by cults, the creation of special language being one example.
Lastly, the exploitation of labor created by start-ups using young and hungry millennials to create wealth for the investors:
This is the New Work, but really it is just a new twist on an old story, the one about labor being exploited by capital. The difference is that this time the exploitation is done with a big smiley face. Everything about this new workplace, from the crazy décor to the change-the-world rhetoric to the hero’s journey mythology and the perks that are not really perks—all of these things exist for one reason, which is to drive down the cost of labor so that investors can maximize their return.
The main takeaway is well timed with the current state of investing in start-ups using the "spray and pray" investment approach of taking many bets in hopes of a win. A few noteworthy lessons backed by stories of a career change gone wrong.