Read Remark Book Review Plus Infographic - Startup by Doree Shafrir

Book Review plus Infographic: Startup by Doree Shafrir

One-sentence summary:

As Mack McAllister is developing a new multi-million dollar app with a team of up-and-comers at his tech startup, personal foibles threaten the whole venture.


I’m not sure exactly what Startup is supposed to be, but I have two ideas:

  1. It’s a criticism of the millennial-driven tech world, full of self-important, ego-inflated people who have blurred the lines between fun and work and personal life so much that it stunts their growth. The proverbial takeoff becomes a takedown.
  2. It’s a scathing exposure of the sexism that still runs rampant in employment, even among people who claim to be running diverse and equal-opportunity businesses in this new, culturally aware and sensitive world. It’s still very much a boy’s club.

The players of Startup are more caricature than character. Men are creepy, power-hungry harassers. Women are weak, acting to mollify their spouses and superiors. Self-congratulatory employees are more impressed by the company’s complimentary snack bar and Twitter shout-outs than the actual emerging tech.

Startup reads like a cautionary tale against, well, working or starting a tech business or having a relationship or being a female with career ambitions.

Every turn is fraught with drama and personal ruin. I mean come on, they’re creating an app that’s based on feelings (gag).

The founder, Mack, wants to fire a manager at his company because she won’t date him any more. And he’s flummoxed that this behavior isn’t okay. In a pivotal scene, he compares himself to Steve Jobs (First: you, sir, are no Steve Jobs. And second: gag).

The author is in on the joke. These characters aren’t played with tenderhearted earnestness. The technology they’re working on so diligently isn’t making significant advances for humankind. It’s another way to waste time and ignore the people actually with you.

It’s not about becoming centered. It’s about being more self-centered.

I’ll call it a satire and hope I’m right.

Let’s all cringe together and lament the rise of the machines, which will eventually turn sentient and crush us, our complimentary snack bars, and $7 cold-press coffees.

Here’s a handy infographic of similar works you might find interesting:
Read Remark Infographic - Startup Book Recommendations

If you enjoyed Startup, you might also enjoy:

Disrupted (book) by Dan Lyons
In this nonfiction book, Dan Lyons joins a startup much like the one in Startup and finds that being over age 40 equates to being a dinosaur in this unicorn-worshipping community. Do not enter if you need endings full of rainbows and lollipops.

Startup.com (documentary) by D.A. Pennebaker
This documentary shows a prime example of a dot com rising and swiftly falling during the tech bubble of the late 1990s/early 2000s. Lots of interpersonal drama among the “visionary” founders.

The Circle (book) by Dave Eggers
This fascinating book gives a dystopian what-if story of tech companies. This is where all of the starry-eyed idealism becomes maniacal demands to live life on technology’s (or rather, the executive’s) terms.