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The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network

3.28  ·  Rating Details ·  554 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
Kate Losse was a grad school refugee when she joined Facebook as employee #51 in 2005. Hired to answer user questions such as “What is a poke?” and “Why can’t I access my ex-girlfriend’s profile?” her early days at the company were characterized by a sense of camaraderie, promise, and ambition: Here was a group of scrappy young upstarts on a mission to rock Silicon Valley ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Free Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kara
Aug 16, 2012 Kara rated it liked it
Real rating: 3.5 stars

What drew me to this book? Let's see...a recent English major grad joins the fledgling customer support team for a social network that just reached 5 million users? Sound familiar, Kara?

Though I could relate to some of the customer support stories, that's pretty much where the similarities end. Losse depicts Facebook as a fairly blatant [24-year-old] Old Boys Club, complete with graffiti of large-breasted women on the walls and a caste system based on technical knowledge. A
...more
Hristina Petrov
Sep 04, 2016 Hristina Petrov rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, non-fiction
This is such an interesting read, a glimpse behind the scenes, so unexpected. I enjoyed it quite a lot.
Sara Watson
Oct 21, 2013 Sara Watson rated it really liked it
Today I joined in for #24hourbooclub's distributed reading experiment to read Katherine Losse's The Boy Kings. It was a fun day, and I always enjoy the shared reading experience and the excuse to power through because I know others are there with me doing it to. Here are some immediate quick thoughts, post-run contemplation.

Reading Losse’s opening introduction to her discovery of Facebook, I was immediately taken back to my Freshman dorm room and the Dell desktop on which I first read about and
...more
Monica
Jan 17, 2013 Monica rated it liked it
This is more like a 2.5 stars than a 3.

Where The Social Network tells the story of Facebook through the detached lens of a legal proceeding, The Boy Kings tells the story of FB through the first-person career-climb narrative of FB employee, Kate Losse. I liked the "inside story" for what it was. I also liked the personal story of a young woman out of college making it in the big boys' world all the while making fun of the big boys for their inability to stop being big boys. But, the repetitious
...more
Anne
Jan 03, 2013 Anne rated it it was ok
Sad. I look at FB as a fun, interesting way to stay in touch with friends.

Katherine Losse's "The Boy Kings" unfolded a story about "conquering" at any cost. A "Boys Club of Hackers and Elite Engineers from Ivy League Schools." Company before Country.........men in expensive suits waiting to invest money in the next big thing. The myth, that no one has access to our private information.....except for employees that work within the confines of FB.

So her others (including the founder) took her to
...more
Meave
Jun 28, 2012 Meave rated it really liked it
This is pretty fascinating stuff. I wish it'd been longer, more detailed, by which I mean MORE GOSSIP, but it's not really a tale-telling book. It's more of a meditation of her time at Facebook, how she thought and felt about it and how those thoughts and feelings changed as the company did. I mean, there are some good stories, but the focus is on her personal journey through a very strange place. Again, I wish it had been longer, but she gets a lot into 250-odd pages, and it's definitely worth ...more
Susanna
Aug 03, 2012 Susanna rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Boring and pretentious. The only real conclusion I drew from it is that everyone who works for Facebook is an insufferable asshole, but I already suspected as much.
Margot
Dec 19, 2012 Margot rated it it was ok
Oh, my. This was not a pleasurable read. Losse presents herself to the reader as a disinterested outsider, as if she went into this venture ("journey into the heart" of Facebook) with eyes wide open and almost as an undercover consumer advocate of some kind. Of course she was just young, out of work with an english graduate degree, and needed a job. The idea to write about her experiences apparently didn't occur to her until toward the end of her tenure in the boy empire.

And of course the subjec
...more
Chris O'Brien
Aug 21, 2012 Chris O'Brien added it
Shelves: 2012
Was this the worst book I've ever read? It's hard to say for sure. But from the opening pages, I felt a strange tingle of excitement with the growing realization of the awfulness of it. So bad was this book that I perversely could not stop reading it. In the intro, the author makes sweeping generalizations how people her age, her generation feel about this or that. She uses her own feelings as a proxy for everyone her age group. And every gesture someone makes is loaded with greater significance ...more
Louise
Nov 14, 2013 Louise rated it liked it
I'm guilty of not paying attention to this book when it came out and only giving it a second look when that David Eggers book was released. This book turned out to be better than I thought, but it's not without its faults.

Written in the perspective of a woman working in customer service during the early days of Facebook, it was different from something I would usually read. Maybe I'm showing my engineering bias here, but I thought she had too big of a chip on her shoulder about being 1.) a woman
...more
Wendy P
Jul 10, 2012 Wendy P rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012


More like 2.5 stars. I really was hoping for a nuanced examination of Facebook and in particular Mark Zuckerberg. Losse had the ability to write so much more. Perhaps she was restrained by contracts she had signed, but this book largely fails. She attempts to write a anthropological and sociological exposé on Facebook, using her Johns Hopkins degree(which she never lets you forget she has) but as an English MA, she is ill-equipped to do a real analysis. Instead we get stories, with ill placed t
...more
Anna Lisa
May 02, 2013 Anna Lisa rated it it was ok
The overwhelming feeling I got while reading this book was that Loss suffers from being in love with the sound of her own voice, a no-no for someone like me, who went to one of the best journalism schools in the country where that bad habit was derided. Some of her insights into Facebook were indeed interesting, but Losse's experience there wasn't enough to stretch to a 200+ page book. Her attempt to fill the narrative with her observations about how technology affects the way people relate to e ...more
Melissa Mcmasters
Jun 21, 2014 Melissa Mcmasters rated it it was ok
I sought this book out because I read Katherine Losse's article "Feminism's Tipping Point: Who Wins from Leaning In?" (http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online...) This article finally fleshed out just what was bothering me about "Lean In": the whole initiative seems to benefit corporations more than it benefits individual women. I had hoped this book would provide a similar level of insight to the article, but it was largely a memoir in need of an editor, with some interesting anecdotes sprinkled ...more
Danny
Jul 09, 2012 Danny rated it did not like it
It reads as a boring memoir intertwined with a highfalutin (had to look that bad boy up) opinion about how technology is ruining real personal connection.
Will
Jan 21, 2014 Will rated it liked it
Recommended to Will by: Louise
Overall, this was a quick read, and a fairly entertaining one. Definitely made me nostalgic for working at an early stage startup.

I do have some gripes with the book. I felt like the author kind of has a chip on her shoulder because of her background in liberal arts and her entry through a less prestigious (customer support) job. I have some of the same things in my background, but since I work more on the tech side, I guess my perspectives are a little different.

It's annoying that she can't qui
...more
Sarah
May 01, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
I have a complicated reaction to this book. It was generally interesting and some parts were actually spot on. For example her explanation of valuation of your worth as an employee really clarified for me something I wasn't able to put into words before. However, generally I didn't feel like the book had a strong message because it tried to do too many things at once. Part of the book was trying to point out that a bunch of guys who know nothing about being social were making their tech toys and ...more
Jack Waters
Dec 31, 2013 Jack Waters rated it it was amazing
A female in California inherits high-stake responsibilities and plumbs the depths of a network, feeling her way along a journey of curiosity and discovery with major implications.

This describes Oedipa Maas, the protagonist of Thomas Pynchon’s wonderful novel, “The Crying of Lot 49.”

It also describes Kate Losse, Employee #51 of Facebook. It’s no surprise that Kate Losse’s Twitter bio reads “IRL Oedipa Maas” and that she makes a handful of Pynchon references throughout the text.

It’s great that an
...more
Erhardt
Nov 09, 2013 Erhardt rated it it was ok
This is Katherine Losse's memoir about working at Facebook. It's a fascinating look into the personal politics and ideologies of Facebook and Silicon Valley. She is employee 51 at the company, working in customer service after seeking a change of pace following her disenchantment with the PhD in English she was pursuing. She works her way up, playing the game and buying into the mission, and eventually tops out as Mark Zuckerberg's ghost writer. Zuck, Sheryl Sandberg, Dustin Moskovitz all show u ...more
Cheryl
Oct 14, 2012 Cheryl rated it really liked it
As I started to write this, I finally paid attention to the subtitle, and thought "Perfect." The way this book is written reflects exactly that: the heart. This book is courageously and carefully written, and offers the point of view that I often wondered about. I really liked it.
I also had to often pause and think of the contrast between my father's work life (going to work 8-4:30 everyday, half hour for lunch, if that, wearing a suit and a tie, shoes polished, overcoat and hat, offering respec
...more
pinktheory
Jul 04, 2012 pinktheory rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an interesting read. I would actually give it 3.5 stars if I could. Katherine chronicles her five years at Facebook and the early startup years resemble the working environment portrayed in Mad Men. It is not a tell-all book by any means. It is more of a memoir of the author's life while at FB and the constant inner struggle she had to "dominate" (as Zuckerberg often said at weekly meetings) and remain a humanist while employed there. Amidst this inner struggle, Losse provides interesti ...more
Peter
Aug 07, 2012 Peter rated it it was ok


While it was interesting to get an inside view into the early days of Facebook, I didn't care for the author's point of view. She writes with a holier than thou attitude, like she's the babysitter in a room full of children, which I found really off-putting. The fact of the matter is that she was right there in the trenches with those childish engineers, and shaped Facebook into what it is right along with them.

She plays the game for a few years, and then decides that she needs to save her soul
...more
Crowjonah
Mar 09, 2014 Crowjonah rated it it was ok
I care less about Mark Zuckerberg than I do Dave Eggers, which is not much. The book's unfruitful preoccupation with linearity made for flawed pacing, and otherwise felt oversimplified and impersonal. It's weird to have approached a book assuming that it would contain so much tempered bitterness and been right. With a little more narrative distance, I can see this having held weight as an insightful critique, and with less detachment, the relationships might have felt compellingly fraught. Inste ...more
Valerie
Jan 02, 2016 Valerie rated it it was amazing
A really fun and fascinating read about one woman's perspective of working at Facebook in its early days. Ms Losse really got me thinking about social media and all of its implications, with some great insight into the creative minds behind Facebook.
Alexa
Dec 12, 2013 Alexa rated it it was ok
Meh. Really whiny.
Michael Scott
Katherine Losse's The Boy Kings claims to be a memoir written by former Facebook employee #51. Graduated from top-level liberal arts colleges with a Ph.D. in English literature, Kate navigates jobs until reaching Facebook. Initially attracted by a customer service job, she finds herself trapped in a world of tecchies and dreams of 'world domination (her words), which conflicts strongly with her liberal arts education and personal prejudice. Unable to cope, she descends into a miserable state, un ...more
Richard Bon
Nov 07, 2016 Richard Bon rated it really liked it
"Social graces--and privacy and psychological well-being, for that matter--are just obstacles in the way of having more information." -page 43

"In the end, no matter how much we tried, we couldn't use technology to produce love. Because love, unlike technology and its uses, requires commitment to one, instead of the broadcast and consumption of many bits of distant, digital content. Love doesn't scale." -page 90

"This was always the case with social-media technology: It meant no harm, but that did
...more
Drew
Sep 11, 2012 Drew rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, ebook
Katherine Losse's "The Boy Kings" is an interesting inside look at the early culture at Facebook, especially from the grunt level as opposed to the higher echelons. She delves into how technical vs nontechnical people were treated at the office, something I've seen firsthand during my years in the computer science field. She also exposes the sexism she had to face, both passive (exclusion from male-dominated field) and active (hitting on her and outright harassment).

Her thoughts on the cult-lik
...more
Breakingviews
Jul 12, 2013 Breakingviews rated it liked it
By Megan Miller

A childish approach to life can be profitable. It has certainly worked well for the founders and backers of Facebook, as Katherine Losse demonstrates in “The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network.” The engaging and pithy book is a memoir of the author’s five years at the company, before it developed a slick corporate persona.

She describes the office shenanigans of Facebook’s Ivy League wonder whiz kids: games of hide and seek, all night hackathons and serial IM
...more
Alex
Nov 07, 2013 Alex rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alexa
Nov 11, 2013 Alexa rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Minor spoilers, depending on your POV:

This book, on the surface, didn't blow me away. It's not a page-turner. There's no big reveal of a deep dark Mark Zuckerberg closet skeleton--in fact, I would bet that much of what Losse says about Zuckerberg is essentially public knowledge. His belief in FB as a mission, his near-megalomaniac passion in the virtual connectedness of the world, and even his personality, which reads as a cross between a wannabe frat-boy and a techno geek who's not so good with
...more
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“I built this to find you.” 1 likes
“I understood Mark’s coldness: This company was his baby, and he had always been in control of it and, while we worked there, of us. It must be strange to see your dependents—people whose careers you have made possible, even as their long hours of work have helped your company prosper—asserting independence.” 0 likes
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