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

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  372 ratings  ·  93 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...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Free Press
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Kara
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
Sara M. Watson
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
Meave
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
Louise
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


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
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
Anna Lisa
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
Will
Jan 21, 2014 Will rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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
Alison
This is the book by the girl who said David Egger's new book ripped hers off. Wouldn't that be interesting if it were true? But of course it's not. In an interview I read, she seemed upset that Egger's book was getting all this advance praise, while hers, written by someone "who was actually there", was largely ignored. I thought this was a good point, so I got her book from the library. I wanted to know the story of this woman, "employee 51" at Facebook who worked her way up from customer suppo...more
Cheryl
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
Jack Waters
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
Monica
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
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
Margot
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
pinktheory  Ⓥ
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
Lauren
I have no idea what made me want to read this book--I've completely forgotten--but I wanted to read it so much that I requested it through interlibrary loan. It was an enjoyable read in that it was well written, which is undoubtedly due to the author's academic background in English. Several things were interesting to me: the defeatist attitude the author had about the culture and her role in it, the (perhaps?) lack of understanding that people's work and personal lives are blurring together in...more
Marlena
The Boy Kings is a much-needed and refreshing behind the scenes look at Silicon Valley juggernaut, Facebook's early days. The author starts her job with Facebook right after the days captured/mythologized (you pick which one) in the movie, The Social Network. As employee #51 she shows up fresh from an ivy league school to answer support tickets at an hourly rate as she watches engineers cavort and ripstik about the office. Eventually, she makes her own ripstiking, all-night hacking friends and g...more
Susanna
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.
Danny
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.
Melissa Mcmasters
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
Drew
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
Djwolf
Like many others, I only heard about this book and picked it up because of the controversy about Dave Eggers' book. I'm glad I read both, but I'm not buying the ripoff story. His is more readable, frankly. This book was interesting to me but didn't suck me in. I agree with other reviewers that it's too whiny and woe is me from a person of reasonable privilege who could have left at any time but stayed(and whined about it) to compete and win the game she spent a great deal of time she disparaged....more
Sujal
Better than I expected, and more authentic than I would've thought. The book is at its heart a sort of memoir of the author's time at Facebook. It's a good read: honest, direct, and non-gossipy about the culture that Facebook and, more broadly, Silicon Valley have created and embraced.

She touches on some big questions through the book, but doesn't delve too deeply into trying to answer those questions. I suspect that will drive a few types of readers nuts, making it seem like the book ends up go...more
Breakingviews
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
Erhardt
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
Alex
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alexa
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
Margaret Virany
Katherine Losse, a humanist from Baltimore with a graduate degree in English Literature, was hired by Facebook when it was in its infancy. She started in a $20 an hour position in customer support. By the time she left in January of 2011, she had become Mark Zuckerberg's alter ego, responsible for writing the messages and announcements supposedly coming directly from him, and had the salary and stock options to go with it. She is extremely intelligent and her book is a valuable testament to the...more
Kara
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
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