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

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  674 ratings  ·  130 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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Average rating 3.31  · 
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 ·  674 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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Aug 14, 2012 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
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, e-books
This is such an interesting read, a glimpse behind the scenes, so unexpected. I enjoyed it quite a lot.
Wendy P
Jun 27, 2012 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
Sara Watson
Oct 20, 2013 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
Dec 19, 2012 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
Dec 22, 2012 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
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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 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
Melissa Mcmasters
Jun 21, 2014 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?" ( 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
Jun 27, 2012 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
Jun 24, 2012 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.
Jul 09, 2012 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.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
It was an interesting reading about things happened behind the scenes of Facebook. What i love about this book is she doesn’t really talk about all the mighty facebook but also the downside of this social networking app.

“Technology is about solving things another way; without experiencing the problems, without afterthought, without having to do much at all. Technology can do these things for you so you don’t have to. Sometimes, that can be helpful. Other times, i think that by using technology
Chris O'Brien
Jul 13, 2012 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
Nov 09, 2013 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
Anna Lisa
Apr 28, 2013 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
Thomas Escritt
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Terrific anecdotes about working in a weird place at a weird time, with fascinating pen portraits of now very famous people behind Facebook. Loses steam at the end as she tries to draw conclusions that perhaps aren't needed. As memoir, it's very valuable.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Memoir of a woman working at Facebook 2005-2010. An inside look at how Facebook became the social media platform we know, love, & hate today. Includes much discussion of workplace culture at Facebook & in Silicon Valley in general. Losse speculates on Zuckerberg's motivations and worldview, but her account solidifies my image of him as a profit-robot. Losse's account also solidifies the view that the dissemination of spam and disinformation is a feature not a bug of facebook. The part towards th ...more
Aarav Balsu
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: everything-else
Really good writer. Subject content was a little bland but interesting: FB life from 2005-2010 from the perspective of an insider. More about culture than actual business decisions. Easy read, finished in two days.
Jan 21, 2014 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
Jack Waters
Dec 16, 2013 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
Jan 28, 2014 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
Erhardt Graeff
Nov 09, 2013 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
Oct 14, 2012 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
Jul 04, 2012 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
Jul 11, 2012 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 sou
Mar 04, 2014 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
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
After reading this book, I went through my Facebook friend list, maybe for the time ever. It was cathartic. There were so many people that I had NO idea who they were. Delete. Goodbye. Facebook is achieving its goals, we're all addicted to our devices. How do we unplug, break the cycle? I know, I write a review on an app to share what I've read with others.
Dec 29, 2015 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.
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
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to stop and think about this one for a while.

I tend to read and take notes at the same time; this book really left me conflicted for a number of reasons (which I'll go over, of course) and I came out of it with an incredibly bad taste in my mouth. Since I thought I might be taking this book a bit personally (which would be an incredibly bad move on my part since I have nothing to do with anyone in this book), I decided to set the review aside for a few days.

It's been a week -- I've skimmed
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