From veteran online journalist and BuzzFeed writer Doree Shafrir comes a hilarious debut novel that proves there are some dilemmas that no app can solve.
Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he's about to launch a new and improved version that promises to bring investors running and may turn his brainchild into a $1 billion dollar business--in startup parlance, an elusive unicorn.
Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. An ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog, Katya knows that she needs more than another PR friendly puff piece to make her the go-to byline for industry news.
Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. The exhausted mother of two and failed creative writer is trying to escape from her credit card debt and an inattentive husband-who also happens to be Katya's boss-as she rejoins a work force that has gotten younger, hipper, and much more computer literate since she's been away.
Before the ink on Mack's latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message hints that he may be working a bit too closely for comfort with a young social media manager in his office. When Mack's bad behavior collides with Katya's search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons. As the fallout from Mack's scandal engulfs the lower Manhattan office building where all three work, it's up to Katya and Sabrina to write the story the men in their lives would prefer remain untold.
An assured, observant debut from the veteran online journalist Doree Shafrir, Startup is a sharp, hugely entertaining story of youth, ambition, love, money and technology's inability to hack human nature.
Doree Shafrir is a senior culture writer at BuzzFeed News and has written for New York Magazine, Slate, The Awl, Rolling Stone, Wired and other publications. A former resident of Brooklyn, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband Matt Mira, a comedy writer and podcaster, and their dog Beau.
This book is a fun, fast read. It's a novel about startup culture in New York City but it's also an examination of millennials and their ways (social media, different relationship to work culture, etc). The women at the center of the novel are interesting. Every single man in this book is trash... like really just TRASH. I wish the book had more depth. The startup culture elements often felt like they weren't as fully developed as they could be and a lot of narrative threads are left dangling at the end. And that's fine. We don't need answers to every question. But more depth would have made this even more satisfying. All that said, there's a lot of wit and humor here and there was an amazing little twist at the end that was so smart and incisive. I liked this book. Also, ban men.
I love books with an element of technology and for me this novel was interesting to read and fast-paced.
The book takes a look into the startup culture in New York City as well as millennials' relationship to work. It also showed the strong dependency that people have to technology nowadays, the characters spent a lot of time on Snapchat, Slack, Twitter, texting and communicating with acronyms.
I found the book highly entertaining and the overall message of the story seems to be: men suck and women have to stick together.
This book is such a fun read; if I could have physically forced my old tired ass to stay up after 10:00pm last night I would have finished it in one sitting - and I haven't done that in a long time. The book reminded me a lot of how I chuckled my way through Po Bronson's early work about life in Silicon Valley (The First 20 Million is always the Hardest), almost 20 years ago.
I have lots of commentary about the characters and what happens to them, but I think that is best saved for a book club discussion. Nevertheless, I am so glad to read this book authored by a woman telling the stories (fictional ....maybe...) of tech women.
Oh, and I am like, 40 something and had to Google TFW. I am going to use it all the time now, if I ever remember to tweet, or FB or whatever.
I might change my star rating eventually since I try to keep my 5-star ratings for books that resonate with me over time, but this was exactly the right book at exactly the right time. I read and enjoyed Hatching Twitter not long ago, so I was all-in for this lady-centric tech book. It was suspenseful, poignant, well-written, and fun - all things I think the book you read on your first day of summer break should be. I'm excited to hear Doree speak at the Printer's Row Litfest this weekend.
This first novel written by Buzzfeed culture editor Doree Shafrir, is all about tech culture in NYC. But it is so much more than just that. It looks at bro culture in tech and startups. It looks at what it's like for a journalist these days to not only chase a story, but to break one. It looks at how we use all our apps to navigate our lives and relationships (romantic + otherwise). It provides insight into how much things have really changed in this digital age. With vivid observations that are laugh out loud funny, the author really grasps what it's like to work and write and live in our culture as we know it. I started this book on Friday and finished it on Sunday night. I only put it down, if only to drag out the read longer because I didn't want it to end.
There was a part that reminded me of the whole Ghomeshi scandal. There's a part that reminded me what it was like to be a journalist doing my job and covering the happenings while that case was going on, only to get hate mail and death threats and slut comments and the like on my social feeds, much like happens to some of the female leads in this book. It was ever-so-relatable on so many levels and I appreciated the focus on what it's like to be handed a juicy, exclusive story and the struggles of whether or not it's worth it to cover it - knowing outrage will ensue - or whether to stay mum.
This novel will be released in April 2017. Big thanks for Hatchette Book Group for sending me an advanced copy.
I have received this book through GoodReads Giveaway. I absolutely loved this novel. So funny and entertaining and so on point. The end of the novel is still making me think "what? What is supposed to happen next?".. Do I have to write my own ending or will there be a sequel?
The story takes place in New York City and is set in modern workplace. It talks about startup companies, their tech people, the social media and some personal drama of bosses and employees. Maybe because I am tech/ geek/ nerd kind of a gall I enjoyed to read it a lot. But maybe Doree Shafrir is just a great writer. You be the judge.
Super fun and readable, with engaging characters and a great plot. Reading this made me happy to have worked for a startup (ahem, you might have heard of it) that eschewed a lot of the ridiculousness of the startup world (despite much whining, we *STILL* don't have a cold brew keg. Like, not even Starbucks. I mean...it's like we're animals). This is a good look at a lot of what plagues the tech world -- particularly sexism and an arrogant sense of self-satisfaction-- but putting that aside, it's just a great read. There are so many little things about today's workplace culture that Shafrir captures very well. My one small complaint is that there's too much explaining -- what Slack does, what SXSW is, etc. I think it's probably necessary for quite a lot of readers, but it made parts of the book feel a little didactic to me.
But overall, I enjoyed this book tremendously. Despite the "LOL all the tech people are spoiled brats!!" stuff, Shafrir does a nice job of showing why this kind of work is so seductive and, when it goes well, satisfying: Starting something from nothing and building it with others. And then lots and lots of people use the stuff you build, and you get very fast feedback on it. There's so much magic there, I'm happy she didn't leave that out.
I was entertained from page one. Its easy to dismiss the millennial tech world as a caricature of itself,, but this was a funny book about realistic people faced with the myriad of situations unique to this time of adulting classes, happiness apps and usies. Well done!
This is a really enjoyable book, a super-modern workplace drama full of Snapchats and mysterious Twitter accounts and Slack emojis. It centers around an issue that is also thoroughly modern but certainly timeless too: What happens during and after an affair between a CEO and his subordinate? Can a young woman be believed to have given her consent in a scenario like this? What rights does a powerful man have to his privacy when he is engaged in a seedy drama of his own making? Should a drunken misstep in his personal life have a huge negative impact on his professional one? Can a woman taken advantage of become weaponized, to advance either her own aims or those of others? And on and on.
It's also a story of youth, ambition, relationships and their discontents, journalistic ethics, bromances, dick pics, selling dirty undies on Craigslist, and all sorts of other fun. I liked the twists and turns, and I particularly appreciated how generous Doree is with her characters. It would have been easy to turn several of them into clichés or monsters or two-dimensional stand-ins, but she never did. I also really enjoyed — as someone who has followed Doree for about a decade, since we were both very young gals trying to find our way in a brave new media landscape — making guesses about which of her workplaces had informed various scenes and elements in the story.
So, solid entry from Doree, which I'm stoked to have read. I hope she's got more novels gestating!
Never have I been so disappointed about not being approved for an ARC as I was about not getting approved for this novel; I’d had this novel on my radar for a while. Unfortunately, though, never have I been so disappointed about a read I’d so hyped up in my mind either. It wasn’t exactly a crash and burn, but it definitely fell from a pretty tall height in my mind at nearly whiplash inducing speeds.
Doree Shafrir’s Startup was most definitely the knock-off version of Dave Eggers' The Circle (the book, not that terrible movie version). The characters were so mono-dimensional that I literally got them confused from time to time. No, literally, thought to myself, “Wait, I thought she was doing something else last chapter. Ooh, no, that was the other chick with a personality as flimsy as a paper doll.” The characters were as shallow as a kiddie pool and had no depth of consequence whatsoever. The men were all fist-pumping-type bros with over-inflated egos and near-megalomaniacal views of themselves. Now, I can’t say that this isn’t how it is in startup culture—I have no idea—but you’d think that writing the characters like that would be, at the very least, playing into every stereotype imaginable, wouldn’t you?
However, Startup did present a really witty look at Millennial culture. Though, as a Millennial myself, I’m not sure that this is such a great read for people who are actually of this generation (is Shafrir even? Doesn't seem like it), because it tended to come off as a near-parody of our already-outrageous cultural mores. That coupled with the fact that Shafrir kept popping in like an annoying game of peek-a-boo to comment on various aspects of the startup culture gave the novel an odd mashup of: vivid, interesting facts about startup arena MEETS condescendingly parodic interpretation of this generation.
Hmm, left a taste in my mouth that’s pretty similar to unsalted potatoes: I could take it or leave it on my plate; not really adding much to my intellectual meal at all.
The first half of the novel was so description heavy, I’m convinced that word count alone must've taken up at least a quarter of the word count. So much time was spent both describing everything—South by Southwest (sigh, multiple times), yuppie office spaces, pretty, rich WASPs flitting around NYC. Shafrir painted their world as though it were a dream—a tech bubble fantasy, if you will. That aspect of the novel admittedly added humor, never taking itself too seriously, and I’m sure that plenty of readers will love that version of comedy. I never said that Startup wasn’t a lively read, full of pop culture references and characters who tried to be quirky—and I won’t take this moment to say that either—but I will note that often they came off as unlikeably entitled and pompous. Eeew.
While the main conflicts surrounding the startups themselves offered some appeal and functioned as the driving point of the novel, the internal, wholly first-world “struggles” of the characters were laughably superficial and mostly trivial (not humorously, mind you, laughably). Floods and floods of details filled the pages, diluting the actual story line, slowing the plot and washing out the impact that the read could have had. That space on the pages could have been put to better use for sure Because of this, the tension was lackluster at best most of the time.
All in all, Startup was the chick-lit version of a techy person’s dream read. There was little substance, nothing substantial or memorable about it beyond the occasional head-nod-inducing riff or mildly humorous commentary. I’d recommend it for Tina Fey lovers and tech-minded folks in need of some mental reprieve. It’s a fun, mindless read that won’t change or rock your world but may entertain you for the few hours it takes to get through it. 3 stars ***
I couldn't put Startup down; I read it in less than 12 hours. I'm nowhere near my twenties (I'm 34), New York (I live in Ohio) or a venture capitalist (SAHM), but I felt immersed in the world of Startups and the drama that unfolds. Great book if you're looking for a page turner.
Incredible narrator and a critical story about sexism and racism in tech and startup culture. The way this story covers so many aspects like the Pipeline problem excuse, the way uneven distribution of childcare duties plays out, power dynamics, sexual harassment, double standards, online harassment, mansplaining, nice guys in tech, calling women who disagree with you crazy, etc so effortlessly and complexly is incredible.
I could have done without the explicit depictions of sex, and there's a bit of biphobia that goes unchecked but otherwise it was perfect. Women working together to take down racism and sexism is my favorite plotline, but the way this story also let you see into the mind of the harasser, the ruling class of tech CEOs sheds a lot of light onto many of the other tech controverises you've been reading about lately and the tendedncy to victim blame and "strategize" as if firing one employee solves the whole issue or think of themselves (straight white guys) as the true victims who were born into a society with unequal representations of VCs, CEOs, Software Engineers, etc. Believing that you're perfect and only being held responsible for harassment because you're privileged and people now care about that is fundamentally flawed and dangerous, but I liked how it was handled and depicted in the novel.
I think a particularly insightful plotline was how even the guy supposedly fighting on the side of diversity (via Twitter and the news) still expected certain favors from his employee. Being an Ally is a whole lot more than creating anonymous Twitter posts -- it involves a mindset change.
I also loved the use of social media, analysis of the journalism industry, and coverage of ageism in tech. This book has a lot, definitely recommend!
I think this is the first book I've read since my son was born nearly 3 years ago... STOP JUDGING ;) It was an excellent read and kept my attention from early on. I connected with the working mom's character the most. It is a tough balance! I enjoyed that each chapter was written from a different perspective and it kept me wanting more the whole time.
How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying By Judge Glory Edim
Millennials drinking green juice teetering between cushy benefits and Adderall addictions. The frantic pace, open office, the witty repartee, the keg parties. The mission! The stock options! Having worked at start-ups and in online culture for more than a decade, I’ve seen it all. And, based on my experiences at least, Startup captures the vibe perfectly.
A satirical and intensely entertaining debut, Startup is an amusing story of the absurdity of tech culture and modern romance gone awry. Even if you secretly lament the good ol' days when people used the telephone instead of Snapchat, anyone who’s ever held an office job will find something to identify within.
The story begins with Mack McAllister, the founder of TakeOff, a wellness app valued at $600 million. He is untouchable, cocky, and setting the pace in Silicon Alley (New York’s answer to California’s Silicon Valley). His ultimate goal: To get the business to $1 billion, no matter how empty the product might be.
Like Mack, the female characters in Startup are smart, unpredictable and display a level of brashness to be feared and admired. There’s Isabel, whose official title at TakeOff is Engagement Ninja. She’s young, beautiful, and seemingly careless with her life choices. There’s Sabrina, a working mom who, at the ripe old age of 36, is one of TakeOff’s older employees. Then there’s Katya, a fierce young reporter hungry for her big break at online magazine TechScene. Together these women develop an unexpected bond and might even have each other’s backs in a cutthroat industry. Trust me, they’ll need it.
Startup is full of humor and scathing office drama: Risqué text messages. Tech bros. An influx of viral mishaps. Doree Shafrir perfectly captures the absurdity of our internet obsessions -- all the useless apps that navigate our day-to-day existence. I found myself laughing (and occasionally cringing) at her vivid and scathing observations. I encourage you to read Startup and see how their digital worlds collide. You won't be disappointed!
Doree Shafrir’s novel Startup is set in New York City’s tech scene, but given its theme, there is, of course, a detour to Austin to attend South By Southwest. She describes it as “the tech industry’s five-day Super Bowl, prom, Oscars, and Coachella all wrapped into one, with breakfast tacos.”
At this annual techie pilgrimage, she writes that standard-issue startup bro dorks eagerly seek out the requisite wristbands for exclusive parties while “desperately texting the person he knew inside, who inevitably didn’t have cell service.”
Once inside, these lemmings obediently tweet from each party with the correct hashtag and “get way too excited when they saw them show up on the real-time projection of everyone’s tweets on the wall.”
Hugh Forrest, SXSW’s chief programming officer, says he enjoyed the book and noted the “not particularly complimentary” SXSW references. “At least they spelled the name correctly,” he says, laughing.
“If this was said in a less playful way I would take more exception to some of this stuff,” he says. “I read it much as I would watch [television show] ‘Silicon Valley.’ It’s funny and there’s a lot of biting truth to it. But ultimately the fact that she’s doing this is because this is such a fascinating part of our culture.”
The Gotham that Shafrir paints is not the New York previously sketched out by the literary world. (She was a longtime writer with Buzzfeed in New York, and now based in Los Angeles.)
Our tale starts with purple-legging-clad acolytes jauntily making their way to a rave. No, it’s not a flashback to Studio 54. These millennials are headed to a pre-dawn “Morning Rave,” a monthly “clean-living dance party” in a warehouse in Brooklyn.
As Dan Blum, a jaded and nearing-40 editor for fictional online news site TechScene puts it: “Welcome to Startupville: population douchebag.”
Giving this one 5 stars because it made me look forward to my 6 month old's naps so I could get back to it! 'Startup' revolves around three women in the NYC tech world - Katya, a reporter; Isabel, millennial social media manager at TakeOff, a dime a dozen self improvement app; and Sabrina, 36-year-old wife and mother whose husband Dan is one the myriad problematic men in the novel. I thought the book did a nice job of playing out the ramifications of everyone's actions (being intentionally vague to avoid spoilers). Most of all though it was fun to immerse myself in a world that'a foreign and intriguing to me. This is a perfect summer read!
Working in tech, this book was all that much more relatable and fun. The hectic city lifestyle, the characters idiosyncratic and unique as ever, and the [obviously] direct focus towards modern tech.
I fell in love with the characters and the fast-paced life of Take Off from the very start. I felt like I was right there, working at the start-up with them. It has that glamorous appeal and doubles as an unwinnable. You'd have to be crazy to work there... You'd have to be crazy not to work there! As the story develops, I couldn't put it down!
This book is so ripped out of the headlines that it almost reads like nonfiction in its skewering of the more dysfunctional side of startup culture. It started off a little slow and almost too self-consciously mocking all that is mockworthy about tech bros and their companies. But there was just enough plot to keep you sucked in to what happened, and the more things that things unfolded, the more juicy it got. I can see some people not being happy with the ending, but I loved it. If the description sounds interesting, I imagine you'll like the book.
I live in Silicon Valley - land of startups, tech bros, and where the culture surrounding the advancing of technology touches everything. I say this because I feel like I personally have a strong grasp on what it means to be within a startup...maybe not one in NYC like in the book Startup by Doree Shafrir, but as a whole. I put this first because it really had a big role in how I approached this new book. To be honest with you, this book wasn't even on my radar until it popped up as an option for Book Of The Month Club (which I highly recommend if you're not a part of!) The author is a writer at Buzzfeed, so I wrote it off pretty quickly - not because Buzzfeed doesn't do some cool things but because I figured my lack of interest in Buzzfeed's other work would mean that I wasn't in the desired audience for this book either. But after thinking about it for a little while I decided it was the most appealing of that months picks and that I'd give it a shot.
Startup is the story of a handful of people who find themselves deep within the startup culture - a CEO, a couple reporters, a newly hired social media manager, and those that are linked to them - and find their lives woven together by various links. Through scandal, they are forced to decide where their loyalties lie and how they'll ensure that their success is not marred by the decisions that they choose to make.
To be fair, the story isn't a bad one. In fact, it's one of those that I can easily see making it's way onto the big screen due to it's character likability and the way their lives play out affecting one another if though they may not realize it. But it took so much patience to get through the author talking down to the reader about the different aspects of Startup culture - much of which was either unnecessary or approached in a very condescending way. It would've been much more enjoyable to just stick to the story.
Of course, that doesn't mean that it's not worth your time. If you like inter-personal drama, workplace antics, and the occasional romantic tension...this is a fantastic pick! I really liked it more than I expected and since it's so easy to read, it's perfect for those plane trips or afternoons by the pool.
What did I think?: I really thought this was a good book, and despite not being action packed or too dramatic it really was quite enjoyable. It's not one that I'll be recommending as a "must-read," but if you're perusing the shelves and considering it then I say go on and go for it.
Who should read it?: If you're looking for something easy and light, part of the NYC startup world, or just want to dive into the tech world for a bit - this one's for you.
This book is amazing! It's captivating from the start with interesting characters that are well developed. I loved how at times it was frivolous but wove in much larger issues we face in real life. The dialogue around the issues with men and their sexual privileges--it's so close to home. It was the perfect blend of astute, funny, and relevant. The only downside is that some of the threads could have been wrapped up instead of leaving so many questions.
Just got this in the mail! Thanks to Goodreads Giveaways and Little, Brown and Company for the ARC. ------ Out today! 3.5/5
This is a fun, modern read that's really relevant to today's tech-centered culture. If you're looking for a satirical story that will make you both laugh and feel for its characters, definitely pick this one up!
I enjoyed reading this fun debut novel that portrayed the current tech startup culture. This book was funny, and I even laughed out loud a few times, but it was also meaningful in the way it explored the differences between generations and what it is to be a twenty or thirty-something woman in the tech world.
I really liked the changing perspectives in this novel, although I definitely preferred Katya’s and Sabrina’s over Mack’s. This writing style allowed a glimpse into the mindsets of these three characters as they worked to develop their careers and ended up crossing paths. Despite being between Katya’s and Sabrina’s age, I was able to connect with both of them and understand their points of view. I also enjoyed how Isabel’s character developed over the course of the novel through her experiences and interactions with the other women. There were some great moments and lines between the women as well.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and hope to see more from Shafrir. I’d recommend this if you’re looking for a funny yet thoughtful book about startup culture and what it’s like for a woman to navigate it.