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Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  813 ratings  ·  151 reviews
A scathing exploration into the heart of Silicon Valley, laying bare the greed, hubris, and retrograde politics of an industry that aspires to radically transform society for its own benefit

At the height of the startup boom, journalist Corey Pein set out for Silicon Valley with little more than a smartphone and his wits. His goal: to learn how such an overhyped industry co
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Metropolitan Books (first published April 24th 2018)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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Sten Tamkivi
The author has failed to decide what this book is going to be, and what is the message he wants to convey.

I started reading it as a kind of humorous "arriving to the Valley to build something" participatory adventure, with healthy irony towards the coliving, corporate swag wearing, free beer chasing founder-hopefuls... which at some point drifted into a more macro-level Silicon Valley critique. I continued reading, now curious for solid tech skeptic arguments, but... didn't really find them.

May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I should open with the confession that I’ve known Corey for years so it’s possible I’m biased but I’m also a librarian and I don’t take reviews lightly. If I didn’t like it, I’d just have avoided doing a review.

Thankfully however (because no one wants to tell their friend that their book is terrible) it is well worthy of five stars. I’m not a techie and when I first learned about what his book would be about I wasn’t super excited to read it. But this is a book for anyone who is curious about t
Katya Kazbek
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I translated this book into Russian. I don’t read the book in full before I start translating, so that my process becomes more organic, and this one really took me on a roller coaster ride. I am in no way particularly interested in the world of the Silicon valley even if I use new tech quite a bit and am interested in innovation and what it can do. I’m also, to put it mildly, not a big fan of capitalism. So I started off mildly interested in the author’s journey. My editor has compared the book ...more
Ed Erwin
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is almost two separate books stuck together. Part one is based on the author's personal experiences of investigative/stunt journalism and is captivating. Part two is more about the ideas of people who, in most cases, he hasn't met. That is still interesting, just not as much.

He travels to SF in 2015 and tries to make it rich in the internet startup culture. Not being rich already, he has to endure horrible housing conditions. It is shocking how much you have to pay to share a shitty Air BnB
John Spiller
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Live Work Work Work Die" by Corey Pein sits comfortably alongside other Silicon Valley/tech startup takedowns such as "Disrupted" by Dan Lyons and "Chaos Monkeys" by Antonio Garcia Martinez. While Martinez gave an unflattering insiders perspective behind a successful tech company (Facebook) and Lyons stripped away the facade of a sham tech company (HubSpot), Pein takes aim at some of the weird and downright disturbing philosophies bubbling up from Silicon Valley that are gaining increasing acce ...more
Hien Le
May 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
Begins with the possibility of great gonzo journalism: a guy who's been wronged by the modern venture-based cash-burning machine sets out to game the broken system and dupe the jerks with his own outlandish idea. Turns out he has neither the skills, ideas, nor charisma to convince any rich person to hand him a large bag with dollar signs on it. His initial relate-able accounts and criticism of the tech industry's casual bacchanalian excesses devolves into a scattered tin-foil hat expose of the t ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Can a book be delightful AND terrifying? Pein's is both. It's also hilarious and witty. He tries to launch an app to disrupt capitalism through labor organizing. I mean, if that's not the best thing I've ever contemplated, I don't know what is. Granted, this is one man's view of silicon valley--and a particularly skeptical man--but it's one I am very sympathetic too so it was a joy to read and also a fright. ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
The description of this book calls it scathing and that is certainly apt. Corey Pein seems to truly despise his subject matter. The book begins as the story of another person seeking to make it big in Silicon Valley. In many ways Silicon Valley has replaced Hollywood or New York City as the place young people go to make it big. Instead of dreaming of being the next big movie or Broadway star, now people want to be the next Zuckerberg or Musk. Pein starts as another aspirant, crammed into Bay Are ...more
Scribe Publications
In the spirit of George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, Corey Pein takes us on a gonzo misadventure through the underbelly of Silicon Valley, exposing the dystopian comedy behind the techno optimism with wry observation and gleeful contempt. A helluva ride.
Joe Hagan, Author of Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine

All praise to Corey Pein for jumping headfirst into the cesspool of Silicon Valley and returning without having lost his mind or sold h
Constantinos Kalogeropoulos
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever seen the show Silicon Valley and laughed or shook your head at the antics, douchbaggery, and the downright misanthropic eccentricities of the 'technies' caricatured in it, you'll love this book. The first half is about Corey's adventures as a wannabe start-up billionaire. Paying an arm and a leg just to sleep in some boarding/crack hous.... err, I mean Airbnb's, eating free pizza, drinking free beer, and hobnobbing with overly optimistic and probably more than a little socially ma ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
After reading excerpts of Live Work Work Work Die posted online a couple months ago, I wasn't sure whether or expect a humor-filled memoir or ethnographically-inclined journalism, but I thought it'd be interesting either way. What I did get was a half-baked mess that doesn't dive any deeper than Vice on any given Tuesday. Pein admits in the introduction that he went into the project with nothing so much as resembling a plan and that he had to split the difference between memoir and journalism ou ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: techy
The book was an eyeopener for me, someone who is going through this Live-work-work-work-die cycle of slavery working within the tech industry. I should have known as all throughout history rich classes have always been very dismissive of the poor seeing them as a burden on development, crimping their lifestyles. These new techs millionaires are just the latest addition to the same old class issue prevalent in the world, they hate the government, they despise democracy for standing in the way of ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
So, here's the story in a nutshell:
A low-key SJW who considers himself to be a pinnacle of humour and writing talent (but he is obviously not one) moves to Bay Area. There, he is shocked with housing prices and unbearable startup/corporate spirit. Somehow, he still decides to launch a startup, but his idea is, unsurprisingly, complete bullshit, and noone wants to finance it. All that drives the author insane, and he concocts a wild conspiracy theory that includes: Neo-nazis, Ray Kurtzweil (do no
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
The book was structured with a meandering exploration of some of the wackier sides of Silicon Valley. The author shows us chapter by chapter how many of our positive conceptions of this, presumed to be, emerald city are rather unrealistic.

He tells us the story of the many starry eyed youth who days are transfixed by the possibility of moving westward for a better life from booming economic gain, to more lax freedoms are misled in their beliefs of escaping the ailments of the modern economy. I
Lucy Austin
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stealing free beer from WeWork isn't making you fitter, happier, more productive,comfortable,not drinking too much,regular exercise at the gym,three days a week,getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries,at ease,eating well,no more microwave dinners and saturated fats,a patient, better driver,a safer car,baby smiling in back seat,sleeping well,no bad dreams,no paranoia,careful to all animals,never washing spiders down the plughole,keep in contact with old friends,enjoy a drink ...more
Olha Khilobok
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because I’m a fan of Corey Pein’s podcast, “News From Nowhere,” and have liked some of his writings a lot. Pein’s a journalist covering what you could think of as the “high-concept political awfulness” beat, and has some of the better short-form writing on contemporary fascism and the altright around. After publishing an article on the embrace of “neoreactionary” thought in tech circles, Peter Thiel called Pein a conspiracy theorist- a few weeks later, we found out Thiel was ban ...more
Orest Ivasiv
this book has two parts:
1. Silicon valley life
2. bullshit about singularity and related stuff.

1st was interesting. 2nd is like from another boring book.

The “message” hasn’t been delivered.
Scribe Publications
In the spirit of George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, Corey Pein takes us on a gonzo misadventure through the underbelly of Silicon Valley, exposing the dystopian comedy behind the techno optimism with wry observation and gleeful contempt. A helluva ride.
Joe Hagan, Author of Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine

All praise to Corey Pein for jumping headfirst into the cesspool of Silicon Valley and returning without having lost his mind or sold h
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pein, a journalist and entrepreneur, decided to investigate the 'underbelly' of modern day startups in Silicon Valley. His investigation sought to learn how seemingly mindless ideas launch and get astronomical sums of money. Many barely have an idea but due to namesake and alma matter, can still garner fairly high valuations to roll along these unproven businesses. Pein does the poor mans SV experience that is comprised of meetups for 'wannabes,' lame branded events to show off 'progressive comp ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Struggled to find a meaning or purpose for this book besides criticism
Zachary Houle
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Some people argue that Ottawa, Ontario, Canada is Silicon Valley North. Others argue that it’s Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Since I’m based in the former, let’s assume for the heck of it that I’m in the heart of the digital technology space in Canada. The stories I could tell you … . Let me regale you with a couple: I went for a job interview with a tech startup as a writer here in town a few years back, only to be told during the interview that a university graduate had popped up on the founders’ ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, and have bought copies for friends. While I'd like to keep my own copy, I suspect that this too will have to be shared, or passed along—that's what one does with an important collection of insights about people, and about a section of the economy.

Live Work Work Work Die is an extended discourse on what's happening in Silicon Valley—what, big-picture, the place is like, what kind of person works there, and why they're working. Pein speaks empathetically about the types of even
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve lived in San Francisco and worked in tech for almost 2 years. Reading this book made me realize how desensitized I'd become to the truly bizarro nature of Silicon Valley. Corey Pein offers cutting commentary on the absurdity of company valuations, the new kinds of scams you can find in the startup age, and the fascist ideations of some of tech’s most powerful people. There is an ugly underbelly of Silicon Valley, and it’s masked by a shiny veneer of technological innovation and playful corp ...more
Tõnu Vahtra
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Wasn't really impressed with this book and expected something different based on title and short description. The author himself has not been that successful as an entrepreneur himself and seems to be knowingly looking for the negative examples and then amplifying them as mainstream media would do. He is talking about scammers who are selling their "get rich fast" schemes and are feeding the bubble for those who believe that there are shortcuts for success (there can be if you are lucky but this ...more
Alexander Halladay
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
An alternative title, "Fear and Loathing in the Silicon Valley" might equally be apt for this almost sensationalist look at how the tech industry stemming from the bay area has created counterproductive culture wrapped in the perverted blanket of what's left of the American Dream. Our narrator is far from the hero in the underworld odyssey through the meatgrinder of venture funding, worker exploitation, and terrible AirBNB's, but yet another Silicon Valley schemer come to be disillusioned by the ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
The author does not understand what a startup is, how it works is supposed to work and why people actually get rich in Silicon Valley given the right context.

The book goes from how insane it is to live is SV, to pitching half-baked ideas to questioning the morality of big VCs or CEOs. Sounds a bit like the sour grapes syndrome.

IMHO a better approach would have been to actually follow a startup from birth to failure/success and maybe do that a couple of times. Find a mentor in the VC circles an
Tanya K
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

This book wasn't exactly what I expected from the title and the cover. But it was a fascinating and sometimes horrifying look into the inner workings of the Silicon Valley.

But I also feel like I wasn't who the book was intended for. Now that more and more information comes out about the shitty things these companies do and horrible ways they treat their employees (hey, Facebook, I'm looking at you), the concept of the people who run them being, well ... shitty, isn't that surprising.

I wond
May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wow, what a whacky neo-luddite journey from the author also wanting to get rich like "the techies" to casting Peter Thiel and his crazy stuff as the general representation of everyone and everything from Silicon Valley. Spoiler alert: everyone's greedy, racist and most likely crazy, but unfortunately you can't really avoid technology these days, so... tough. The author does not have an alternative to technology and "techies", or any kind of a historical representation (would we be in a better pl ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Corey Pein's attempt to dismantle Silicon Valley.

It starts with some entertaining semi-lighthearted observations of life in SF, the hot air produced by various start-ups, the housing situation, over-eager useful idiot developers etc. As I've spent quite a bit of time in SF during the very time the writer describes, I could recognize some... but really the book is a bit of a caricature of that.

After that, the tone gets a bit more serious/hysterical with ramblings about how fascist SV billionaire
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