My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dan Roberts takes up a developer job at the upcoming social network Former.ly, a network that releases posts from its users upon their deaths. Plagued with bad code, financial troubles and twitchy founders, things take a turn for the worse when a journalist and an ex-staff turn up dead after a big announcement. There's some shady business going on and the longer Dan stays, the harder it is for him to leave without dire repercussions.
Cobain showcases a truly toxic start-up culture in Former.ly. John Mayers, one of the founders, tells Dan upfront that the job will kill his social life and ruin his relationships, also ending the job interview on a weirdly threatening note, saying they need full commitment, and once they're in there's no turning back. Both bosses are extremely erratic, the company runs on unpaid overtime instead of hiring enough staff, and pay is low but with the promise of payment in stocks. And yet, if you think about it, much of this has been normalised in our current capitalistic work culture, where people are encouraged to put their jobs and work commitments above their families and relationships.
What fascinated me most was the warped social fabric woven around Dan and his colleagues, one that encompasses all their lives and pulls them all into a little silo that's disconnected from the real world. And that's also another question the text grapples with: what lengths would someone take to protect their money and reputation? And if the company is all they have left, what would they do to protect it, even over others' lives?
Overall, Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network is a really interesting read.
Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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