Founder Follies: “Startup: A Novel”

The Forrest Four-Cast: April 10, 2017

If you enjoyed “Disrupted” (the laugh-until-you-cry tell-all from veteran tech analyst Dan Lyons), then put “Startup: A Novel” on your spring / summer reading list. Written by BuzzFeed Senior Culture Editor Doree Shafrir (pictured above), this book pulls apart the New York / Brooklyn entrepreneurial scene in the same bitter-sweet way that the HBO show “Silicon Valley” satirizes San Jose.

One of the over-arching conceits of “Startup” is that everything is connected. Or at least that’s the hopeful promise of TakeOff, the feel-good, life-improving new-age app that is potentially poised for unicorn-land. But forget meditation and mindfulness—it turns out that the never-ending incestuous connections between so many tech wannabes (and their sometimes significant others) leads to inescapable founder failure here.

Given Shafrir’s professional background, much of her novel also focuses on the transitional (for lack of a more positive adjective) state of today’s online journalism industry. When anonymous Twitter accounts drive the gossip / news cycle, amassing traffic and influence becomes far more important than checking facts. Given the social media habits of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, this downward spiral isn’t likely to change soon.

The official release date for “Startup: A Novel” is Tuesday, April 25. If you live in Austin, then catch me interview the author at Book People on the evening of Wednesday, May 17. Yes, I’ll be sure to ask her about the home state of the not-so-heroic male protagonist (he is an SMU grad) and the four (count em, four!) references to SXSW in this new work. No entrepreneurial ecosystem goes unscathed.

Doree Shafrir photo courtesy of Willy Somma.

Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.

Founder Follies: “Startup: A Novel” was originally published in Austin Startups on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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