Dan Lyons accomplished a lot in his two-plus decades as a writer. He wrote two novels, he held jobs with publications like Newsweek and Forbes and he penned a popular blog for several years as “Fake Steve Jobs.”
Then he took a marketing gig with a software startup. It did not go well.
In it, Lyons depicts his former employer — Cambridge, Mass.-based HubSpot — as a frat-house-meets-brainwash-shop, where business cliches such as “1+1=3” and “We’re changing the world” reigned supreme.
Dogs roam HubSpot’s hallways, because like the kindergarten decor, dogs have become de rigueur for tech startups. At noon, Zack tells me, a group of bros meets in the lobby on the second floor to do push-ups together. Upstairs there is a place where you can drop off your dry cleaning. Sometimes they bring in massage therapists. On the second floor there are shower rooms, which are intended for bike commuters and people who jog at lunchtime, but also have been used as sex cabins when the Friday happy hour gets out of hand. Later I will learn (from Penny, the receptionist, who is a fantastic source of gossip) that at one point things got so out of hand that management had to send out a memo. “It’s the people from sales,” Penny tells me. “They’re disgusting.”
Lyons left the job in late 2014 — he lasted a little more than a year — but the story didn’t end there. HubSpot later fired its chief marketing officer, claiming he had violated “the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics in connection with attempts to procure a draft manuscript” of Lyons’s book. The FBI investigated but ultimately did not bring charges against any past or present HubSpot employees.
Here’s the link again to the excerpt, titled “My Year in Startup Hell.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.