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How Dan Lyons Created Fake Steve Jobs, Wrote for 'Silicon Valley' and Escaped a 'Cult-y' Unicorn

The unicorn in question, HubSpot, isn't too happy about Lyons' new book, "Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble."

Max Jeffrey for Re/code

When Dan Lyons started working for Forbes Magazine in 1998, he thought he would stay there for the rest of his life. By the time he left Forbes for Newsweek in 2008, he no longer harbored that sort of illusion.

"I went in knowing, ‘This place is already in trouble,'" Lyons said of Newsweek on the latest episode of Re/code Media with Peter Kafka. Laid off four years later, with the print media business "imploding" around him, he took a marketing role at the tech company HubSpot, and his experiences there form the core of Lyons’ new book, "Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble."

Lyons called HubSpot a "cult-y" place where the predominantly young employees made him, a cynical 52-year-old former journalist, feel hapless and left out.

"Anyone who had worked at any other company before that was a ‘grown-up,'" Lyons said.

When reached for comment about this interview, a HubSpot spokesperson told Re/code the company was "disappointed" by Lyons’ version of the story. "It’s a big leap for anyone to take a short, singular experience at the company and extrapolate it into a broad, critical commentary that disparages so many smart, hard-working, caring people," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

On the new podcast, Lyons also discussed how he secretly created the satirical Internet personality Fake Steve Jobs, his blink-and-you’d-miss-it stint at Gawker’s Valleywag and his recent turn as a writer for the HBO show "Silicon Valley."

He praised that show’s writers’ room as being similarly cynical to a room of journalists, and explained the inspiration for the character Russ Hanneman, an obnoxious investor/tequila enthusiast.

"I think he’s supposed to be a mix, but a lot of [Mark] Cuban," Lyons said. "They lighted on this idea of the guy who had a big hit back in the first dot-com boom."

Listen to or download the episode in the audio player above. And make sure to subscribe to Re/code Media with Peter Kafka on iTunes, which you can do right here. You can also find the show on Stitcher and TuneIn. We’ll have a new episode next Thursday.

Want more podcasts? Okay! Try Re/code Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, which you can subscribe to here. Or there’s Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara and Lauren Goode from The Verge, which will have a new episode tomorrow. Click here to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes.

Finally, don’t miss Re/code Replay, where we’ve posted audio from Peter’s Code/Media 2016 conference. To subscribe to that, click right here.

You can follow @Recode on Twitter for the latest on upcoming guests.

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