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 could possibly sustain itself as long as it has. Determined to cut through the clichés of big tech — the relentless optimism, the incessant repetition of vacuous buzzwords — Pein decided that he would need to take an approach as unorthodox as the companies he would soon be covering. To truly understand the delirious reality of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, he knew, he would have to inhabit that perspective — he would have to become an entrepreneur. Thus he begins his journey — skulking through gimmicky tech conferences, pitching his over-the-top business ideas to investors, and interviewing a cast of outrageous characters: cyborgs and con artists, Teamsters and transhumanists, jittery hackers and naive upstart programmers whose entire lives are managed by their employers — who work endlessly and obediently, never thinking to question their place in the system.
In showing us this frantic world, Pein challenges the positive self-image that the tech tycoons have crafted — as benevolent creators of wealth and opportunity — to reveal their self-justifying views and their insidious visions for the future. Vivid and incisive, Live Work Work Work Die is a troubling portrait of a self-obsessed industry bent on imposing its disturbing visions on the rest of us.
‘All praise to Corey Pein for jumping headfirst into the cesspool of Silicon Valley and returning without having lost his mind or sold his soul. His reports from the front lines of the startup frenzy are hilarious and terrifying. While all eyes are glued on President Trump, a shortsighted and reactionary techno-oligarchy aims to amass a fortune at the cost of the common good. There’s no app that can save us. But this book can at least wake us up to the dystopian future under construction.’
Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform
View all reviews
‘Pein’s absurdly funny journey is a Through-the-Looking-Glass tale for the dying days of tech utopianism. Built on the creative vanity of this new class of talentless speculator and designed entirely without human need in mind, this world of nonsense quickly turns dystopian when seen from the perspective of a worker and renter trying to make his way through it.’
Angela Nagle, author of Kill All Normies
‘You sleep in a pantry because you can’t afford a real apartment. You exploit yourself, destroy your health, and ruin the lives of millions when you finally succeed. You think of crime as a great business model. You embrace some of the worst politics ever devised. And you call it progress. Silicon Valley, the capitalist miracle. That is the American nightmare as Corey Pein brilliantly describes it, and it is not a work of the imagination. This is really happening, and soon it will be happening to you.’
Thomas Frank, author of Listen, Liberal and What’s the Matter with Kansas?
‘Both entertaining and damning, Pein’s book unmasks the shell game being run by venture capitalists in an industry that is not nearly as benign as it claims to be.’
‘Deeply unsettling … A clearheaded reckoning with the consequences of the tech industry’s disruptions and the ideology that undergirds it.’
‘Like Jon Ronson, Pein combines serious journalism with humour and his own antics for an entertaining and caustic mix. If Silicon Valley and Black Mirror had a book baby, it would be Live Work Work Work Die.’
‘The Silicon Valley that Pein uncovers is not unlike dystopian visions we are accustomed to seeing in science fiction.’
The New Republic
‘Impressive ... Reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels in both style and conceit, Live Work Work Work Die is a combination of New Journalism and muckraking told with an anthropological eye ... Alternately amusing and horrifying.’