A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley
“A serious contribution to journalism about the tech industry.”
—Nikil Saval, The New York Times Book Review
At the height of the startup boom, 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 mandatory enthusiasm, and the earnest, 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 the tech entrepreneurs, he knew he would have to inhabit that perspective— he would have to become an entrepreneur himself. Thus Pein begins his journey—skulking through gimmicky tech conferences, pitching his over-the-top business ideas to investors, and encouraging a cast of outrageous characters: cyborgs and con artists, Teamsters and transhumanists, jittery hackers and naïve upstart programmers who work endlessly and obediently, never thinking to question their place in the system. In showing us this frantic world, Pein challenges the positive, feel-good self-image that the tech tycoons have crafted—as nerdy and benevolent creators of wealth and opportunity—revealing their dangerously inflated egos and their insidious plans for the future. 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.
Corey Pein is an investigative reporter and a regular contributor to The Baffler. A former staff writer for Willamette Week, he has also written for Slate, Salon, Foreign Policy, The American Prospect, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. He lives in Portland, Oregon.