The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network by Katherine Losse
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is Katherine Losse’s memoir about working at Facebook. It’s a fascinating look into the personal politics and ideologies of Facebook and Silicon Valley. She is employee 51 at the company, working in customer service after seeking a change of pace following her disenchantment with the PhD in English she was pursuing. She works her way up, playing the game and buying into the mission, and eventually tops out as Mark Zuckerberg’s ghost writer. Zuck, Sheryl Sandberg, Dustin Moskovitz all show up in the text and we get windows into their personalities. It’s the author’s detailed notes on these individuals and the growth of the company internally which serves as the key contribution of the book.
Unfortunately, the writing is a bit awkward. The personal anecdotes, glimpses of love, and social outings are all documented through the lens of how Facebook is changing how we relate, emote, and think. Her reflections and philosophizing get repetitive. I don’t think her observations are necessarily inaccurate but they feel belabored in the book. She also feels compelled to explain a lot of internet culture and hacker jargon, which interrupts the flow of the story. In the end, I enjoyed the story but feel like it could have used a heavier hand in editing as it tries to be both a memoir and an ethnography, and feels a bit off center as a result.