The Start-Up Ride
BY JANET MANLEY
Come in, close the floating glass door behind you and take a seat on the purple mitt chair. Laugh and high-five me as I tell you this: After a period of exponential growth from a single formica table into the hall of mirrors you find before you, the company has to rightsize. Ha ha ha! Show me those veneers—all that stands between this conversation and the rest of the office is a suspended glass cube and fourteen narwhal decals.
The entire ROFL team is being cut, but that information is embargoed until tomorrow. We can’t have any ZOMGs out of the staff, and won’t have their commenting privileges disabled until midnight. We don’t intend to let a single downvote loose. I need you to wait until after the Thursday night luau, then quietly tape up the handles of the fußball table, turn off the M&M fountain, and put out the electric tiki torches. By morning, we’re going to be a subsidiary.
On Friday, you will start by packing up the ball pit. You can shove it, and any social media editors you find playing there, by the “virals incubator,” aka “copyroom,” and for fuck’s sake don’t let me catch you taking the slippery slide on the way out if you want to see this Magritte-knockoff pixel rug again. Store the giant magnets in the giant cupboard under the giant whiteboard. Come to think of it, stick the giant Sharpie in there too. Effective tomorrow, HR will no longer be issuing novelty oversized checks; you will find a direct deposit form on our new Intranet, formerly the Memery. Here’s a tip, Super Mario: You’re going to want to change your intranet avatar of Mr. Cooper to something a little more professional, like a money clip or a Kindle.
Have an intern windex the Ideas Wall clean, and rake the Digital Sandpit. I don’t want corporate getting an eyeful of our jungle gym. All Macs will be replaced with PCs, because this is a business, not a summer camp. If Russell Crowe can play Javert, you can use MS Expression to mock up your wireframes. And we’re not all “amigos” now Ben, I’m your “boss.” Nikki’s too, but there is a clanking silo wall between you and her, so if you need rescuing, you sure as hell better yell up.
You know what’s for lunch, Ben? Whatever you buy yourself. Don’t be thinking that management gives a shit about your protein intake anymore. Dusan and his omelette station are already halfway to Indiana. Ha ha ha, lulz! You can eat your food in the common area, if you want to attempt a banh mi in front of five security cameras, or at your desk, which will be reconfigured before tomorrow’s all-company jamboree from “pods” to “batteries.” There are only three other people in your battery, for a total of four nodes. You can make a battery out of a lemon, a nail, a penny and a wire, Pacman. Never forget that you are expendable, and these people aren’t your allies, although you’ll probably want to go in on Seamless orders together now you’re all treating yourselves to lunch.
Here are the next steps: I am going to take Nikki into YOLO and give her this same talk, because you’ve both done some good work here. But don’t think Tweeting is going to pay the bills. Filip is history, despite his FavStars—boy wouldn’t know a good gif if it hit him in the face every three seconds. Your new reading list is Jim Collins. All the Jim Collinses. Get rid of that Gladwell, and don’t bring up your “feels” ever again.
Now hoover up those Rick Astley videos from the LAN, get yourself a real shirt, and take those ridiculous glasses off. Fist bump.
SUGGESTED READSAbout Our Company
by Yuk Ling Ho (11/3/2010)
List: Pre-Internet Companies Rebranded as Modern-Day Start-Ups
by Mike Lacher (7/19/2012)
Son, It’s Time We Talk About Where Start-Ups Come From
by Marco Kaye (2/4/2014)
RECENTLYButterball Help-Line Help-Line
by Alysia Gray Painter (11/25/2015)
Alphabetically Organized Relatives: A New Contest from Amy Krouse Rosenthal and McSweeney’s
by McSweeney's Books (11/25/2015)
Doing Science: The Wonkiness of Pure Bloodlines, and Their Unexpected Upsides
by Emily Helliwell (11/25/2015)
POPULARThe Four Horsemen of Gentrification
by Zain Khalid (11/3/2015)
Monologue: An Extremely Pregnant Woman Has a Few Questions for the Motherhood Maternity Customer Service Desk
by Amy Rolph (8/4/2015)
Monologue: As Your Governor, I Will Protect You From Mass Shooters If They Are Syrian
by Pete Reynolds (11/18/2015)