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Behind the Startup: How Venture Capital Shapes Work, Innovation, and Inequality (Paperback)

Behind the Startup: How Venture Capital Shapes Work, Innovation, and Inequality By Benjamin Shestakofsky Cover Image
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This systematic analysis of everyday life inside a tech startup dissects the logic of venture capital and its consequences for entrepreneurs, workers, and societies.
In recent years, dreams about our technological future have soured as digital platforms have undermined privacy, eroded labor rights, and weakened democratic discourse. In light of the negative consequences of innovation, some blame harmful algorithms or greedy CEOs. Behind the Startup focuses instead on the role of capital and the influence of financiers. Drawing on nineteen months of participant-observation research inside a successful Silicon Valley startup, this book examines how the company was organized to meet the needs of the venture capital investors who funded it.
Investors push startups to scale as quickly as possible to inflate the value of their asset. Benjamin Shestakofsky shows how these demands create organizational problems that managers solve by combining high-tech systems with low-wage human labor. With its focus on the financialization of innovation, Behind the Startup explains how the gains generated by these companies are funneled into the pockets of a small cadre of elite investors and entrepreneurs. To promote innovation that benefits the many rather than the few, Shestakofsky compellingly argues that we must focus less on fixing the technology and more on changing the financial infrastructure that supports it.

About the Author

Benjamin Shestakofsky is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is affiliated with AI at Wharton and the Center on Digital Culture and Society.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780520395039
ISBN-10: 0520395034
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: March 19th, 2024
Pages: 328
Language: English

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