Uncanny Valley: Seduction and Disillusionment in San Francisco’s Startup Scene

Anna Wiener

‘Joan Didion at a startup’ Rebecca Solnit

‘Impossibly pleasurable’ Jia Tolentino

‘This is essential reading’ Stylist

At twenty-five years old, Anna Wiener was beginning to tire of her assistant job in New York publishing. There was no room to grow, and the voyeuristic thrill of answering someone else’s phone had worn thin.

Within a year she had moved to Silicon Valley to take up a job at a data analytics startup in San Francisco. Leaving her business casual skirts and shirts in the wardrobe, she began working in company-branded T-shirts. She had a healthy income for the first time in her life. She felt like part of the future.

But a tide was beginning to turn. People were speaking of tech startups as surveillance companies. Out of sixty employees, only eight of her colleagues were women. Casual sexism was rife. Sexual harassment cases were proliferating. And soon, like everyone else, she was addicted to the internet, refreshing the news, refreshing social media, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. Slowly, she began to realise that her blind faith in ambitious, arrogant young men from America’s soft suburbs wasn’t just her own personal pathology. It had become a global affliction.

Uncanny Valley is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of our generation’s very own gold rush. It’s a story about the tension between old and new, between art and tech, between the quest for money and the quest for meaning – about how our world is changing forever.

Reviews of Uncanny Valley: Seduction and Disillusionment in San Francisco’s Startup Scene

    • ‘I’ve never read anything like Uncanny Valley, which is both a searching bird’s-eye study of an industry and a generation as well as an intimate, microscopic portrait of ambition and hope and dread. Anna Wiener writes about the promise and the decay of Silicon Valley with the impossibly pleasurable combination of a precise, razored intellect and a soft, incandescent heart. Her memoir is diagnostic and exhilarating, a definitive document of a world in transition’ Jia Tolentino, New York Times-bestselling author of Trick Mirror 
    • ‘Joan Didion at a start-up’ Rebecca Solnit, bestselling author of Men Explain Things To Me
    • ‘This was the memoir I’d been waiting for. A witty, unique perspective and fresh insight showing us the behind the scenes of the tech industry in a new thrilling way’ Emma Gannon
    • ‘Uncanny Valley is a generation-defining account of the amoral late-capitalist tech landscape we are fatally enmeshed in. …Insightful, compelling and urgent’ Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter
    • ‘Uncanny Valley is an addictive combination of coming-of-age story, journalistic memoir, and brilliant social critique. This is a stunningly good book. I loved it’ Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance
    • ‘This much-anticipated memoir of Anna Wiener’s time spent working in San Francisco’s booming, seductive tech industry is guaranteed to make you think differently about the role apps command in our everyday lives’ Vogue
    • ‘Wiener’s compulsive debut memoir chronicles her journey from proud late-adopter to true believer, forging on into burnout territory and beyond. It’s a wry, crisply written tale of optimism and hubris, idealism and misogyny. While it often reads like sci-fi, it’s also a kind of horror story, one in which we are all – through inattention, if nothing else – complicit’ Daily Mail