Special Characters My Adventures with Tech's Titans and Misfits
An era-defining story of self-discovery and breaking barriers.
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In 2008, twenty-three-year-old Laurie Segall was a newly minted assistant at CNN and was living in an East Village walk-up apartment. As Wall Street was crashing down, Segall began discovering a group of scrappy misfits who were rising from the ashes of the recession to change the world: the tech entrepreneurs.
A misfit herself, Segall gained entrance to New York’s burgeoning tech scene, with its limitless cash flow and parties populated by geeks-turned-billionaires. Back at the news desk, she rose through the ranks at CNN, while these entrepreneurs went from minnows to sharks, building companies that would define our democracy and our social fabric.
Over the course of a decade, Laurie Segall became one of the first reporters to give airtime to many of these founders-from Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) to Jack Dorsey (Twitter) to Kevin Systrom (Instagram) to Travis Kalanick (Uber)-while tracking their evolution and society’s cultural shift int he CNN startup beat she created. Bu the end of her tenure at CNN, she had become its on-air senior technology correspondent and had witnessed the rise of second-wave tech, from the boom to the “complicated years” to the backlash, as her misfits emerged as some of the world’s most influential leaders.
A coming-of-age narrative chronicling an era transformed, Special Characters is, at its core, a young woman’s origin story-in love, in career, and in life-and an account of the humans behind the companies that have shaped our modern society. Filled with emotional heft and razor-sharp observations, Segall’s empowering memoir is a richly rendered backstage pass to the tech bubble that reimagined the ethos of our social, political, and cultural experience.
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