The Book of the Week is “The Zeroes” by Randall Lane, published in 2010. This is the author’s personal account of his adventures in the magazine publishing business in the single-digit 2000′s.
Lane describes in detail, his mostly bad experiences with some of the world’s wealthiest people. They were the subjects of articles and ranked in lists in the magazines published by his company, Doubledown. They were mostly greedy Wall Street traders. He was obligated to throw lavish parties for them (paid for by his company) to sell advertising and subscriptions. He was pressured to write nice things about them, or have them pull their ads.
The author and his business partner also got caught up in the spirit of the times, which valued material possessions and growth financed through a staggering debt burden. He started a wine-tasting club, and a wristwatch club. He writes, “Character, focus, patience– all get sacrificed when you’re starved for 100% growth.” He organized events to raise money for non-profits. When an event’s promotional materials stated, “… a portion of the proceeds will go to charity” that usually meant 1 or 2%.
Read this suspenseful, eloquently written book to learn how the author and his company fared when the financial services sector got its comeuppance in 2008. Here’s a hint: “In all, 1,471 hedge funds closed their doors in 2008, with dozens more failing in 2009.”