Barons of Crap

Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein reviews Billion Dollar Brand Club and the disruptors who didn’t change anything

Lawrence Ingrassia’s new book Billion Dollar Brand Club: How Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Other Disruptors Are Remaking What We Buy. Ingrassia, a former business editor at the New York Times, presents the pulse-deadening chronicle of a group of millennial businesspeople who managed to squeeze their way into the top echelons of the monied classes, all while leaving the lives of consumers almost completely unchanged or worse off than before.

If the book testifies to anything, it’s that the best and brightest of our country’s business class have invested all of their available brain power into making once durable consumer goods disposable and continuing the atomization and dispossession of worker power by extending lean manufacturing to new realms. It’s tempting to wonder what Marx would have thought of Ingrassia’s account, an impossibly dull, granular, play-by-play of how the bourgeoisie have continued to constantly revolutionize the instruments of production, causing everlasting uncertainty and agitation, all while, miraculously, changing little of consequence for anyone else.

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