Special Characters

A Memoir, by Laurie Segall

HarperCollins Publishers – Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Sweetbitter meets Brotopia in a story of self-discovery and breaking barriers by award-winning investigative reporter and former CNN Senior Tech Correspondent Laurie Segall.

In 2008, 23-year-old Laurie Segall was a newly minted CNN news assistant 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 every morning, Segall steadily rose through the ranks at CNN while these entrepreneurs went from minnows to sharks, building companies that would become our democracy and our social fabric: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Uber, Tinder.

Over the course of a decade, 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 in the CNN startup beat she created. By the end of her tenure at CNN, she had become the 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.

Both a coming-of-age narrative and a portrait of an era transformed, Special Characters is a young woman’s origin story—in love, in career, and in life—and the story 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 rewrote the rules of our social, political, and cultural experience.