Good morning, All,
It’s June and a good time to take a look back at the year so far. There’s a lot of chatter about diversity, but of course, it’s all just talk and all more or less superseded by Cultural Fit, which is nothing short of a kinder, gentler, more acceptable way to discriminate against anyone and everyone, without having to justify it. It’s one of those terms that is so pliable that it can pretty much cover anything and everything – and no one walks away with hurt feelings.
Yet, even with all of the talk about diversity, what gets left out of the conversation – most notoriously in tech – is age and gender. Ellen Pao V Kleiner Perkins is literally a case in point, as far as gender goes. We take no sides, but consider: would the case have come to trial, had Ellen Pao been, for example, a black man? And would any investor dare had tweeted – as did happen in the Ellen Pao case – that, as a result of the trial, VCs would now be less likely to hire women partners? Substitute ‘black man,’ and consider. The outcry would have been deafening.
Cultural Fit is more or less a justification for hiring workers who will follow in lock step with (primarily young) management. We hear how Millenials like to move and work in packs. Hire their buddies! Then provide health clubs, free lunches, a dentist on premises, throw in some Social Good – whatever it takes to keep them tethered. Ever wonder why they offer all of those perks? So that you don’t have an excuse to leave the office. Workers are, on balance, young and have little or no family obligations. If they did, other benefits might be available, and we might less discrimination against people who do have family obligations. Or so you’d think. It hasn’t been the case, so far, where the system has been extremely bifurcated, to the benefit of management, on multiple levels. Here’s a must-read: Silicon Valley: Perks for Some Workers, Struggles for Parents.
Cultural fit is an excuse to perpetuate the elitism, arrogance and cronyism that seem to have taken hold. And leave it to Silicon Valley to take it even a step further. Fred Wilson (USV) and Chris Sacca (lowercase Capital) recently got into a battle over Twitter’s future. Wilson sold Sacca some of his Twitter stock prior to the IPO, and let’s just say that this year is the fifth year in a row that USV has enjoyed a billion dollar exit. Know when to hold, know when to fold up – and good to know when to walk away. Sacca promised a post outlining his vision for Twitter, and good to his word, here it is: What Twitter Can Be. Of course, it turns out that he wasn’t completely transparent: The Important Context Missing From Chris Sacca’s Twitter Commerce Critique. He had an agenda (promoting his friend at Twitter, but not overtly, of course).
Bento didn’t exactly crush. But Jason is an investor, and spin and bro culture uber alles. Just is another symptom of why SV is losing its mojo. Or at least a sign of an overly saturated nepotistic ecosystem imploding, or at least drinking a bit too much of its own Kool Aid. Or in this case, Soylent. Remember Soylent? The Silicon Valley-born food replacement that was going to solve world hunger? Well, it mostly solved Silicon Valley programmers’ need to stop to eat, and take time away from working. Does make you wonder what’s in the water out there, eh? Oh, wait, there’s a drought, due, in no small part to the states ‘conservationists’ who used their power to pretty much hasten that drought. Another must read: The Green Behind California’s Greens: A handful of superrich donors have created the illusion of a grassroots environmental movement. Another reason why the echo chamber is so dangerous. Let’s not forget that this is that same California mindset that is fooling with the human genome, creating militaristic self-healing robots and releasing AI into the wild. And you wonder why Elon Musk is sounding the alarm. Being a billionaire does not make you smarter than the rest of the world. You may be smart, but that doesn’t make you wise.
Silicon Valley was once a land of rainmakers. From all indications, it has devolved into a land of elitists and kingmakers. Which may explain why other tech ecosystems are flourishing (Silicon Valley Is No Longer America’s Startup Capital – for that record, that would be Austin). Gone are the true rainmakers and in case there’s any doubt in your mind and you hadn’t noticed, it seems that on all fronts, California is experiencing something of a drought.
Then again, lest we forget, wisdom comes not with money, but with age. Onward and forward.