“Say goodbye to your last shred of dignity in the modern, open office.”
Juicero deserved all of the attention it got and more — it was so pure, so impossibly telling about the pre-apocalyptic American wasteland. It was also just one of a whole constellation of companies that now operate under an ingenious model: take some banal product that has been sold forever at low margins, attach the disposable part to a proprietary system that pretends to improve it but really just locks pepole into a particular vendor, add a touch screen manufactured by Chinese tweens, call it “Smart,” and sell it to schlubby dads too indebted to buy a midlife crisis car and too unattractive to have an affair.
Am I going to brag my kids are jumping on their trampoline, or went to the store by themselves? Parents don’t measure themselves according to their kids’ independence, as they used to, but according to accomplishments.
Just as Silicon Valley leads the way in smartphones, Silicon Valley parents think they should be producing model kids, optimized kids, kids with extra capacity and cool features: kids who have start-ups (or at least work at one); do environmental work in the Galápagos; speak multiple languages; demonstrate a repeatable golf swing; or sing arias.
San Francisco was built on a sand bank on top of a fault line which is the worst idea, but even after 1906 everybody pretty much said ‘lol fuck it, too late’ and kept going.
One of the reasons that Silicon Valley exists is that we have all worked next to somebody who has gone off and been successful. We know firsthand that the guy next to us that went off and was very successful was an idiot.
Burning Man… has become a place where CEOs, venture capitalists and startuppers can network (while wearing, at most, swimsuits). While neither money, branding nor barter are allowed, suddenly companies are getting funded, co-founders are meeting, and people are getting jobs right on the playa. Among the 68,000 costumed and dust-covered attendees are some unexpected names – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg goes. So do Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. And Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. Anarchists parking Priuses next to ramshackle tents and tarps are now sharing the sand with wealthy techies arriving, via private jets, at luxury desert camps fully staffed with cooks, masseuses and assistants…
‘It’s hard to be a billionaire at Burning Man, even though there are so many of them.’
Five of the six most-visited websites in the world are [in Silicon Valley], in ranked order: Facebook, Google, YouTube (which Google owns), Yahoo! and Wikipedia. (Number five is a Chinese-language site.) If corporations founded by Stanford alumni were to form an independent nation, it would be the tenth largest economy in the world, with an annual revenue of $2.7 trillion, as some professors at that university recently calculated. Another new report says: ‘If the internet was a country, its gross domestic product would eclipse all others but four within four years.’
This is a culture that has created many new ways for us to contact one another and atrophied most of the old ones, notably speaking to the people around you.
The technology industry, by sequestering itself from the community it inhabits, has transformed the Bay Area without being changed by it—in a sense, without getting its hands dirty… Technology can be an answer to incompetence and inefficiency. But it has little to say about larger issues of justice and fairness, unless you think that political problems are bugs that can be fixed by engineering rather than fundamental conflicts of interest and value.
We live in a bubble, and I don’t mean a tech bubble or a valuation bubble. I mean a bubble as in our own little world.
The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories. People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.
By far the bulk of the activity in the last eight years or so has happened in San Francisco. Facebook’s location on the Peninsula has been an outlier. The rest of the large companies are old Valley names like Intel, Cisco, Yahoo, and even wonkier names you wouldn’t recognize.
This shift to the North is precisely what’s caused the handwringing over whether we should embrace our inner Manhattan. As the city government works to keep companies like Salesforce and Twitter and Zynga in “the city” — for the first time in Valley history — no one knows where on earth the employees are going to live. We’re already north of 90 percent occupancy.
Meanwhile, take a look at those companies in the Peninsula and South Bay. They aren’t located in high-rises either. They are large, sprawling campuses with their own parks and gyms and car washes and convenience stores. They are in no way hubs of any budding urban ecosystem. They are self-contained, gated (via scannable badges) fiefdoms that have more in common with old coal mining towns of yore than the headquarters of say, Conde Nast or a Wall Street mega-bank.