It’s happened before. Many of us lived it. And if my reading list this weekend is any indication, it’s happening again. Like the days of the dotcom boom and bust, folks seem to be growing increasingly tired of the Silicon Valley way of doing business. And they’re getting fairly vocal about that disdain.
This isn’t exactly new. We’ve had rumblings of this before. With the Zebras. And with the seemingly never-ending exodus. But this recent spate is decidedly different. So I thought I’d capture some of it.
First, I came upon a post where the founder of Gumroad reflected on his failure to build a billion dollar company. And the success that came from that failure.
For years, my only metric of success was building a billion dollar company. Now, I realize that was a terrible goal. It’s completely arbitrary, and doesn’t accurately reflect impact.
Then, I took the time to read a lengthy missive by Tim O’Reilly, detailing the fundamental problem with Silicon Valley’s favorite growth strategy.
The horse-race investment mentality has a terrible side effect: Companies that are not contenders to win, place, or show are starved of investment. Funding dries up, and companies that could have built a sustainable niche if they’d grown organically go out of business instead. “Go big or go home” results in many companies that once would have been members of a thriving business ecosystem indeed going home.
For many, it has become increasingly impossible to believe that tech firms are working disinterestedly in service of some larger social good. Employees at Google have staged walkouts to protest sexual harassment and petitioned the company to halt its plans to develop a search engine that supports Chinese government censorship. Workers at both Google and Microsoft spoke out against providing cloud services for the Department of Defense, and Amazon employees posted an internal letter protesting how Amazon Web Services provides facial recognition technology to police.
And then how Stanford—arguably the leading producer of Silicon Valley leadership—is taking a long, hard look at the how it is educating the next generation of leaders.
The growing skepticism of the inherent goodness of technology has made its way to the industry’s most fertile recruiting ground. Stanford is known as “The Farm” because the verdant 8,000-acre campus was once home to founder Leland Stanford’s horses, but today tech firms and venture capitalists treat the 16,000-person student body like their own minor league ball club.… Thanks to the school’s close ties to the industry, more than 6,000 companies have been birthed by Stanford minds, including more than a few—such as Hewlett-Packard, Google, and Netflix—that did, in fact, change the world. Stanford is the Valley.
Each well worth the read. Even if you have to save them all until next weekend.