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The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara
"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K
John Young, Paul Ely in BusinessWeek, October 3, 1983, quoted in Thomas & Company, “Competitive Dynamics in the Microcomputer Industry.” 23. Thomas & Company, “Competitive Dynamics.” 24. Smith, “Silicon Valley Spirit”; Robert Reinhold, “Life in High-Stress Silicon Valley Takes a Toll,” The New York Times, January 13, 1984, 1. 25. Jean Hollands, The Silicon Syndrome: A Survival Handbook for Couples (Palo Alto, Calif.: Coastlight Press, 1983). 26. Reinhold, “Life in High-Stress Silicon Valley Takes a Toll”; Smith, “Silicon Valley Spirit.” 27. Thomas & Company, “Competitive Dynamics”; Paul Freiberger, “IBM Counts its Chips, Invests $250 Million in Intel,” InfoWorld 5, no. 5 (January 31, 1983): 30; Jean S. Bozman, “The IBM-Rolm Connection,” Information Week 37 (October 21, 1985): 16; Katherine Maxfield, Starting Up Silicon Valley: How ROLM became a Cultural Icon and Fortune 500 Company (Austin, Tex.: Emerald Book Co., 2014). 28.
So goes all of Jerry’s 1976 salary.”10 As the cash flowed and the flash increased, more East Coast journalists started trekking out to Silicon Valley. The term “Silicon Valley” very gradually started popping up in the business sections of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal (it nearly always appeared in quotation marks). Gene Bylinsky of Fortune rolled out a series of euphoric articles about high-tech execs and the venture capitalists who financed them, sketching portraits of risk-taking iconoclasts that sounded a lot like Hoefler’s Wagon Wheel chronicles and blind items. This wasn’t just another business story: it was an entrepreneurial story of people audacious or foolhardy enough to strike out on their own. “If you are a capitalist—and I am—you graduate to the Olympics of capitalism by starting new businesses,” one Silicon Valley executive told Bylinsky.11 THE SILICON VALLEY STYLE It certainly seemed to outsiders like this was something different.
Doerr organized an effusive endorsement from seventy-five of Silicon Valley’s boldface names, who joined Clinton and Gore on a phone call to praise the administration’s economic record—and pat themselves on the back for all they’d done to make it happen. “This administration really gets it,” Doerr declared in his opening remarks. The Clinton era had been good for Silicon Valley, and the Valley had been good for Clinton and Gore. “I think it’s notable,” he added “that the California companies that are endorsing you today have created over 28,000 jobs in their companies over the last four years.” A resurgent Steve Jobs, on the cusp of being wooed back to Apple after his decade of banishment, sounded a similar note. “The past four years have been the best Silicon Valley has ever seen,” he said. “Silicon Valley doesn’t traditionally look for handouts, doesn’t look for tax credits,” said the man who’d lobbied so hard for those things fifteen years before.
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang
23andMe, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, affirmative action, Airbnb, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Burning Man, California gold rush, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Ferguson, Missouri, game design, gender pay gap, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, high net worth, Hyperloop, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Khan Academy, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microservices, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, post-work, pull request, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, subscription business, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, women in the workforce
Halfway through 2017: Erica Joy Baker, “Tech Diversity and Inclusion Post-mortem,” GitHub, June 22, 2017, https://gist.github.com/EricaJoy/f13441a2ec9a014ae00e5e9c1704ea4a. She took the microphone: Niniane Wang, “Brainstorm Tech: Fixing Inequality in Silicon Valley,” interview by author, Fortune Brainstorm Tech Town Hall, July 18, 2017, video, 39:08, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWXw_bclArI. VCs, stop asking women entrepreneurs: Nicole Farb, at “Brainstorm Tech: Fixing Inequality in Silicon Valley.” “In Silicon Valley today”: Christa Quarles, at “Brainstorm Tech: Fixing Inequality in Silicon Valley.” “Without a doubt”: Adam Miller, at “Brainstorm Tech: Fixing Inequality in Silicon Valley.” Apple’s diversity numbers: “Inclusion and Diversity,” Apple, accessed Nov. 20, 2017, https://www.apple.com/diversity. According to Code.org: Code.org, “Girls Set AP Computer Science Record . . .
Young wasn’t specifically describing the tech industry, but he nailed it. That the winners in Silicon Valley deserve all the prizes they have won is an argument that one hears, both explicitly and subtextually, across Silicon Valley. Of the many tech billionaires I’ve met, all have seemed to be very smart, creative thinkers and hard workers. Sometimes exceptionally so. But they’ve also been lucky. In some cases, more lucky than good. And in many cases, no more good than many others who were less privileged and less lucky. If Silicon Valley were truly a meritocracy, and opportunities were indeed rewarded according to one’s true skill and ability to do the job, that would be great for all workers, men and women. But the reality is, as the PayPal Mafia exemplifies, Silicon Valley is not a meritocracy. More fundamentally, meritocracy is impossible to achieve, because, as Young says, a meritocracy is always based on an imperfect definition of merit and often narrowly defined to favor training, connections, and education primarily available to the wealthy.
“Travis can spend eight”: Chris Sacca, “Lowercase Capital Founder Chris Sacca: Studio 1.0,” interview by author, Bloomberg, June 12, 2015, video, 27:43, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-06-13/lowercase-capital-founder-chris-sacca-studio-1-0-06-12-. Women account for almost half: Dan Primack, “Wall Street Outpaces Silicon Valley on Gender Equality,” Axios, Aug. 8, 2017, https://www.axios.com/wall-street-outpaces-silicon-valley-on-gender-equality-2470698125.html. “It’s bad for shareholder value”: Megan Smith, “Former U.S. CTO on Silicon Valley’s Diversity Battle,” interview by author, Bloomberg, Aug. 7, 2017, video, 7:09, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-08-07/ex-u-s-cto-on-silicon-valley-s-diversity-battle-video. “We have a long way to go: Satya Nadella, “Satya Nadella: Bloomberg Studio 1.0 (Full Show),” interview by author, Bloomberg, Sept. 29, 2017, video, 23:40, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-09-29/satya-nadella-bloomberg-studio-1-0-full-show-video.
The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen
"Robert Solow", 3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bob Geldof, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, lifelogging, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Metcalfe’s law, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer rental, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, Thomas L Friedman, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator
For data on Rochester’s very high 2012 murder rate, see Karyn Bower, John Klofas, and Janelle Duda, “Homicide in Rochester, NY 2012: Comparison of Rates for a Selection of United States and International Cities,” Center of Public Initiatives, January 25, 2013. 3 Rory Carroll, “Silicon Valley’s Culture of Failure . . . and the ‘Walking Dead’ It Leaves Behind,” Guardian, June 28, 2014. 4 “How I Failed,” Cultivate Conference, New York City, October 14, 2013, cultivatecon.com/cultivate2013/public/schedule/detail/31551. 5 “‘Fail Fast’ Advises LinkedIn Founder and Tech Investor Reid Hoffman,” BBC, January 11, 2011. 6 “Failure: The F-Word Silicon Valley Loves and Hates,” NPR.org, June 19, 2012, npr.org/2012/06/19/155005546/failure-the-f-word-silicon-valley-loves-and-hates. 7 Eric Markowitz, “Why Silicon Valley Loves Failure,” Inc., August 16, 2012, inc.com/eric-markowitz/brilliant-failures/why-silicon-valley-loves-failures.html/1. 8 MIT Technology Review, September/October 2013, technologyreview.com/magazine/2013/09.
In many ways, failure is as endemic here as it is in Rochester. “After decades in which the country has become less and less equal,” mourns the Palo Alto–born-and-bred George Packer, “Silicon Valley is one of the most unequal places on earth.”35 Figures from the Chapman University geographer Joel Kotkin suggest that the Valley has actually hemorrhaged jobs since the dot-com crash of 2000, losing some forty thousand jobs over the last twelve years.36 A 2013 report by Joint Venture Silicon Valley confirms Kotkin’s findings, adding that homelessness in Silicon Valley has increased by 20% between 2011 and 2013 and reliance on food stamps has reached a ten-year high.37 In Santa Clara County, the geographical heart of Silicon Valley, the poverty rate shot up from 8% in 2001 to 14% in 2013, with the food stamp population jumping from 25,000 in 2001 to 125,000 in 2013.
Even though, as the entrepreneur and academic Vivek Wadhwa reminds us, female-founded startups are more capital-efficient than those founded by men and have lower failure rates and higher annual revenues, women are still radically underrepresented in Silicon Valley.41 The numbers on this are disturbing. Fewer than one in ten venture-funded startups in Silicon Valley are led by women, with only 3% of that venture money going to all-female teams.42 An estimated 2–4% of engineers at tech companies are women,43 and, according to Measure of America, these Silicon Valley women earn less than half of what Silicon Valley men do.44 Equally troubling, there is a persistent sexist culture among many of the young male programmers, the so-called tech bros, who openly treat women as sexual objects and unashamedly develop pornographic products such as the “Titshare” app introduced at the 2013 TechCrunch Disrupt show in San Francisco,45 designed to humiliate their female colleagues.
Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) by Adam Fisher
Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bob Noyce, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Byte Shop, cognitive dissonance, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Elon Musk, frictionless, glass ceiling, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Jeff Rulifson, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, nuclear winter, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, popular electronics, random walk, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, social graph, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, The Hackers Conference, the new new thing, Tim Cook: Apple, tulip mania, V2 rocket, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Y Combinator
My father was less so: “Maybe,” he mused. I left Silicon Valley for college and then returned a dozen years later as an editor for Wired magazine. There I started to notice something odd: The stories about Silicon Valley emanating from the New York media world were vastly different from those stories that I had heard at sleepaway camp and in computer rooms, and then later in barrooms and at Burning Man. There was a cognitive dissonance there. New York just doesn’t get it, I told myself. Eventually I came to understand that it all came down to perspective. The mainstream media sees Silicon Valley as a business beat, a money story: Who’s up and who’s down in the new economy? Who’s the latest billionaire? Those are valid questions, maybe even interesting ones—but not to me. In the Silicon Valley where I’m from, the stories were almost never about money.
Who better to inherit the Earth, at a time of crisis, than a generation obsessed with science and engineering? It’s pretty clear where this new nerd culture came from—it came from the same place that the money did: Silicon Valley. And what is a culture? There’s no mystery there, either. A culture is simply the stories that define a people, a place. It’s the stories we tell each other to make sense of ourselves, where we came from, and where we are going. And here those stories are, between two covers. Together they comprise an oral history of Silicon Valley. Adam Fisher Alameda, California June 2018 Silicon Valley, Explained The story of the past, as told by the people of the future Silicon Valley is a seemingly ordinary place: a suburban idyll surrounded by a few relatively small cities. So how is it that the Valley keeps conjuring up the future?
The other partners told me that this was just another wave of technology and it soon would be gone. And I said, “I disagree. Bye-bye. I’m going out to Silicon Valley.” That was ’98. Ali Aydar: It was the dot-com boom, and I’m in Chicago languishing away at a bank, and I have a degree in computer science from Carnegie Mellon. Why am I at a bank in Chicago? I need to be in Silicon Valley, I need to be in the dot-com boom, and be taking advantage of it in some way. So I came out to Silicon Valley in August of 1999. Jordan Ritter: I was a paid hacker. I lived in downtown Boston, which was the center of hacking in the United States at the time: It wasn’t New York, it wasn’t LA, it wasn’t even Silicon Valley. Boston was the seat of it, and I was in the middle of that. Sean Parker: Shawn Fanning and I met in the computer underground.
The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bob Noyce, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Graeber, deindustrialization, don't be evil, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, energy security, falling living standards, future of work, Gini coefficient, Google bus, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, low-wage service sector, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, McJob, McMansion, medical bankruptcy, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Buchheit, payday loans, Peter Calthorpe, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional
“Should Local Government Be Run Like Silicon Valley?” Governing, April 2013, http://www.governing.com/topics/technology/gov-local-government-run-like-silicon-valley.html. 93. “Libertarian Island: A Billionaire’s Utopia,” The Week, August 18, 2011; Greg Baumann, “Rich State, Poor State: VC’s ‘Six Californias’ Divides Silicon Valley from Have-Nots,” Silicon Valley Business Journal, February 4, 2014. 94. Kevin Roose, “The Government Shutdown Has Revealed Silicon Valley’s Dysfunction Fetish,” Daily Intelligencer (blog), New York, October 16, 2013, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/10/silicon-valleys-dysfunction-fetish.html. 95. Susanne Posel, “Why Does Silicon Valley Want Elite Floating Cities & 6 Californias?” Occupy Corporatism, December 26, 2013, http://www.occupycorporatism.com/silicon-valley-want-elite-floating-cities-6-californias. 96.
Esther Yu-Hsi Lee and Aviva Shen, “Class Divide Widens Between Low-Wage And High-Wage Workers In Silicon Valley,” ThinkProgress, October 16, 2013, http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2013/10/16/2779601/wage-immigrants-silicon-valley. 148. Jake Blumgart, “How Google and Silicon Valley Screw Their Non-Elite Workers,” AlterNet, June 8, 2013, http://www.alternet.org/labor/how-google-and-silicon-valley-screw-their-non-elite-workers. 149. Silicon Valley Index, http://www.siliconvalleyindex.org; Robert Johnson, “Welcome to ‘the Jungle’: The Largest Homeless Camp In Mainland USA Is Right In The Heart Of Silicon Valley,” Business Insider, September 7, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/the-jungle-largest-homeless-camp-in-us-2013-8. 150. George Avalos, “Silicon Valley Job Growth Has Reached Dot-Com Boom Levels, Report Says,” San Jose Mercury News, February 7, 2013. 151.
But They Think and Act like Ruthless Republicans,” Politics and Tech (blog), Telegraph (UK), November 6, 2012, http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/micwright/100008207/silicon-valley-geeks-vote-like-pious-democrats-but-they-think-and-act-like-ruthless-republicans; Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, “Google, Once Disdainful of Lobbying, Now a Master of Washington Influence,” Washington Post, April 12, 2014. 100. Brian S. Hall, “With Help from Silicon Valley, America to Dominate the 21st Century,” Tech.pinions, August 12, 2013, http://techpinions.com/help-silicon-valley-america-dominate-21st-century/21550. 101. John B. Judis, “The GOP Plan to Crush Silicon Valley What Will Become of Steve Jobs’s Angel?” New Republic, August 20, 2013, http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114329/republican-budget-cut-would-crush-silicon-valley; Nate Silver, “In Silicon Valley, Technology Talent Gap Threatens G.O.P. Campaigns,” FiveThirtyEight (blog), New York Times, November 28, 2012, http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/in-silicon-valley-technology-talent-gap-threatens-g-o-p-campaigns. 102.
Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Corey Pein
23andMe, 4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, bank run, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, California gold rush, cashless society, colonial rule, computer age, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Extropian, gig economy, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, hacker house, hive mind, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, passive income, patent troll, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, platform as a service, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-work, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, RFID, Robert Mercer, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Skype, Snapchat, social software, software as a service, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telepresence, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, X Prize, Y Combinator
And America’s hottest billionaire factory happens to be located in the most hyped yet least understood swath of suburban sprawl in the world: Silicon Valley. Seat of disruptive innovation and home to the heroes of high tech, the Valley calls out like an alluring siren to ambitious, skilled, and forward-thinking people from all over. Its singular approach to wealth creation—let’s call it “the Silicon Valley way”—was endorsed by former president Barack Obama himself. In a State of the Union address, he pledged to support “every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.” Really, shouldn’t we all be in the top one percent? Despite what you may have heard, hard work in your chosen trade is absolutely the stupidest way to join the billionaires club. In Silicon Valley—that warm, inviting cradle of cutthroat entrepreneurship—the world’s most brilliant MBAs and IT professionals discovered a shortcut to fabulous riches.
Ghazi possessed a wide repertoire of shrugs, each loaded with subtle shades of meaning. As I guessed somehow from his body language, he had a notably different outlook from that of the other investors and tinkerers and climbers I had met. Silicon Valley was “the most brutal capitalistic machine there is,” he said. “The strong get stronger and the weak get crushed. It’s very Darwinian.” Ghazi’s awakening as a Silicon Valley cynic followed several career shifts. Trained as an engineer, he had moved to the finance side of the tech industry, first as an analyst, then as an investor, bouncing around until his current employers from Saudi Arabia hired him as their representative in Silicon Valley. In an industry overrun with early-twentysomethings, Ghazi was a literal graybeard. Over the course of his career, he had observed and participated in several boom-and-bust cycles.
The constant was easy financing, whether from government-subsidized borrowing or unsophisticated investors. The variable was whatever Silicon Valley was trying to sell at the time. In the early nineties, the boom was about hardware. IBM and Apple had found a way to commercialize military-funded computer research by churning out personal desktop computers and accessories. “Back then, Silicon Valley was small,” Ghazi said. “It was focused almost exclusively on the technology with very little thought on how to market it.” Then, in the late nineties, came another commercial boom, also underwritten by government research: the internet. This time, something changed. Wall Street got involved. “All of a sudden, Silicon Valley got the first taste of the big money,” Ghazi said. Certain venture capital funds, such as Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia, grew large and powerful—even more so after the bubble popped in 2000.
AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee
AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, business cycle, cloud computing, commoditize, computer vision, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Google Chrome, happiness index / gross national happiness, if you build it, they will come, ImageNet competition, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of the telegraph, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, low skilled workers, Lyft, mandatory minimum, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, natural language processing, new economy, pattern recognition, pirate software, profit maximization, QR code, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Mercer, Rodney Brooks, Rubik’s Cube, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, special economic zone, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, The Future of Employment, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, Y Combinator
But following Nixon’s unsuccessful push, discussion of a UBI or GMI largely dropped out of public discourse. That is, until Silicon Valley got excited about it. Recently, the idea has captured the imagination of the Silicon Valley elite, with giants of the industry like the prestigious Silicon Valley startup accelerator Y Combinator president Sam Altman and Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes sponsoring research and funding basic income pilot programs. Whereas GMI was initially crafted as a cure for poverty in normal economic times, Silicon Valley’s surging interest in the programs sees them as solutions for widespread technological unemployment due to AI. The bleak predictions of broad unemployment and unrest have put many of the Silicon Valley elite on edge. People who have spent their careers preaching the gospel of disruption appear to have suddenly woken up to the fact that when you disrupt an industry, you also disrupt and displace real human beings within it.
The transition from expertise to data has a similar benefit, downplaying the importance of the globally elite researchers that China lacks and maximizing the value of another key resource that China has in abundance, data. Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs have earned a reputation as some of the hardest working in America, passionate young founders who pull all-nighters in a mad dash to get a product out, and then obsessively iterate that product while seeking out the next big thing. Entrepreneurs there do indeed work hard. But I’ve spent decades deeply embedded in both Silicon Valley and China’s tech scene, working at Apple, Microsoft, and Google before incubating and investing in dozens of Chinese startups. I can tell you that Silicon Valley looks downright sluggish compared to its competitor across the Pacific. China’s successful internet entrepreneurs have risen to where they are by conquering the most cutthroat competitive environment on the planet.
They believe Meituan triumphed by taking a great American idea and simply copying it in the sheltered Chinese internet, a safe space where weak local companies can survive under far less intense competition. This kind of analysis, however, is the result of a deep misunderstanding of the dynamics at play in the Chinese market, and it reveals an egocentrism that defines all internet innovation in relation to Silicon Valley. In creating his early clones of Facebook and Twitter, Wang was in fact relying entirely on the Silicon Valley playbook. This first phase of the copycat era—Chinese startups cloning Silicon Valley websites—helped build up baseline engineering and digital entrepreneurship skills that were totally absent in China at the time. But it was a second phase—Chinese startups taking inspiration from an American business model and then fiercely competing against each other to adapt and optimize that model specifically for Chinese users—that turned Wang Xing into a world-class entrepreneur.
Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, RAND corporation, remote working, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software is eating the world, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, young professional
For one thing, Spelman’s graduates in STEM fields are already in high demand, and they all find good jobs—just not in Silicon Valley. They’re working at Boeing and in biotech companies, rather than the “bro culture” tech companies. The bigger issue, Campbell said, is retaining black employees. Black graduates who go to Silicon Valley often feel unwanted or out of place, so they leave. To hang on to those people, Silicon Valley needs to become a place where those young people feel welcome. “It’s about having a community, having a local church you can go to, having the chance to meet a spouse,” Campbell says. How can it be that these “innovative” tech companies in Silicon Valley seem like some of the most backward organizations in the world? This is basically segregation, only instead of taking place at the University of Alabama in 1963, it’s happening in California in 2018.
Fields has announced plans to bulldoze parts of the drab old Ford campus and build a new campus that looks like the Googleplex. Ford has been hiring artificial intelligence engineers, built a tech lab in Silicon Valley, and struck a deal with a San Francisco software company whose engineers will teach Ford’s coders about Agile development. Ford wants us to know that it’s in the midst of a huge transformation, and that it’s not falling behind. Earlier, we all took turns going for rides in Ford’s prototype self-driving car, which Ford vows to have in production by 2021. Now we’ve come indoors for an event that is meant to evoke the atmosphere of a big Silicon Valley conference, or an Apple product announcement. Tim Brown, the head of IDEO, a cooler-than-thou Silicon Valley design shop, hangs out in the hallway. The Ford execs wear jeans and give casual talks about coping with change and disruption.
In some tech companies black workers represent only 2 percent of the employee population; Latinos fare only slightly better. Only one-third of workers are female. There are fewer women working in Silicon Valley today than in the 1980s. In leadership ranks the imbalance is worse—management teams and boards of directors are loaded with white men. Somehow, over the past twenty years, Silicon Valley has gone backward. It’s even worse in the venture capital industry, where 1 percent of investment team members are black, and Latinos make up just over 2 percent, according to The Information, a Silicon Valley publication. Women represent only 15 percent of decision-making roles. VCs claim that they make decisions based entirely on the strength of the company’s ideas, and without any regard for race or gender.
Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman, Chris Yeh
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, Bob Noyce, business intelligence, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, database schema, discounted cash flows, Elon Musk, Firefox, forensic accounting, George Gilder, global pandemic, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, late fees, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, transaction costs, transport as a service, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, web application, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, yellow journalism
The start-ups that achieve massive value are those that have found a way to grow into scale-ups at an exponentially faster pace than their competitors. So what secret alchemy is at work in Silicon Valley to fuel such rapid-fire growth of so many of the world’s most valuable tech companies? And if there is a secret, can it be identified, analyzed, understood, and, most important, applied elsewhere? Blitzscaling is that secret. And the reason blitzscaling matters so much is that nothing about it is inherent to Silicon Valley. There’s a common misconception that Silicon Valley is the accelerator of the world. The real story is that the world keeps getting faster—Silicon Valley is just the first place to figure out how to keep pace. While Silicon Valley certainly has many key networks and resources that make it easier to apply the techniques we’re going to lay out for you, blitzscaling is made up of basic principles that do not depend on geography.
BLITZSCALING IN GREATER SILICON VALLEY One of the interesting developments in the business world over the past decade is how other high-tech ecosystems on the Pacific coast of the United States have become more tightly integrated with Silicon Valley. For most of the twentieth century, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley were very different and differentiated industry hubs. While Silicon Valley specialized in computers, Seattle and Los Angeles both had strong aerospace and defense industries, and each ecosystem also boasted its own market leadership positions in coffee (Seattle) and the entertainment industry (Los Angeles). But in the twenty-first century, Seattle and Los Angeles have also become home to high-tech ecosystems that are increasingly tied to Silicon Valley. In a 2017 article titled “How America’s Two Tech Hubs Are Converging,” the Economist argued that Seattle and Silicon Valley were becoming increasingly intertwined, citing as evidence the fact that most of the venture capital investment in Seattle start-ups has come from Silicon Valley VC firms, and that about thirty Silicon Valley firms had opened Seattle offices to tap into that city’s plentiful supply of computer scientists, while Seattle’s two dominant blitzscalers, Amazon and Microsoft, have thousands of employees working in Silicon Valley.
In a 2017 article titled “How America’s Two Tech Hubs Are Converging,” the Economist argued that Seattle and Silicon Valley were becoming increasingly intertwined, citing as evidence the fact that most of the venture capital investment in Seattle start-ups has come from Silicon Valley VC firms, and that about thirty Silicon Valley firms had opened Seattle offices to tap into that city’s plentiful supply of computer scientists, while Seattle’s two dominant blitzscalers, Amazon and Microsoft, have thousands of employees working in Silicon Valley. Meanwhile, Seattle’s Amazon Web Services has become the cloud computing platform of choice for Silicon Valley start-ups and scale-ups. Los Angeles has also seen impressive growth as a start-up and scale-up hub. According to the research firm CB Insights, Los Angeles–based start-ups took in $3 billion in funding in 2016, up sixfold since 2012.
Troublemakers: Silicon Valley's Coming of Age by Leslie Berlin
AltaVista, Apple II, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, beat the dealer, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Bob Noyce, Byte Shop, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer age, discovery of DNA, don't be evil, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Thorp, El Camino Real, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, game design, Haight Ashbury, hiring and firing, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, inventory management, John Markoff, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, Leonard Kleinrock, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Mother of all demos, packet switching, Ralph Nader, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, union organizing, upwardly mobile, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce
Susan Benner, “Storm Clouds over Silicon Valley,” Inc., September 1982: 84. 3. Pamela G. Hollie, “Companies Compete to Lure Employees: California Computer Suppliers Trying Novel Incentive Plans,” New York Times, April 30, 1980. 4. Association of Bay Area Governments, “Silicon Valley and Beyond: High Technology Growth for the San Francisco Bay Area” (Working Papers on the Region’s Economy, no. 2): 1; “The Silicon Valley Economy,” FRBSF [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco] Weekly Newsletter, no. 92-22 (May 29, 1992). (Jobs increased from 380,000 to 665,000.) Wells Fargo Bank, “Economic Forecast,” 17. 5. Marilyn Chase, “Electronics Firms in ‘Silicon Valley’ Start Exodus Due to Lack of ‘Roofs and Folks,’ ” Wall Street Journal, March 13, 1980; Susan Benner, “Storm Clouds over Silicon Valley,” Inc., September 1982.
Today, when five of the six most valuable companies on the planet are high-tech firms, three based in Silicon Valley;10 when the high-tech sector accounts for 9 percent of US employment, 17 percent of gross domestic product, and 60 percent of US exports;11 when 400 hours of video are uploaded to a single platform (YouTube) every minute,12 and more than 200 billion emails are sent every day;13 when the video game industry is larger than the movie business, and the biotech industry generates $325 billion in revenues in the United States alone;14 when US manufacturing jobs continue to disappear, many of them lost to automation;15 when the electronics manufacturing and equipment industry spends almost $60 million on lobbying in a single year;16 when a sitting US president guest-edits an issue of Wired magazine devoted to the future of innovation, and his successor rides to victory through savvy use of online social networks also blamed for disseminating misinformation; at a time when our relationship with technology is so intimate that 46 percent of Americans say they cannot live without their smartphones and one-third of adults would rather give up sex than their phones17—it makes sense to ask how we got here. Understanding our modern world means understanding Silicon Valley’s breakthrough era, and a close examination of those years makes it clear that Silicon Valley was not built by a few isolated geniuses. Anyone who has worked in Silicon Valley (or anywhere else, for that matter) knows that although the spotlight often has room for only one person, those just outside its illuminated circle are at least as responsible for the success that has given the star a moment of glory. At a party I attended a number of years ago, someone who had served as chief operating officer of a major Silicon Valley company with a superstar CEO sang a little song about this phenomenon. The only lyrics were “I did all the work. He got all the credit.”
It takes a certain kind of audacity to think that you can launch a company, much less invent an industry—and audacity often veers into arrogance. The waves of innovation that have sustained Silicon Valley for the past sixty years have not been an unmitigated good. Waves crash. Undertows are strong. Silicon Valley is more crowded and more expensive than ever, and people who have lived in the Valley for decades can no longer afford to stay. The manufacturing and assembly jobs that supported Vineta and Fawn Alvarez as well as tens of thousands of others have largely disappeared from Silicon Valley, shipped overseas to cheaper markets or replaced by automation. The digital world has exposed, and some would say contributed to, the widening gaps between rich and poor. In Silicon Valley itself, men as a group earn more than women at the same level of educational attainment, and the lowest-earning racial/ethnic group earns 70 percent less than the highest-earning group.9 Waste from electronics is a major cause of pollution around the world.
The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent by Vivek Wadhwa
card file, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Elon Musk, immigration reform, Marc Andreessen, open economy, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, software as a service, the new new thing, Y2K
Indian immigrants outpaced their Chinese counterparts as founders of engineering and technology companies in Silicon Valley. Saxenian reported that 17% of Silicon Valley startups from 1980 to 1998 had a Chinese founder and 7% had an Indian founder. We found that from 1995 to 2005, Indians were key founders of 13.4% of all Silicon Valley startups, and immigrants from China and Taiwan were key founders in 12.8%. The outsized impact of Indian founders was logical. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of Indian scientists and engineers (S&E) in Silicon Valley grew by 646% (while the total foreign-born S&E workforce grew by 246% and the region’s total population of S&E, both native and foreign-born, grew by only 103%). The overall percentage of immigrant-founded companies in Silicon Valley almost perfectly matched the population at large. In Silicon Valley, 52% of the S&E workforce was foreign-born.
Then the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 nearly tripled the number of immigrant visas awarded for special occupational talents, from 54,000 to 140,000.20 In Silicon Valley, the presence of these ambitious, hardworking immigrants quickly became a poorly kept secret. Valley insiders joked that IC engineers—meaning “Indian and Chinese” rather than “integrated circuit” (which is commonly abbreviated as IC)—built the region’s tech industry. Silicon Valley legend and former Stanford engineering professor James Clark (who co-founded Netscape and later WebMD) famously sung the praises of Indian engineers in the pop-culture version of Silicon Valley history and the Internet in Michael Lewis’s book The New New Thing. Few doubted that these immigrant engineers had become significant contributors to the rapid growth and cycle of innovation of Silicon Valley. But how much of a contribution had they made? Using a combination of US Census data and interviews with 175 immigrant entrepreneurs, AnnaLee Saxenian arrived at some surprising conclusions in the report “Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs,” published in 1999.
Using a combination of US Census data and interviews with 175 immigrant entrepreneurs, AnnaLee Saxenian arrived at some surprising conclusions in the report “Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs,” published in 1999. Over a mere two decades, immigrant entrepreneurs in general, and Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs in particular, became a powerful force in Silicon Valley value creation and company formation. She found that Chinese or Indian engineers served as CEOs or leaders at roughly one-quarter of all high-technology businesses in Silicon Valley. The companies they ran accounted for 58,000 (mostly high-paying) jobs and more than $16.8 billion in sales. The swift rise of this cadre from 1980 to 1998 was breathtaking. Indian and Chinese CEOs managed 13% of Silicon Valley tech companies started between 1980 and 1984. That rose to 29% of Valley tech companies started between 1995 and 1998.
Tech Titans of China: How China's Tech Sector Is Challenging the World by Innovating Faster, Working Harder, and Going Global by Rebecca Fannin
Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, call centre, cashless society, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, family office, fear of failure, glass ceiling, global supply chain, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Menlo Park, money market fund, Network effects, new economy, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, QR code, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart transportation, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, young professional
Startup teams in China routinely work 12 hours per day, six days a week, or “996,” as it’s commonly referred to in US-China tech circles. It’s a reminder of Silicon Valley all-nighters during the late 1990s dotcom boom when China’s entrepreneurial boom was only percolating. “China and the US are at different points of economic development and motivation. China’s entrepreneurial culture does make Silicon Valley look sleepy,” says Hans Tung, managing partner at leading venture investment firm GGV Capital in Menlo Park. Mike Moritz, partner at top-tier Sequoia Capital, can’t help but agree. He points out that Chinese entrepreneurs who routinely work 80 hours per week are making their Silicon Valley peers look “lazy and entitled.” “China’s entrepreneurial culture does make Silicon Valley look sleepy.” —Hans Tung Managing partner, GGV Capital When traveling to China, as I’ve done more than 100 times for work, I’ll often have breakfast or lunch meetings on weekends in Beijing or Shanghai.
These Chinese tech titans have taken their cues directly from Silicon Valley venture capitalists. They’ve scoured the Valley for promising startups and based their operations not far from Menlo Park’s storied Sand Hill Road firms that backed winners Google, Facebook, and eBay. Tencent opened an office in a converted church in tech-wealthy Palo Alto, home to Stanford University, and has expanded nearby to a much larger California base. Alibaba keeps an office in San Mateo on California byway El Camino Real, in sight of venture capitalist Tim Draper’s entrepreneurial school Draper University. Baidu has established two research and AI labs in high-tech Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley central. China’s tech titans have co-invested in the United States with many hot-shot Silicon Valley venture firms, including influential Andreessen Horowitz, whose lead partners founded once-dominant web browser Netscape, which was acquired by AOL for $4.2 billion.
They came back in awe of the market potential and the Chinese entrepreneurial machine. Soon, partners at these Northern Californian venture firms were using guest offices at Silicon Valley Bank in Shanghai as their base. Within a few years, many Valley firms established offices in Chinese cities, debuted China-specific funds with local China partners, and inked deals. Considering that American venture leaders from Silicon Valley who entered China were entirely new to the People’s Republic, didn’t know the landscape, weren’t familiar with the culture, didn’t speak the language, and were investing in untested Chinese entrepreneurs, it’s pretty remarkable that several firms have achieved good results. In the early days of venturing in China, led by Silicon Valley firms, several missteps were made. Small teams were stretched to cover the opportunities, partners parachuted in from California couldn’t fill the void, teams hastily put together in new venture outposts clashed, and strategic decisions and tactical moves were called from Silicon Valley rather than the front lines.
The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis
Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, business climate, creative destruction, data acquisition, family office, high net worth, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, pre–internet, risk tolerance, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, the new new thing, Thorstein Veblen, wealth creators, Y2K
I really do think, and not just because I happen to be writing a book about it, that the business of creating and foisting new technology upon others that goes on in Silicon Valley is near the core of the American experience. The United States obviously occupies a strange place in the world. It is the capital of innovation, of material prosperity, of a certain kind of energy, of certain kinds of freedom, and of transience. Silicon Valley is to the United States what the United States is to the rest of the world. It is one of those places, unlike the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but like Las Vegas, that are unimaginable anywhere but in the United States. It is distinctively us. Within this unusual place some people were clearly more unusual than others. Many of those who sought and found fortune in Silicon Valley in the 1990s could just as easily have found it on Wall Street in the 1980s or in London in the 1860s.
From the start of my investigation of Silicon Valley, I knew I was trying to describe a process: how this fantastic wealth got created. It just so happened that the process was best illustrated by this character. After all, the greatest legal creation of wealth in the history of the planet came directly from the new new thing. When you asked, "How is it that an entire economy made this little leap?" you were really asking, "How is it that some person gave an entire economy a little push?" Believe it or not, there are people, inside and outside of Silicon Valley, who consider it almost their duty to find the new new thing. That person may not be entirely typical of our age. (Is anyone?) But he is, in this case, representative: a disruptive force. A catalyst for change and regenera- Page 16 tion. He is to Silicon Valley what Silicon Valley is to America.
"You have Page 34 to be careful where you land a helicopter in Silicon Valley," the cop shouted over the racket. "A while back I had a guy take her down on a golf course. Landed on a driving range. Dumb bastards kept wacking golf balls at us. It was like Vietnam all over again." Down below us a few people wandered in shorts and T-shirts doing the things people do on the fifth of July: mowing lawns, shooting hoops, washing cars. The overwhelming impression made by Silicon Valley at a distance of three thousand feet is one of newness. The houses are new, the grass is new, even the people are new. And not merely new: designed never to grow old. With the exception of Stanford University no structure on the horizon had been built to last any longer than it took some engineer to think up a good excuse to tear it down. Everything in Silicon Valley, including the people, was built so that no one would find it tragic, or even a little bit sad, when it was destroyed and replaced by something new.
Don't Be Evil: How Big Tech Betrayed Its Founding Principles--And All of US by Rana Foroohar
"side hustle", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, AltaVista, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cashless society, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, computer age, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, death of newspapers, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Etonian, Filter Bubble, future of work, game design, gig economy, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Kenneth Rogoff, life extension, light touch regulation, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, PageRank, patent troll, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, price discrimination, profit maximization, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, search engine result page, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, the new new thing, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game
They and other Big Tech firms have also offshored much of their exorbitant profit—according to one estimate done by Credit Suisse in 2019, the top ten companies offshoring the most savings, including Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), and Qualcomm, had $600 billion sitting in overseas accounts11—circumventing the laws and regulations by which ordinary citizens must abide, but which the largest corporations can legally eschew. Silicon Valley has lobbied hard to preserve the tax loopholes that allow all this, bringing to mind the words of economist Mancur Olson, who warned that a civilization declines when the moneyed interests take over its politics.12 Certainly, many public officials I spoke with echoed my concerns. Silicon Valley was, after all, built around government—that is, taxpayer—funded innovation. Everything from GPS mapping to touch screens to the Internet itself came out of research originally done or funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, and was later commercialized by Silicon Valley. Yet unlike many other countries, including a number of thriving free markets such as Finland and Israel, the U.S. taxpayer does not reap a penny of the profits these innovations yield.13 Instead, these companies were offshoring both profits and labor at the very time that tech titans were asking the government to spend more money on things like educational reform to ensure that the twenty-first-century workforce would be digitally savvy.
In those innocent days, the coolest kid in the Valley was probably Kim Polese, the whiz kid behind Sun Microsystems’ Java, a customizable, sound-and-graphics-enabled programming platform that brought the Internet to life. Kim was dubbed the “Madonna of Silicon Valley,” named one of Time magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans on the Internet, and even appeared on the cover of Fortune. Silicon Valley was a far more playful place back then, before the big money hit, and I was psyched to attend Polese’s launch party for her new company, Marimba. I remember that it was full of interesting, open, energetic, and unpretentious people who seemed genuinely excited about creating the New New Thing. It was mostly guys starting the businesses back then (as it is now); Polese was one of the first women to break into the boys’ club of Silicon Valley, an early prototype, as it were, of more recognizable names such as Marissa Mayer, then the Yahoo CEO, and more recently Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, the queen to Zuckerberg’s king.
Mancur Olson, The Rise and Decline of Nations (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1982). 13. Rana Foroohar, “Why You Can Thank the Government for Your iPhone,” Time, October 27, 2015. 14. Author interview with John Battelle in 2017. 15. Rana Foroohar, “Echoes of Wall Street in Silicon Valley’s Grip on Money and Power,” Financial Times, July 3, 2017. 16. Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, “Google, Once Disdainful of Lobbying, Now a Master of Washington,” The Washington Post, April 12, 2014. 17. Rana Foroohar, “Silicon Valley Has Too Much Power,” Financial Times, May 14, 2017; Foroohar, “Echoes of Wall Street in Silicon Valley’s Grip.” 18. Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power (New York: Public Affairs, 2019), introductory page. 19. Shoshana Zuboff, “Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization,” Journal of Information Technology, April 17, 2015. 20.
The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class by Joel Kotkin
Admiral Zheng, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, creative destruction, deindustrialization, demographic transition, don't be evil, Donald Trump, edge city, Elon Musk, European colonialism, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google bus, guest worker program, Hans Rosling, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, liberal capitalism, life extension, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, megacity, Nate Silver, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Parag Khanna, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, post-work, postindustrial economy, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Satyajit Das, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superstar cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator
Visual Capitalist, June 15, 2017, http://www.visualcapitalist.com/companies-revenue-per-employee/. 31 Nikhil Swaminathan, “Inside the Growing Guest Worker Program Trapping Indian Students in Virtual Servitude,” Mother Jones, September/October 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/09/inside-the-growing-guest-worker-program-trapping-indian-students-in-virtual-servitude. 32 Sam Levin, “Black and Latino representation in Silicon Valley has declined, study shows,” Guardian, October 3, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/03/silicon-valley-diversity-black-latino-women-decline-study. 33 Seung Lee, “‘These are poverty-level jobs in Facebook’: Silicon Valley security officers protest for better wages,” Mercury News, June 18, 2018, https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/06/15/these-are-poverty-level-jobs-in-facebook-silicon-valley-security-officers-protest-for-better-wages/; Julia Carrie Wong, “Silicon Valley subcontracting makes income inequality worse, report finds,” Guardian, March 30, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/30/silicon-valley-subcontracting-income-inequality-worse-report. 34 Kathleen Elkins, “Several Google employees say they’ve lived in the company parking lot—here’s why they did it,” Business Insider, October 30, 2015, https://www.businessinsider.com/why-google-employees-live-in-the-parking-lot-2015-10; Robert Johnson, “Welcome to ‘The Jungle’: The Largest Homeless Camp in Mainland USA Is Right in the Heart of Silicon Valley” Business Insider, September 7, 2013, https://www.businessinsider.com/the-jungle-largest-homeless-camp-in-us-2013-8. 35 Brenner and Pastor, Equity, Growth and Community, 168. 36 Antonio García Martínez, “How Silicon Valley Fuels an Informal Caste System,” Wired, July 9, 2018, https://www.wired.com/story/how-silicon-valley-fuels-an-informal-caste-system/. 37 Ibid. 38 Jeff Daniels, “Nearly half of California’s gig economy workers struggling with poverty,” CNBC, August 28, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/28/about-half-of-californias-gig-economy-workers-struggling-with-poverty.html. 39 Nick Srnicek, “We need to nationalize Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
Reuters, January 4, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-cities-tech-inequality/wi-fi-but-no-water-can-smart-tech-help-a-citys-poor-idUSKBN1EU0JF. 3 William Mitchell, City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999), 50. 4 Luke Stangel, “Sam Altman wants Silicon Valley to sign on to a core set of common values,” Silicon Valley Business Journal, April 19, 2017, https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2017/04/19/sam-altman-donald-trump-silicon-valley.html. 5 Jane Wakefield, “Tomorrow’s Cities—nightmare vision of the future?” BBC, February 22, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-37384152. 6 Greg Ferenstein, “Silicon Valley’s political endgame, summarized in 12 visuals,” Medium, November 5, 2015, https://medium.com/the-ferenstein-wire/silicon-valley-s-political-endgame-summarized-1f395785f3c1. 7 Geoff Nesnow, “73 Mind-blowing Implications of Driverless Cars and Trucks,” Medium, February 9, 2018, https://medium.com/@DonotInnovate/73-mind-blowing-implications-of-a-driverless-future-58d23d1f338d; Steve Andriole, “Already Too Big to Fail—The Digital Oligarchy Is Alive, Well (& Growing),” Forbes, July 29, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveandriole/2017/07/29/already-too-big-to-fail-the-digital-oligarchy-is-alive-well-growing/#71125b7667f5. 8 Marisa Kendall, “Tech execs back California bill that aims to build more housing near transit,” Mercury News, January 25, 2018, https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/01/24/tech-execs-back-bill-that-aims-to-build-more-housing-near-transit/. 9 Ferenstein, “Silicon Valley’s political endgame, summarized in 12 visuals.” 10 Nellie Bowles, “Dorm Living for Professionals Comes for San Francisco,” New York Times, March 4, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/technology/dorm-living-grown-ups-san-francisco.html; Emmie Martin, “Facebook and Google are both building more affordable housing in Silicon Valley,” CNBC, July 10, 2017, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/07/facebook-and-google-are-building-affordable-housing-in-silicon-valley.html; Avery Hartmans, “Facebook is building a village that will include housing, a grocery store and a hotel,” Business Insider, July 7, 2017, https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-building-employee-housing-silicon-valley-headquarters-2017-7. 11 Ben Tarnoff, “Tech’s push to teach coding isn’t about kids’ success—it’s about cutting wages,” Guardian, September 21, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/21/coding-education-teaching-silicon-valley-wages. 12 Gerard C.
Cities Have a Glut of High-Rises and Still Lack Affordable Housing,” New Geography, September 3, 2017, http://www.newgeography.com/content/005732-us-cities-have-a-glut-of-high-rises-and-still-lack-affordable-housing. 13 Erika Riggs, “Mark Zuckerberg spends $30 million on four homes to ensure privacy,” NBC News, October 12, 2013, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/real-estate/mark-zuckerberg-spends-30-million-four-homes-ensure-privacy-f8C11379396; Melia Robinson, “We scouted the homes of the top tech executives, and they all live in this San Francisco suburb for the1%,” Business Insider, October 7, 2017, https://www.businessinsider.com/homes-of-tech-ceos-in-atherton-silicon-valley-2017-10; Meredith Bauer, “8 Amazing Homes of Silicon Valley’s Tech Elite,” The Street, May 23, 2015, https://www.thestreet.com/story/13160991/1/8-amazing-homes-of-silicon-valleys-tech-elite.html#3. 14 Veena Dubal, “Google as a landlord? A looming feudal nightmare,” Guardian, July 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/11/google-as-a-landlord-a-looming-feudal-nightmare?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other. 15 Michele Lent Hirsch, “America’s Company Towns, Then and Now,” Smithsonian, September 4, 2015, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/americas-company-towns-then-and-now-180956382/. 16 Andrew S. Ross, “In Silicon Valley, Age Can Be a Curse,” SFGate, August 20, 2013, https://www.sfgate.com/business/bottomline/article/In-Silicon-Valley-age-can-be-a-curse-4742365.php. 17 Susan Crawford, “Beware of Google’s Intentions,” Wired, February 1, 2018, https://www.wired.com/story/sidewalk-labs-toronto-google-risks/; Sidewalk Toronto, “Toronto Tomorrow,” https://sidewalktoronto.ca/#documents; Vipal Monga, “Toronto Oicials Question Alphabet Unit’s Ambitions for ‘Smart City,’” Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/toronto-officials-question-alphabet-units-ambitions-for-smart-city-11561412851. 18 “Sidewalk Labs’s vision and your data privacy: A guide to the saga on Toronto’s waterfront,” Globe and Mail, June 24, 2019, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/toronto/article-sidewalk-labs-quayside-toronto-waterfront-explainer/. 19 Crawford, “Beware of Google’s Intentions.” 20 “Albert Gidari,” Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School, http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/about/people/albert-gidari. 21 Yulia Gorbunova, “Online and On All Fronts,” Human Rights Watch, July 18, 2017, https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/07/18/online-and-all-fronts/russias-assault-freedom-expression; Leopord Hakizimana and Dr.
Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger McNamee
4chan, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Boycotts of Israel, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, computer age, cross-subsidies, data is the new oil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, game design, income inequality, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, laissez-faire capitalism, Lean Startup, light touch regulation, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, minimum viable product, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, post-work, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, The Chicago School, Tim Cook: Apple, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War
There were women in tech, too, more than in past generations of Silicon Valley, but the culture continued to be dominated by men who failed to appreciate the obvious benefits of treating women as peers. Too many in Silicon Valley missed the lesson that treating others as equals is what good people do. For them, I make a simple economic case: women are 51 percent of the US population; they account for 85 percent of consumer purchases; they control 60 percent of all personal wealth. They know what they want better than men do, yet in Silicon Valley, which invests billions in consumer-facing startups, men hold most of the leadership positions. Women who succeed often do so by beating the boys at their own game, something that Silicon Valley women do with ever greater frequency. Bloomberg journalist Emily Chang described this culture brilliantly in her book, Brotopia.
The sad thing is how consistent the personalities and behaviors depicted in these stories are with the Facebook people caught in the glare of election interference and Cambridge Analytica. There are several good books about the culture in Silicon Valley. A good place to start is Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley, by Emily Chang (New York: Portfolio, 2018). Chang is the host of Bloomberg Technology, the show on which I interviewed Tristan in April 2017, after his appearance on 60 Minutes. (Emily was on maternity leave that day!) The domination of Silicon Valley by young Asian and Caucasian men seems foundational to the culture that built Facebook, YouTube, and the others. Chang cuts to the heart of the matter. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, by Antonio García Martínez (New York: Harper, 2016), is the inside story of an engineer who started a company, ran out of money, got a gig in advertising technology at Facebook, and was there during the formative years of the business practices that enabled Cambridge Analytica.
Hiltzik (New York: HarperBusiness, 1999), takes the reader inside the research center in Palo Alto where Steve Jobs saw the future. Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age, by Leslie Berlin (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017), tells the story of the men and women, some well known, others obscure, who helped to build Silicon Valley. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, by Walter Isaacson (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014), looks back on the key people whose work created Silicon Valley. What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, by John Markoff (New York: Viking, 2005), shows how hippie culture became the culture of the PC industry. Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1968) is a helpful introduction to the culture embraced by a core group in Silicon Valley at a critical time.
The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley by Leslie Berlin
Apple II, Bob Noyce, business cycle, collective bargaining, computer age, George Gilder, informal economy, John Markoff, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, means of production, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, open economy, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, union organizing, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War
One year later, the Congressional Joint Economic Committee issued a study that concluded, “High technology companies offer a brighter future for America but they [also] offer salvation for those regions of America that have borne the brunt of our economic decline.”17 In the mid-1980s, regions across the country and around the world began trumpeting their high quality of life and low cost of living to trafficand mortgage-weary technologists in Silicon Valley. “Remember the Silicon Valley as it was 20 Years Ago? That’s Albuquerque Today!” promised one representative advertisement in the San Jose Business Journal. By 1989, the United States boasted regions calling themselves Silicon Forest (Portland, Oregon), Silicon Gulch (Phoenix, Arizona), Bionic Valley (Salt Lake City), Silicon Valley East (Troy-Albany, New York), Silicon Prairie (Dallas, Austin), and Silicon Mountain (Colorado Springs). Several European and Asian countries also possessed technology regions named in homage to Silicon Valley.18 Arguably the most successful of the American “Silicon Elsewheres,” as they were derisively called on the San Francisco Peninsula, was Austin, Texas.
Business machine: Andy Grove, handwritten notes titled “Stanford talk—Si Valley,” IA. Look around Silicon Valley: Noyce quoted in “Bob Noyce talks to Upside,” Upside, July 1990 [interview date is 23 May 1990]. Former Stanford Dean of Engineering James Gibbons, a long-time participant in and observer of Silicon 356 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. Notes to Pages 255–258 Valley, makes the identical point—“the heroes in Silicon Valley are the entrepreneurs” in James F. Gibbons, “The Role of Stanford University: A Dean’s Reflections,” in The Silicon Valley Edge: A Habitat for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ed. Chong-Moon Lee, William F. Miller, Marguerite Gong Hancock, and Henry S. Rowen (Stanford: Stanford University Press), 200–217. Why do we love: Martin Meeker, “Silicon Valley’s Silver Lining,” (Letter to the Editor), Inc., Dec. 1982, 11.
“Silicon Chips and Spatial Structure: The Industrial Basis of Urbanization in Santa Clara County, California,” Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development Working Paper 345. ———. “The Genesis of Silicon Valley,” in Silicon Landscapes, ed. Peter Hall and Ann Markusen, 20–34. Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1985. ———. “Contrasting Patterns of Business Organization in Silicon Valley,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol. 10, 377–391. ———. “In Search of Power: The Organization of Business Interests in Silicon Valley and Route 128” Economy and Society, Vol. 18, February 1989, 25–70. ———. Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994. Schaeffer, Dorothy. “Management by Objectives.” Supervision, July 1978, 4. Schoonhoven, Claudia Bird. “High Technology Firms: Where Strategy Really Pays Off.”
The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti
assortative mating, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, business climate, call centre, cleantech, cloud computing, corporate raider, creative destruction, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, financial innovation, global village, hiring and firing, income inequality, industrial cluster, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, medical residency, Menlo Park, new economy, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Productivity paradox, Richard Florida, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Skype, special economic zone, Startup school, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, thinkpad, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Wall-E, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
This argument has continued to resonate. The idea is that no matter where people live, they can share knowledge and move products at virtually no cost. According to this view, the good jobs, now concentrated in high-cost locations such as Silicon Valley and Boston, will quickly disperse to low-cost locations, both in the United States and abroad. An experienced software engineer in India makes $35,000. The same person in Silicon Valley makes $140,000. Why would U.S. firms keep hiring in Silicon Valley when they could save so much by outsourcing? By the same token, if labor costs are three times higher in Silicon Valley than in Mobile, Alabama, companies will eventually relocate to Alabama. This process of dispersion, the argument goes, will be faster than the dispersion of manufacturing jobs, because moving software codes across DSL lines is easier than moving bulky goods across borders.
The forces of attraction provide an important advantage, but once-mighty clusters have collapsed in spectacular ways. In its heyday, the Detroit auto industry was one of the country’s most important innovation hubs, arguably the Silicon Valley of its time. Like Silicon Valley today, Detroit was full of technologically superior companies that were the envy of the world. The economist Steven Klepper has shown that to an astonishing degree, the rise of Silicon Valley has been tracking the earlier rise of Detroit in terms of population, employment, startup creation, and innovation. Thus, Detroit’s remarkable trajectory holds important lessons for the future of our current innovation hubs. Just like Silicon Valley today, Detroit used to think of its primacy as unassailable. In the 1940s and 1950s, its dominance of the auto industry appeared so strong that everyone started wanting a piece of it.
Observers predicted the end of the Valley’s global dominance. But the pessimists were by and large wrong. Silicon Valley has remained the innovation capital of the world, and it continues to lead all other metropolitan regions in the breadth and scope of its innovative activity. It accounts for more than a third of all venture capital investment, significantly more than twenty years ago. Every year hundreds of smart, ambitious innovators move their startups from Europe, Israel, and Asia to Silicon Valley. The Valley keeps its position as the world’s number-one innovation hub not because those who are born there are smarter than anyone else but because of its unparalleled power to attract great ideas and great talent from elsewhere. After Silicon Valley, Austin stands out. It is a latecomer, but its rate of growth, spurred by computer and electronic products, has been spectacular over the past two decades.
Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley's Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime by Julian Guthrie
Airbnb, Apple II, barriers to entry, blockchain, Bob Noyce, call centre, cloud computing, credit crunch, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, fear of failure, game design, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, new economy, PageRank, peer-to-peer, pets.com, phenotype, place-making, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, TaskRabbit, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, urban decay, web application, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce
All Raise would be the political arm of the women’s VC movement, while Broadway Angels remained the investing platform. Men who behaved badly were being put on notice, and many firms in Silicon Valley were hiring more women as principals and partners. That marked progress. But the real work, the heavy lifting, was more challenging. It was the deeper problem of bias. MJ knew that the “bro culture,” and stories of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley, were an everyday reality, but she also knew that was not the entire story. She had worked with ethical partners at IVP and elsewhere who looked past gender and always treated her respectfully. She had found Silicon Valley an amazing place to work. She had blazed trails and built game-changing companies. Her problems around gender had been closer to home. Even when she was working full-time, she didn’t ask Bill to step up and do more.
MORE ADVANCE PRAISE FOR ALPHA GIRLS “An intimate and addictive homage to the fearless female pioneers who made Silicon Valley blossom. Julian’s vivid portrayals of once-hidden risk takers and mavericks will leave you heartbroken, hopeful, and hungering for more.” —Brian Keating, professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, and author of Losing the Nobel Prize “Finally, it’s here: a book about Silicon Valley as seen through the accomplishments of the powerful women who, against all odds, made their mark there. Alpha Girls offers an inside look at the true meaning of grit and drive and upends the myth that it is only men who create and build tech companies. For any young woman in search of a role model, or any young man too, Alpha Girls is a must-read.” —Caroline Paul, author of The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure “Alpha Girls is about four women in a high-stakes, high-drama world.
They are being pulled out from behind the gender curtain and given their rightful place in contemporary history.” —Cathy Schulman, president of Welle Entertainment, Academy Award–winning producer, and women’s activist “Julian Guthrie is the best author writing about Silicon Valley today, and Alpha Girls is the book that the world needs right now. It’s the real story behind the largest legal creation of wealth in the history of the planet. If you are a woman who works, or simply work with women, Alpha Girls is essential reading.” —Adam Fisher, author of Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) Copyright © 2019 by Julian Guthrie All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Currency, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
"side hustle", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, always be closing, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, call centre, Chris Urmson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, corporate governance, creative destruction, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, family office, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, high net worth, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kickstarter, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, money market fund, moral hazard, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, off grid, peer-to-peer, pets.com, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, software as a service, software is eating the world, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, union organizing, upwardly mobile, Y Combinator
., https://twitter.com/sarahcuda/status/502228907068641280. 121 tone-deaf response: “Statement On New Year’s Eve Accident,” Uber (blog), https://web.archive.org/web/20140103020522/http://blog.uber.com/2014/01/01/statement-on-new-years-eve-accident/. 122 read the headline: Lacy, “The Horrific Trickle Down of Asshole Culture. 122 Kalanick’s obsession with China: Erik Gordon, “Uber’s Didi Deal Dispels Chinese ‘El Dorado’ Myth Once and For All,” The Conversation, http://theconversation.com/ubers-didi-deal-dispels-chinese-el-dorado-myth-once-and-for-all-63624. 124 Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business: American Bar, “Salle Yoo,” https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/science_technology/2016/salle_yoo.authcheckdam.pdf. 126 “no fear in Silicon Valley”: Mike Isaac, “Silicon Valley Investor Warns of Bubble at SXSW,” Bits (blog), New York Times, March 15, 2015, https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/silicon-valley-investor-says-the-end-is-near/. 127 Manhattan’s Flatiron District: Johana Bhuiyan, “Uber’s Travis Kalanick Takes ‘Charm Offensive’ To New York City,” BuzzFeedNews, November 14, 2014, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/johanabhuiyan/ubers-travis-kalanick-takes-charm-offensive-to-new-york-city. 128 hard-hitting news organization: Mike Isaac, “50 Million New Reasons BuzzFeed Wants to Take Its Content Far Beyond Lists,” New York Times, August 10, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/11/technology/a-move-to-go-beyond-lists-for-content-at-buzzfeed.html. 130 “Uber’s dirt-diggers”: Ben Smith, “Uber Executive Suggests Digging Up Dirt On Journalists,” BuzzFeedNews, November 17, 2014, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/bensmith/uber-executive-suggests-digging-up-dirt-on-journalists. Chapter 14: CULTURE WARS 132 “the crazy ones”: http://www.thecrazyones.it/spot-en.html. 132 went into the technology sector: Natalie Kitroeff and Patrick Clark, “Silicon Valley May Want MBAs More Than Wall Street Does,” Bloomberg Businessweek, March 17, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-17/silicon-valley-mba-destination. 132 nearly a quarter of them: Gina Hall, “MBAs are Increasingly Finding a Home in Silicon Valley,” Silicon Valley Business Learning, March 18, 2016, https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2016/03/18/mbas-are-increasingly-finding-a-home-in-silicon.html. 133 “In a meritocracy”: Uber’s list of 14 values, obtained by author. 134 Mohrer tweeted: Winston Mohrer (@WinnTheDog), “#Shittybike #lyft,” Twitter, July 11, 2018, 7:21 a.m., https://twitter.com/WinnTheDog/status/1017005971107909633. 135 designed an algorithm: Caroline O’Donovan and Priya Anand, “How Uber’s Hard-Charging Corporate Culture Left Employees Drained,” BuzzFeedNews, July 17, 2017, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/carolineodonovan/how-ubers-hard-charging-corporate-culture-left-employees#.wpdMljap9. 135 “This Safe Rides Fee supports”: “What Is the Safe Rides Fee?
., https://twitter.com/sarahcuda/status/502228907068641280. 121 tone-deaf response: “Statement On New Year’s Eve Accident,” Uber (blog), https://web.archive.org/web/20140103020522/http://blog.uber.com/2014/01/01/statement-on-new-years-eve-accident/. 122 read the headline: Lacy, “The Horrific Trickle Down of Asshole Culture. 122 Kalanick’s obsession with China: Erik Gordon, “Uber’s Didi Deal Dispels Chinese ‘El Dorado’ Myth Once and For All,” The Conversation, http://theconversation.com/ubers-didi-deal-dispels-chinese-el-dorado-myth-once-and-for-all-63624. 124 Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business: American Bar, “Salle Yoo,” https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/science_technology/2016/salle_yoo.authcheckdam.pdf. 126 “no fear in Silicon Valley”: Mike Isaac, “Silicon Valley Investor Warns of Bubble at SXSW,” Bits (blog), New York Times, March 15, 2015, https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/silicon-valley-investor-says-the-end-is-near/. 127 Manhattan’s Flatiron District: Johana Bhuiyan, “Uber’s Travis Kalanick Takes ‘Charm Offensive’ To New York City,” BuzzFeedNews, November 14, 2014, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/johanabhuiyan/ubers-travis-kalanick-takes-charm-offensive-to-new-york-city. 128 hard-hitting news organization: Mike Isaac, “50 Million New Reasons BuzzFeed Wants to Take Its Content Far Beyond Lists,” New York Times, August 10, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/11/technology/a-move-to-go-beyond-lists-for-content-at-buzzfeed.html. 130 “Uber’s dirt-diggers”: Ben Smith, “Uber Executive Suggests Digging Up Dirt On Journalists,” BuzzFeedNews, November 17, 2014, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/bensmith/uber-executive-suggests-digging-up-dirt-on-journalists.
Uber’s rapid rise was nearly undone in 2017, as the company faced the consequences of years of Kalanick’s boundary-pushing behavior, unabashed pugnacity and, eventually, the CEO’s own personal decline. Kalanick’s story is whispered as a cautionary tale for founders and venture capitalists alike, emblematic of both the best and worst of Silicon Valley. The saga of Uber—which is, essentially, the story of Travis Kalanick—is a tale of hubris and excess set against a technological revolution, with billions of dollars and the future of transportation at stake. It’s a story that touches on the major themes of Silicon Valley in the last decade: how rapid developments in technology can crash into long-entrenched labor systems, throw urban development into upheaval, and overturn an entire industry in a matter of years. It is the story of a deeply sexist industry, fueled by gender imbalance and a misguided belief in a tech-supported meritocracy, blind to its own biases.
The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Brian Krebs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, connected car, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Brooks, disintermediation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, distributed ledger, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, fiat currency, future of work, global supply chain, Google X / Alphabet X, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lifelogging, litecoin, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mikhail Gorbachev, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Nelson Mandela, new economy, offshore financial centre, open economy, Parag Khanna, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Satoshi Nakamoto, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, social graph, software as a service, special economic zone, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, Travis Kalanick, underbanked, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, young professional
SIX THE GEOGRAPHY OF FUTURE MARKETS World leaders take notice: the 21st century is a terrible time to be a control freak. “We want to create our own Silicon Valley.” If there’s a single sentence I’ve heard in every country I’ve been to, it’s this one. Silicon Valley has been home to technology-driven innovation for a long time, but the 20-year period from 1994 to 2014 was something special. People all over the world witnessed a spectacular level of innovation and wealth creation, all emerging from a small 30-mile long, 15-mile-wide strip of Northern California. Other states and countries have been attempting to build the “next Silicon Valley” for years now. At this point, there’s even a formula. As Marc Andreessen writes: The popular recipe for creating the “next” Silicon Valley goes something like this: • Build a big, beautiful, fully equipped technology park; • Mix in R&D labs and university centers; • Provide incentives to attract scientists, firms and users; • Interconnect the industry through consortia and specialized suppliers; • Protect intellectual property and tech transfer; and, • Establish a favorable business environment and regulations.
DOMAIN EXPERTISE With the industries of the future, new avenues of opportunity for countries and people alike will hinge on domain expertise—deep knowledge about a single industry, which tends to concentrate in specific cities or regions. Detroit has domain expertise in cars, Paris has it in fashion, and Silicon Valley has it in Internet-based businesses. Domain expertise for the industries of the future is still broadly distributed. To understand domain expertise, consider the following question: Why do a ridiculously high percentage of Internet companies still come out of Silicon Valley when massive investment is being made around the world to compete with it? Many factors are at play, but domain expertise is the most important. For more than 20 years, the world’s best computer scientists have overwhelmingly been based in Silicon Valley. They could have been born anywhere, but they came to Silicon Valley for school (Stanford or Berkeley), employment (which creates a self-reinforcing cycle that concentrates talent), and investment (with the Valley offering far and away the most access to early-stage capital in the world).
It is also the case that while the powers that be in Silicon Valley might not be the earliest movers in fields like precision agriculture, once success is achieved elsewhere, they don’t just sit back as passive bystanders and watch it grow. Google chairman Eric Schmidt recruited an Israeli entrepreneur, Dror Berman, to move to Silicon Valley and head up Innovation Endeavors, a large venture firm that invests Schmidt’s money. Israel is home to many of the 20th century’s great innovations in farming. Berman brought the intellectual curiosity about agriculture with him to Silicon Valley and developed Farm2050, a partnership that aspires to combine data science and robotics to improve farming with a group of partners as diverse as Google, DuPont, and 3D Robotics. Dror recognized that Silicon Valley can be a little too navel-gazing, and told me that 90 percent of the region’s entrepreneurs focus on 10 percent of the world’s problems.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
addicted to oil, Burning Man, cleantech, digital map, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, global supply chain, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mercator projection, money market fund, multiplanetary species, optical character recognition, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, paypal mafia, performance metric, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize
On this occasion, for example, Musk’s assistant had just handed him some cookies-and-cream ice cream with sprinkles on top, and he then talked earnestly about saving humanity while a blotch of the dessert hung from his lower lip. Musk’s ready willingness to tackle impossible things has turned him into a deity in Silicon Valley, where fellow CEOs like Page speak of him in reverential awe, and budding entrepreneurs strive “to be like Elon” just as they had been striving in years past to mimic Steve Jobs. Silicon Valley, though, operates within a warped version of reality, and outside the confines of its shared fantasy, Musk often comes off as a much more polarizing figure. He’s the guy with the electric cars, solar panels, and rockets peddling false hope. Forget Steve Jobs. Musk is a sci-fi version of P. T. Barnum who has gotten extraordinarily rich by preying on people’s fear and self-hatred.
Musk had struck me as a well-intentioned dreamer—a card-carrying member of Silicon Valley’s techno-utopian club. This group tends to be a mix of Ayn Rand devotees and engineer absolutists who see their hyperlogical worldviews as the Answer for everyone. If we’d just get out of their way, they’d fix all our problems. One day, soon enough, we’ll be able to download our brains to a computer, relax, and let their algorithms take care of everything. Much of their ambition proves inspiring and their works helpful. But the techno-utopians do get tiresome with their platitudes and their ability to prattle on for hours without saying much of substance. More disconcerting is their underlying message that humans are flawed and our humanity is an annoying burden that needs to be dealt with in due course. When I’d caught Musk at Silicon Valley events, his highfalutin talk often sounded straight out of the techno-utopian playbook.
Let it be said for the record, then, that the implosion of the get-rich-quick Internet fantasy left San Francisco and Silicon Valley in a deep depression. The endless parties ended. The prostitutes no longer roamed the streets of the Tenderloin at 6 A.M. offering pre-commute love. (“Come on, honey. It’s better than coffee!”) Instead of the Barenaked Ladies, you got the occasional Neil Diamond tribute band at a trade show, some free T-shirts, and a lump of shame. The technology industry had no idea what to do with itself. The dumb venture capitalists who had been taken during the bubble didn’t want to look any dumber, so they stopped funding new ventures altogether. Entrepreneurs’ big ideas were replaced by the smallest of notions. It was as if Silicon Valley had entered rehab en masse. It sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. A populace of millions of clever people came to believe that they were inventing the future.
How to American: An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents by Jimmy O. Yang
“If you do this show, you can’t do Silicon Valley anymore, because Yahoo wants you exclusively on their show.” Nothing is ever perfect, is it? I wasn’t sure if I was going to be back on Silicon Valley, but if HBO called me to be back on the second season, I knew it was something I couldn’t pass up. The first season of Silicon Valley was already nominated for the Emmys and Golden Globes; it was on its way to becoming a big hit. It meant everything for my career to book my first series-regular job, but how could I turn down a possible second season of an Emmy-nominated HBO show with Mike Judge? I was torn. I knew I’d make at least twenty times more money as a series regular on Sin City Saints than the union minimum nine hundred dollars guest starring on Silicon Valley. And trust me, I cared about the money.
This was exactly how I got my material. This exchange with my dad at the MGM would eventually make it into my set. When my dad finally watched an episode of Silicon Valley he said, “I don’t think your stand-up is funny, but I think Silicon Valley is very funny. You and your big white roommate are funny together.” That’s probably the nicest thing he’d ever say about my career. In a Chinese family, we never say, “I love you.” That was his equivalent of a crying father hugging his son after winning the state championship football game. “I love you son, I’m so proud of you.” After all, Dad wasn’t a full-on hater. He didn’t understand stand-up, but the dynamic between me and T. J. Miller on Silicon Valley was like the xiang sheng that he grew up with in China, and my deadpan delivery was like the Stephen Chow movies we watched back in Hong Kong.
But I ignored that econ degree the same way I did when I left Smith Barney to do stand-up. I followed my gut. “Jane, I’d rather be a small part of a great show than a big part of an unknown show.” I put my foot down. “I really want to do Sin City Saints, but they need to let me do Silicon Valley.” I didn’t know much about the business, but I knew I couldn’t give up on Silicon Valley. Jane’s joyous tone suddenly turned heavy, but she knew I was making the right decision. “Let me call Yahoo. Let me see what I can do.” When she hung up, I started second-guessing everything I’d just said. Was that the right decision? What if I lose out on Sin City Saints and Silicon Valley doesn’t call me back? Am I going to be driving Uber for eternity? My stress level went into overdrive. I didn’t know what to do, so I left my apartment and just started walking in a random direction. Twenty minutes into my stress wandering, Jane finally called back.
Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff
"Robert Solow", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gunnar Myrdal, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game
While most businesspeople were still chained to their BlackBerrys, the Sidekick found popularity among young people and hipsters, many of whom switched from PalmPilots. Rubin was a member of a unique “Band of Brothers” who passed through Apple Computer in the 1980s, a generation of young computer engineers who came of age in Silicon Valley as disciples of Steve Jobs. Captivated by Jobs’s charisma and his dedication to using good design and computing technology as levers to “change the world,” they set out independently on their own technology quests. The Band of Brothers reflected the tremendous influence Jobs’s Macintosh project had on an entire Silicon Valley generation, and many stayed friends for years afterward. Silicon Valley’s best and brightest believed deeply in bringing the Next Big Thing to millions of people. Rubin’s robot obsession, however, was extraordinary, even by the standards of his technology-obsessed engineering friends.
Population Projections: 2005–2050,” Social & Demographic Trends, Pew Research Center, February 11, 2008, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2008/02/11/us-population-projections-2005-2050. 56.“Baby Boomers Retire,” Pew Research Center, December 29, 2010 http://www.pewresearch.org/daily-number/baby-boomers-retire. 4|THE RISE, FALL, AND RESURRECTION OF AI 1.David C. Brock, “How William Shockley’s Robot Dream Helped Launch Silicon Valley,” IEEE Spectrum, November 29, 2013, http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/how-william-shockleys-robot-dream-helped-launch-silicon-valley. 2.David C. Brock, “From Automation to Silicon Valley: The Automation Movement of the 1950s, Arnold Beckman, and William Shockley,” History and Technology 28, no. 4 (2012), http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07341512.2012.756236#.VQTPKCbHi_A. 3.Ibid. 4.John Markoff, “Robotic Vehicles Race, but Innovation Wins,” New York Times, September 14, 2005. 5.John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (New York: Viking, 2005). 6.Pamela McCorduck, Machines Who Think: A Personal Inquiry into the History and Prospects of Artificial Intelligence, 2nd ed.
By 2010 he had a deep surprise in store for an industry that did not change easily and was largely unfamiliar with Silicon Valley culture.5 The DARPA races created ripples in Detroit, the cradle of the American automotive industry, but the industry kept to its traditional position that cars were meant to be driven by people and should not operate autonomously. By and large the industry had generally resisted computer technology. Many car manufacturers adhered to a “computers are buggy” philosophy. However, engineers elsewhere in the country were beginning to think about transportation through the new lens of cheap sensors, the microprocessor, and the Internet. In the spring of 2010, rumors about an experimental Google car began to float around Silicon Valley. Initially they sounded preposterous. The company, nominally a provider of Internet search, was supposedly hiding the cars in plain sight.
Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream by Nicholas Lemann
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Black-Scholes formula, buy and hold, capital controls, computerized trading, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, new economy, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, universal basic income, War on Poverty, white flight, working poor
Was there another organizing principle, beyond institutions and transactions? If you went looking for one, you might well wind up in Silicon Valley, the narrow band of territory that ran along the western edge of the San Francisco Bay and was home to suddenly enormous companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook. Silicon Valley was primarily a business site, but—just as the people who built the great industrial corporations of the early twentieth century also had a social vision in which they themselves occupied a central position—the leaders of Silicon Valley considered themselves to be far more than merely economically successful. They also knew how the world should work in the new century. The official founding date of Silicon Valley was 1939, when two young engineers, William Hewlett and David Packard, founded Hewlett-Packard, an electronic instrument company, in a garage not far from the campus of their alma mater, Stanford University.
When the website associated with Obama’s health-care reform legislation had an unsuccessful debut, Hoffman was part of a group of Silicon Valley executives that organized a rescue operation. Pincus had been granted a forty-five-minute private audience with Obama in the Oval Office, where he gave the president a PowerPoint presentation on “the product-management approach to government,” and he also spoke to Obama on the phone occasionally. Hoffman regularly attended meetings and dinners at the White House, including a small gathering in 2015 to discuss Obama’s postpresidential future, and he organized a meeting in Silicon Valley to advise the people who were setting up Obama’s foundation on how to harness the power of social networks. On Obama’s regular visits to Silicon Valley, Hoffman was usually on the list of people who saw him. Silicon Valley was also, by now, an important Democratic Party business interest group.
On Hoffman’s office wall were framed photographs, impossible for any visitor to miss, of himself with Obama, Bloomberg, and Bill Clinton. Once, at a private meeting for big donors from the entertainment industry, one of the guests asked Obama why he had sided with Silicon Valley over Hollywood during a fierce regulatory battle over copyright law in 2011 and 2012: Hollywood, the makers of content, was for stricter protections, and Silicon Valley, whose business was to distribute as much material as it could for free, was against them. Silicon Valley won. (In this instance, and others, one of Silicon Valley’s lobbying techniques was to mobilize its vast user base in support of its political goals.) It’s simple, Obama told his Hollywood supporters: they do a lot more to help me than you guys do. Hoffman was anything but a cynic—rather, he was the reverse, someone who sincerely believed that everything he did would improve life, not just for him but for millions, even billions, of other people.
The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, Boris Johnson, Burning Man, call centre, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, collaborative consumption, East Village, fixed income, Google X / Alphabet X, housing crisis, inflight wifi, Jeff Bezos, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Necker cube, obamacare, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, race to the bottom, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, Y Combinator, Y2K, Zipcar
Brian Chesky, “Our Commitment to Trust & Safety,” Airbnb, August 1, 2011, http://blog.airbnb.com/our-commitment-to-trust-and-safety/. 20. James Temple, “Airbnb Victim Describes Crime and Aftermath,” SFGate, July 30, 2011, http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Airbnb-victim-describes-crime-and-aftermath-2352693.php. 21. Claire Cain Miller, “In Silicon Valley, the Night Is Still Young,” New York Times, August 20, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/technology/silicon-valley-booms-but-worries-about-a-new-bust.html. 22. Jim Wilson, “Good Times in Silicon Valley, for Now,” New York Times, August 13, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/08/13/technology/20110821-VALLEY-5.html; Geoffrey Fowler, “The Perk Bubble Is Growing as Tech Booms Again,” Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2011, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303763404576419803997423690. 23.
Yet both have demonstrated extraordinary levels of ambition and boldness and a willingness to bet big despite the prospect of humiliating failure. So how did it all happen? How did they maneuver past entrenched, politically savvy incumbents to succeed where others had failed and build large companies in a staggeringly short amount of time? How much of their success was luck? What does it take to survive and thrive in modern Silicon Valley? These were questions, I judged back in 2014, that were ripe for exploration in a book. But the practical question was this: Would the startups cooperate with such an in-depth project? At most Silicon Valley tech companies, the time and public images of the top executives are obsessively guarded. Uber and Airbnb had graduated into this secretive sanctum. The only way to find out was to ask. Living up to its mission to foster hospitality, Airbnb promptly invited me to discuss the project. I met Brian Chesky at his company headquarters at 888 Brannan Street in San Francisco, a lavishly renovated former battery factory.
All these investors had concerns about the size of the market, about the absence of any real users, and about the founders themselves, who didn’t resemble the wonky innovators who’d created great Silicon Valley companies, people like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. Design students seemed risky; Stanford computer science dropouts were considered a much better bet. And, frankly, the idea itself seemed small. “We made the classic mistake that all investors make,” wrote Fred Wilson, a Twitter backer, a few years later. “We focused too much on what they were doing at the time and not enough on what they could do, would do, and did do.”11 The year 2008 was also an anxious time in Silicon Valley. The tech industry had recovered from the devastation of the dot-com bust a few years before and had been buoyed by the Google IPO in 2004 and the budding success of Facebook.
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, call centre, cleantech, cloud computing, corporate governance, disruptive innovation, dumpster diving, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, Googley, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, pre–internet, quantitative easing, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Stanford prison experiment, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, telemarketer, tulip mania, uber lyft, Y Combinator, éminence grise
The personal computer was still a relatively new thing. We were getting in on the ground floor of what would become a huge new market. In the 1980s Silicon Valley technology companies were boring places where engineers worked in drab office parks writing software or designing semiconductors and circuit boards and network routers. There weren’t any celebrities, other than Steve Jobs at Apple, and even he wasn’t such a big deal back then. In the early 1990s the Internet era began, and Silicon Valley changed. The new companies were flimsy, based on hype and grandiose rhetoric and the promise of making a fortune overnight. The dotcom boom of the late 1990s was followed by the dotcom bust, and then came a period when Silicon Valley felt like a ghost town. Slowly, a new generation of Internet-related companies arose, and while this second boom wasn’t a direct copy of the first one, there were some worrisome similarities, chief among them the fact that none of these companies seemed to be generating a profit.
The result, according to countless articles in publications like Fortune, the New Republic, Bloomberg, and New York Magazine, is that Silicon Valley has become a place where people live in fear. As soon as someone better or cheaper comes along, your company will get rid of you. If you turn fifty, or forty, or thirty-five; if you demand a raise and become too expensive; if a new batch of workers comes out of college and will do your job for less than what you are paid—you’re gone. So don’t get too comfortable. This new arrangement between workers and employers was invented by Silicon Valley companies and is considered an innovation as significant as the chips and software for which the Valley is better known. Now this ideology has spread beyond Silicon Valley. We are living in a period of huge economic transformation, in which entire industries—retail, banking, healthcare, media, manufacturing—are being reshaped by technology.
Some current and former HubSpotters agreed to be interviewed for the book, but only on condition that our conversations remain off the record. Some people were afraid to talk to me at all. At the time I thought their concerns were silly. But as things turned out, those people may have been right to be afraid. Regarding terminology: When I use the term Silicon Valley I do not mean to denote an actual geographic region—the sixty-mile peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose, where the original technology companies were built. Instead, like Hollywood, or Wall Street, Silicon Valley has become a metaphorical name for an industry, one that exists in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Boston, and countless other places, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area. The term bubble, as I use it, refers not only to the economic bubble in which the valuation of some tech start-ups went crazy but also to the mindset of the people working inside technology companies, the true believers and Kool-Aid drinkers, the people who live inside their own filter bubble, brimming with self-confidence and self-regard, impervious to criticism, immunized against reality, unaware of how ridiculous they appear to the outside world.
World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer
artificial general intelligence, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, Colonization of Mars, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, global village, Google Glasses, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, income inequality, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, PageRank, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, yellow journalism
In a way, this was a theory of radical individualism and self-reliance—a forerunner of Silicon Valley libertarianism. But Brand had studied the works of such thinkers as Buckminster Fuller, Norbert Wiener, and Marshall McLuhan. All of his intellectual heroes wrote about the importance of looking at systems and networks. This was where the notion of the Whole Earth came in. Brand wanted his readers to think ecologically, to see how everything relates to everything else, to understand their place in the web of life. As the back cover of the catalog phrased it, “We can’t put it together. It is together.” The Whole Earth Catalog is a foundational text of Silicon Valley—which helps account for the culture of the place. Despite the venture capitalists and the Teslas, Silicon Valley remains infused with the trace residue of the commune.
Five KEEPERS OF THE BIG GATE IN THE SKY LIKE DONALD TRUMP, Silicon Valley is part of the great American tradition of sham populism. With not quite the same furor as our current president, Silicon Valley came to power on the basis of its anti-elitism. It presented itself an antidote to the old Acela Corridor establishment, which it accused of condescending to the masses and zealously guarding its own prerogatives at everyone else’s expense. Facebook was hailed as a mechanism that would help diminish the importance of clubbable gasbag pundits; Amazon would bust up the cartel of effete New York book publishers. This critique was not purely an exercise in denunciation. It was coupled with an alternative vision of society, a vision of amateurs producing knowledge for the joy of it, a faith in the wisdom of crowds. Silicon Valley views its role in history as that of the disruptive agent that shatters the grip of the sclerotic, self-perpetuating mediocrity that constitutes the American elite.
It celebrated solitary toil at the desk as the highest form of creation. Silicon Valley championed a different theory of creativity. It emphasized the virtues of collaboration. Reid Hoffman, a cofounder of LinkedIn, enthused: “No one can succeed by themselves. . . . The only way you can achieve something magnificent is by working with other people.” This could be seen in any number of Silicon Valley’s favored terms: “peer production,” “social media,” “distributed knowledge.” Wisdom could be found in the amassing of massive data sets, in analyzing the motion of markets. That is the essence of Google’s ranking of Web sites, Amazon’s recommendation algorithms, and Facebook’s News Feed—all extrapolated from the accumulated wisdom of crowds. There’s a screaming irony to this view of creativity. It flies in the face of Silicon Valley’s own creation myth.
The Startup Way: Making Entrepreneurship a Fundamental Discipline of Every Enterprise by Eric Ries
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Ben Horowitz, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, centralized clearinghouse, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, connected car, corporate governance, DevOps, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, index card, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, loss aversion, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, minimum viable product, moral hazard, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, obamacare, peer-to-peer, place-making, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, time value of money, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, universal basic income, web of trust, Y Combinator
And although I refer throughout this chapter to “Silicon Valley” and “Silicon Valley–style startups,” I am not referring literally to the roughly fifty square miles around my house. Increasingly, Silicon Valley is a state of mind, a shared set of beliefs and practices that have taken hold in dozens of startup hubs around the world. I use “Silicon Valley” only as a convenient shorthand for these beliefs. (For one example, see organizations like Rise of the Rest, founded by Steve Case, which works with entrepreneurs in emerging startup cities.2) So let’s dive in. How does the startup movement work? What are our universal beliefs? How can its systems and structures be re-created in other organizations? “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TEAM.” The most commonly held belief in Silicon Valley is that “it’s all about the team.”3 Beneath this catchphrase is a lot of deep thinking about how investors make decisions concerning which startups get funding and the chance to realize their founders’ vision.
The irony is not lost on me that these same organizations have been criticized for being slow to extend this same access to a wider pool of applicants beyond the traditional demographics of Silicon Valley. This extension is essential if we are going to make the concept of “meritocracy” mean something. 5. After these events took place, GE divested the appliance business, which was acquired by Chinese conglomerate Haier in 2016 and still operates under the name “GE Appliances.” See geappliances.com/our-company. 6. If six weeks doesn’t seem like enough time to save a business, note that famed startup accelerator Y Combinator is twelve weeks long. CHAPTER 3 1. For more on the history of Silicon Valley specifically, see the following: Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128, by AnnaLee Saxenian (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994; and “The Secret History of Silicon Valley,” by Steve Blank (steveblank.com/secret-history). 2.
But this can cause huge problems when startups “grow up” and forget these early lessons. For that reason, we need to take a deeper look at the structures and systems of Silicon Valley, the subject of the next chapter. CHAPTER 3 A STARTUP STATE OF MIND “THINK BIG. START SMALL. SCALE FAST.” Startup people are fractious. We disagree on a lot of things. But our factions and feuds belie a deeper truth: Everyone in the startup community universally adheres to a series of deeply held convictions. These convictions form the true foundation of the structures that allow Silicon Valley–style startups to achieve their unique blend of risk-taking and rapid growth. What follows is not meant to be a comprehensive list of everything about how Silicon Valley works. Plenty of other books have covered this terrain, and I don’t want to repeat the obvious points.1 Rather, I want to talk about the distinctive management structures the startup movement has pioneered that—though rarely explicitly acknowledged—are key to its success.
To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy
If there was one person I could turn to for that, it was my old boss and mentor, Larry Sonsini. 10 On Board Larry Sonsini was the managing partner at my old law firm, Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. He was a legend in Silicon Valley, and with good reason. Larry was Silicon Valley’s resident guru on start-ups and IPOs; he had built the firm advising many if not most of Silicon Valley’s most famous start-ups, guiding them and advising them through their initial public offerings and beyond. He was chief legal adviser to Silicon Valley’s most prominent CEOs and boards of directors. If Silicon Valley had a consigliere, it was Larry. Within the law firm, Larry inspired a combination of admiration and awe. He was a brilliant lawyer—efficient, effective, and intensely focused on client service. I also found him to be decent and generous, and I was proud to consider him a mentor.
It struck at the heart of Silicon Valley’s innovation culture, and it was a festering wound at Pixar that was in danger of becoming life-threatening. As I pulled into Pixar’s parking lot after that long commute through the Bay Area and Berkeley, this problem was rarely far from my mind. It involved a little device that had become the glue that held Silicon Valley together: the stock option. Start-ups were bound together by the opportunity for their founders and employees to share the spoils of success. This was one of the main incentives for joining a high-risk venture versus a more established company. The vehicle for participating in a start-up’s success was the stock option, a paper promise that had become the currency of Silicon Valley. Stock options turned Silicon Valley into the modern-day equivalent of the gold rush.
It was simply too much money, and too much risk given Pixar’s track record, for traditional banks or other financing sources to consider. If there is a holy grail in Silicon Valley, it is the initial public offering, or IPO, of a company’s stock. This is Silicon Valley’s payday, the moment of arrival, when paper money becomes real. Every start-up in Silicon Valley harbored dreams of going public. Only a tiny percentage made it. Of those that didn’t make it, some would be acquired by larger companies, even fewer would manage on their own; the rest would shut down. This was because it could take years for start-ups to sustain themselves with their own profitability. Without a steady influx of investment, they just ran out of money. For the employees of those start-ups that do go public, the promise of riches and the imprimatur of success can become a reality. This is why Silicon Valley was, in large measure, built around the promise of the IPO.
The Gated City (Kindle Single) by Ryan Avent
big-box store, carbon footprint, deindustrialization, edge city, Edward Glaeser, income inequality, industrial cluster, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, offshore financial centre, profit maximization, rent-seeking, Silicon Valley, Thorstein Veblen, transit-oriented development, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Veblen good, white picket fence, zero-sum game
* The late 1990s was a wild time in Silicon Valley. The NASDAQ was soaring, and seemingly anyone could start a company, stick a .com at the end of its name, put together an IPO and retire a millionaire. The great boom ultimately took on a speculative character that led to wasted investments and the collapse of many poorly grounded operations. But it was rooted in a surge of not-unrealistic optimism about the potential of the Internet to change the world of business. Among the striking features of the era, one of the most startling is this: the rate of high-tech entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley seems to have been below the national average from 1996 to 2000, according to a recent analysis of business creation during the tech boom. And from the late 1990s to the early 2000s -- after the bust -- Silicon Valley’s rate of high-tech entrepreneurship actually increased.
But these factors could just as easily have driven an increase in new firm formation and employment as a rise in salaries. Silicon Valley experienced more of the latter than the former because workers were scarce. During the late 1990s, the unemployment rate across Silicon Valley dropped well under 3%, eventually sinking to nearly half the national level. There was essentially no surplus labor in the whole of the region. Firms therefore had to bargain hard to hire qualified workers, and this meant giving up a substantial share of firm surplus in the form of salary, benefits, and profit sharing. That, in turn, made it more attractive to be a worker than an entrepreneur. And this brings us to the crux of the matter: why was the Silicon Valley labor market so tight? If the unemployment rate was so much lower than it was elsewhere in the country, and if compensation was rising so much more rapidly than elsewhere in the country, why weren’t people pouring into Silicon Valley from elsewhere in the country?
If the unemployment rate was so much lower than it was elsewhere in the country, and if compensation was rising so much more rapidly than elsewhere in the country, why weren’t people pouring into Silicon Valley from elsewhere in the country? More remarkably, why were people moving in the opposite direction? If you can believe it, Silicon Valley’s main metropolitan centers were losing residents to other parts of the country during the Dot Com boom. From 1998 to 1999, for instance, San Francisco and San Mateo counties each lost a net of about 10,000 residents to other parts of the country. Santa Clara County, the heart of the Valley, lost a net of 30,000 residents. For the decade as a whole, the losses were even more substantial; roughly 176,000 more residents of Santa Clara County moved out than moved in during the 1990s. The Silicon Valley labor market was tight because even as wages were soaring, residents were decamping for other locations.
Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game
Terms like self-actualization became ubiquitous. You’d develop yourself, and your success would be manifest in societal status, material rewards, and spiritual attainment. All these would be of a piece. It’s hard to overstate how influential this movement was in Silicon Valley. Not est specifically, for there were hundreds more like it. In the 1980s the Silicon Valley elite were often found at a successor institution called simply “the Forum.” The Global Business Network was a key, highly influential institution in the history of Silicon Valley. It has advised almost all the companies, and almost everyone who was anyone had something to do with it. Stewart Brand, who coined the phrases “personal computer” and “information wants to be free,” was one of the founders. Now Stewart is a genuinely no-nonsense kind of guy.
It might merely serve as a check on the excesses of conventions that might otherwise become enshrined. If this all sounds a little grandiose, understand that in the context of the community in which I function my presentation is practically self-deprecating. It is commonplace in Silicon Valley for very young people with a startup in a garage to announce that their goal is to change human culture globally and profoundly, within a few years, and that they aren’t ready yet to worry about money, because acquiring a great fortune is a petty matter that will take care of itself. Furthermore, these bright little young bands succeed regularly. This is just Silicon Valley’s version of normal. Our idealisms and dreams often turn out to find fulfillment in events in the real world. Hopefully the ideas presented here work fractionally, and not just in the useless theater of ultimates.
If only we could live for free and get whatever we want without any worry that politics might be messy, that some political process might not make the best decision on our behalves, that cartels would never form around what isn’t perfectly free or automated . . . if only we could carelessly let our levees melt away and throw ourselves into the waiting arms of utopia. I imagine that the academics from top technical schools will do fine. Honestly, there’s no way Silicon Valley would stand to see MIT fall. That wouldn’t be a danger anyway because the top technical schools make money from technology. Stanford sometimes seems like one of the Silicon Valley companies. What about liberal arts professors at a state college? Some academics will hang on, but the prospects are grim if education is seduced by the Siren song. A decade or two from now, if nothing changes, the outlook will recall the present state of recorded music. In the case of that industry, making a pre-digital system efficient through the use of a digital network shrank it economically to about a quarter of its size fairly quickly.
Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters With Reality and Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier
4chan, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative editing, commoditize, cosmological constant, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Firefox, game design, general-purpose programming language, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, impulse control, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, lifelogging, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, Murray Gell-Mann, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons
“He should call the GNF of the North.” “No, the South.” All I could manage was, “It sounds like we’re in Oz.” “You noticed!” I don’t quite know the best way to convey this side of 1980s Silicon Valley, but women served as the impresarios of organic social networking before there was an Internet. Commercial headhunters were irrelevant to the real Silicon Valley; they were nothing but small-time scammers who preyed upon newbies like me. The way the Valley really worked was that a tiny number of unofficial, supersocial, superpowered women connected everyone, creating companies, even whole technological movements. Histories of Silicon Valley always mention captains of industry like Steve Jobs, as they should, but you never see the names of the women who probably did as much to design the place. Linda Stone, aka GNF of the North in the Little Hunan, later became a well-known executive at both Apple and Microsoft at different times, but she also had an outsized and intangible early influence on the evolution of Silicon Valley.
“You’ve got to bring VR demos down to L.A. to show the entertainment industry. Maybe we can make VR rides for theme parks, or who knows what.” “Are you serious? VR systems need these giant computers and all this fancy equipment. Just tell people to come up to Silicon Valley for demos. It’s a short flight.” “This is Hollywood. People come to us.” “Silicon Valley will change that, just wait.” “Maybe so, but in the meantime, we’ll pay you to come … a lot!” “Um, okay…” Thus was launched Reality on Wheels, a big ol’ 18-wheeler loaded with millions of dollars of VR demos that traveled from Silicon Valley to Hollywood. (Similar demos can be had for mere hundreds of dollars today.) It parked for a week at a time at all the major studios. When it finally parked at Universal, where Mr. Spielberg was making his films, he was concerned that we had previously visited the competition at Disney.
I responded, “But there’s no company!” “We’ll fix that right away.” “Can you give me a couple of days to think about it?” “No time for slowpokes in Silicon Valley.” “Right.”2 Peanut Sauce Gallery Fate was caught on a knife’s edge and I was given just a moment when I could prod it to fall one way or the other. Should I dive in and start a Silicon Valley company? There was no beaten path. No startup incubators, no young entrepreneur awards, no crowdfunding sites. Furthermore, I had not grown up in a topiary world where one’s cousin is a lawyer who knows a banker. I knew none of the right people and was clueless. Today’s Silicon Valley looks wild and “emergent” from a distance but is actually rather structured and formal. It has become a narrowing world of prestige insiders who invest in startups and a few big companies and then decide whether to buy them.
The Scandal of Money by George Gilder
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, Donald Trump, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, informal economy, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage tax deduction, obamacare, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ray Kurzweil, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Satoshi Nakamoto, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, secular stagnation, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, special drawing rights, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, winner-take-all economy, yield curve, zero-sum game
Perhaps the street where you live, Main Street is the site of local businesses and jobs. Silicon Valley: A symbol of the high-tech entrepreneurial economy, centered in Santa Clara County, California, and largely funded by venture capital from SAND HILL ROAD in Palo Alto and Menlo Park. The high-tech economy is increasingly based on INFORMATION THEORY, which governs its infrastructure of communications and computing, particularly software. Silicon Valley sustains both MAIN STREET and WALL STREET by supplying them with new technology. Through Wall Street, Silicon Valley provides Main Street with opportunities for sharing in the equity of the ascendant sectors of the world economy. In recent years, Silicon Valley has suffered from the HYPERTROPHY OF FINANCE, become bloated with MONOPOLY MONEY, and been bent by controls from the Wall Street–Washington axis.
The Fed has become a fourth branch of government that alienates Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Silicon Valley. Our society is breaking up into separate and suspicious tribes ruled by federal bureaucrats deciding what money is worth and who gets it. Our aging Federal Reserve System starves both small businesses and Silicon Valley of the capital needed to grow jobs and wages. Fed policy translates into zero-interest-rate loans for the government and its cronies, and little or nothing for savers or small businesses. And it has transformed Wall Street from an engine of innovation into a servant of government power. Chapter 12 Wall Street Sells Its Soul The current world monetary and economic system favors this new Wall Street currency regime over both Main Street and Silicon Valley. Once associated with research, analysis, and support for the independent enterprises of America, the new Wall Street simply means giant banks informally nationalized by Washington.
Or perhaps something fundamental that is missing can be added. THE SHARED MYTH OF HOMO ECONOMICUS The most important question that both sides miss is why the Fed’s allegedly fearsome economic tools are failing to address the demoralization of Main Street, the debauch of Wall Street, and the doldrums of transformative innovation in Silicon Valley. When capital runs with deep knowledge into effective channels of enterprise, the opportunities of Main Street and the average family multiply. A closed loop of Washington, the Wall Street elite, and Silicon Valley’s increasingly political rock stars may enrich the One Percent but does little for America. Addressing a summit of Republican and libertarian critics of the Fed at Jackson Hole in 2015, Steve Moore calculated that an economic revival comparable to Reagan’s “seven fat years” would have increased today’s GDP by some $4.5 trillion and raised today’s average personal incomes—seven years after the crash of 2008—by some $15,000.
Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution by Fred Vogelstein
Apple II, Ben Horowitz, cloud computing, commoditize, disintermediation, don't be evil, Dynabook, Firefox, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, Googley, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Tim Cook: Apple, web application, zero-sum game
Over the years these perks and oddities have been so widely imitated by other corporations that it is now impossible to explain Silicon Valley without mentioning them. Google’s company bus fleet is arguably driving an entire reconfiguration of work-life patterns in the Bay Area. Most big Silicon Valley companies now offer such buses. The one downside of working in Silicon Valley after college used to be living in suburban Mountain View, Palo Alto, or Sunnyvale. City life in San Francisco wasn’t worth the more than two hours of driving it required to live there. Google’s buses, which all have Wi-Fi, make those commutes not only tolerable but some of the most productive hours of the day. So many high-tech workers now live in San Francisco that some of the newest technology companies have followed them. A decade ago companies such as Zynga and Twitter would have automatically located in Silicon Valley. When they started more than six years ago, they located in San Francisco.
And they felt justified in having them. To them, it wasn’t just that Rubin had started Android or built the Sidekick, it was that he probably knew more about the mobile phone business than anyone else at Google, maybe all of Silicon Valley. Then forty-four, he’d been building cutting-edge mobile products in Silicon Valley since the early 1990s. It was his vocation and his avocation. People describe his home as something akin to Tony Stark’s basement laboratory in Iron Man—a space jammed with robotic arms, the latest computers and electronics, and prototypes of various projects. Like many electronics whizzes in Silicon Valley, he had Tony Stark’s respect for authority too. At Apple in the late 1980s he got in trouble for reprogramming the corporate phone system to make it seem as if CEO John Sculley were leaving his colleagues messages about stock grants, according to John Markoff’s 2007 profile in The New York Times.
But despite the power of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Microsoft, at the moment they all still have to largely go through two companies—Apple and Google—to get to the increasingly massive audiences using smartphones and tablets for their news, entertainment, and communications. What this means is that the Apple/Google fight is not just a story about the future of Silicon Valley. It is about the future of media and communications in New York and Hollywood as well. Hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue are at stake, and for at least the next two years, and probably the next five, these companies, their allies, and their hangers-on will be going at it full bore. * * * In many ways what is happening now is what media, communications, and software moguls have been predicting for a generation: The fruits of Silicon Valley’s labor and those of New York and Hollywood are converging. This is as close to tragic irony in business as one ever gets. For two decades—the 1980s and 1990s—a procession of celebrated media executives marshaled the best technology they could assemble to position themselves for the new world they saw coming.
Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 4chan, 8-hour work day, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Brewster Kahle, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, call centre, cellular automata, Chelsea Manning, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, don't repeat yourself, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, HyperCard, illegal immigration, ImageNet competition, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, lone genius, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, microservices, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Nicholas Carr, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, planetary scale, profit motive, ransomware, recommendation engine, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, sorting algorithm, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, the High Line, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zimmermann PGP, éminence grise
Ferenstein, and Neil Malhotra, “The Political Behavior of Wealthy Americans: Evidence from Technology Entrepreneurs,” Stanford Graduate School of Business, Working Paper No. 3581, December 9, 2017, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/working-papers/political-behavior-wealthy-americans-evidence-technology. than to Donald Trump: Ari Levy, “Silicon Valley Donated 60 Times More to Clinton Than to Trump,” CNBC, November 7, 2016, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/2016-election-day/silicon-valley-donated-60-times-more-clinton-trump-n679156. philosopher and technologist Ian Bogost says: Alexis C. Madrigal, “What Should We Call Silicon Valley’s Unique Politics?,” The Atlantic, September 7, 2017, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/09/what-to-call-silicon-valleys-anti-regulation-pro-redistribution-politics/539043. civic goods like public libraries: Susan Stamberg, “How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune into a Library Legacy,” NPR, August 1, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2013/08/01/207272849/how-andrew-carnegie-turned-his-fortune-into-a-library-legacy.
Propelled by these epic feats—clever software, endurance, nutty work hours—the PayPal crew developed a proud sense of having won the gold ring in the meritocracy of Silicon Valley. While most other high-tech firms were collapsing in the dot-com bust of the early ’00s, PayPal was soaring. It successfully went public, then was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion, making its founders remarkably wealthy. PayPal, the vice president Keith Rabois proclaimed, was a “perfect validation of merit.” As he told the journalist Emily Chang: “None of us had any connection to anyone important in Silicon Valley. . . . We went from complete misfits to the establishment in five years. We were literal nobodies. People wouldn’t talk to us.” Or as David Sacks, a former management consultant who joined PayPal as its COO, later told the New York Times, “If meritocracy exists anywhere on earth, it is in Silicon Valley.” When you’re remarkable enough, you win, as the story goes.
as Rosenstein told The Verge: Casey Newton, “The Person Behind the Like Button Says Software Is Wasting Our Time,” The Verge, March 28, 2018, https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/28/17172404/justin-rosenstein-asana-social-media-facebook-timeline-gantt. 2,617 times a day: Paul Lewis, “ ‘Our Minds Can Be Hijacked’: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia,” Guardian, October 6, 2017, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia. CHAPTER 6: 10X, ROCK STARS, AND THE MYTH OF MERITOCRACY a frenzy of programming: This section on Max Levchin draws from several sources, including Adam Penenberg, Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter: How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves (New York: Hyperion, 2009), 158–275, Kindle; Sarah Lacy, Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 (New York: Penguin, 2008), 17–41, Kindle; Jessica Livingston, Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days (New York: Apress, 2008), locations 200–605 of 12266, Kindle; Krissy Clark, “What Does Meritocracy Really Mean in Silicon Valley?,” Marketplace, October 4, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.marketplace.org/2013/10/04/wealth-poverty/what-does-meritocracy-really-mean-silicon-valley; Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2014).
Who Needs the Fed?: What Taylor Swift, Uber, and Robots Tell Us About Money, Credit, and Why We Should Abolish America's Central Bank by John Tamny
Airbnb, bank run, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, buy and hold, Carmen Reinhart, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, NetJets, offshore financial centre, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, War on Poverty, yield curve
As of this writing, with the dollar stronger alongside a slowly reviving economy, it’s fair to say that much of the new money supply would find its way to Silicon Valley. Think back to the discussion in chapter 4. Silicon Valley is in the midst of another boom. There are more than 124 unicorn companies in the Valley that can presently claim private valuations of $1 billion and above. Of course, the unicorns are mere minnows relative to the larger public companies that are worth a great deal more. American Enterprise Institute scholar Bret Swanson has noted that the “market value of seven American technology firms—Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Oracle, Intel, and Microsoft—totals $2.3 trillion, more than the entire stock markets of Germany or Australia.”14 Five of those seven are based in Silicon Valley. To be clear, Silicon Valley doesn’t have a money-supply problem. So aggressively is money chasing all the innovative production in northern California that even the chefs that work at high-flying tech companies are in play.15 Money follows production, and at least for now, Silicon Valley is one of the more popular destinations for the money that can command real economic resources.
More specifically, why does the proverbial credit window shut so quickly for money-losing directors yet remain open for entrepreneurs who preside over imploding start-ups? At a first glance, the obvious answer is that Silicon Valley start-ups generally don’t have $85-million budgets to lose. Assuming Town & Country had cost $10 million, it’s fair to say that Warren Beatty’s reputation in the eyes of film financiers wouldn’t have suffered so much. Second, and of much greater importance, tech has a higher upside than film does. The number of movies that can claim box-office receipts of more than $1 billion can generally be counted on one hand in a very good year. By contrast, companies valued at $1 billion or more are increasingly the norm in Silicon Valley. The term used to refer to these billion-dollar companies is “unicorn.” As of August 2015, there were 124 unicorns in Silicon Valley.2 When the potential for outsize returns is grand, credit sources are more adventurous and more forgiving of past mistakes.
Profits are what determine income, the value of equity options, and bonuses. If regulations reduce them, so will they reduce the quality of talent that migrates to banking. At present, some of the world’s brightest minds are taking their talents to Silicon Valley. The passion to innovate certainly factors into this decision, but the potential to achieve staggering wealth can’t be minimized as a major driver of this modern gold rush. What is notable here is that the frequency of failure in Silicon Valley also means the sky is the limit in terms of potential wealth gains. For the sake of comparison, consider Detroit. It was the Silicon Valley of the first half of the twentieth century, based on how failure was the norm. That its carmakers now largely owe their existence to government is a signal that not a lot of staggering wealth is being created there.
Insane Mode: How Elon Musk's Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of Oil by Hamish McKenzie
Airbnb, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Ben Horowitz, business climate, car-free, carbon footprint, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, Colonization of Mars, connected car, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Google Glasses, Hyperloop, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, low earth orbit, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Menlo Park, Nikolai Kondratiev, oil shale / tar sands, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, South China Sea, special economic zone, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, Zipcar
Its market capitalization would vault from $3 billion to $700 billion. But the ad also expressed and perpetuated a conviction that Californians—and Silicon Valley in particular—could change the world. It’s easy to ridicule Silicon Valley’s “change the world” pretensions, and many have made sport of doing so. HBO’s Silicon Valley, for instance, has been one of the most effective (“I don’t want to live in a world where someone else is making the world a better place better than we are,” says a chakra-channeling CEO in the show’s second season). But while unselfconsciously dweebish, the “change the world” mentality is not entirely delusional, or is, at minimum, a useful article of faith. Silicon Valley has produced numerous world-changing products and services. The semiconductor. The personal computer. The graphical user interface.
The graphical user interface. The Web browser. Google Search. The touch screen smartphone. Social networks. All of these things, if not created in Silicon Valley, were at least perfected there. The same will likely be true for virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and self-driving cars—all of which stand to have seismic effects on the way humans live. Essential to the drumbeat of innovation in Silicon Valley is the idea that one can “make a little dent in the universe,” as Jobs said in a 1985 interview with Playboy magazine. Even if these beliefs are in many cases mistaken, they at least help build a supply chain of brains that makes Silicon Valley unusual. Fed on a diet of inspirational quotes from their tech heroes (“Remembering that you are going to die,” said Jobs, “is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose”), the best developers and software-minded entrepreneurs stream into the Valley to make an impact, get a view of history in the making, make a chunk of money, or all of the above.
Six years after NUMMI closed, taking close to five thousand jobs with it, Fremont was on the rebound. Tesla is also partly responsible for the emergence of an automotive ecosystem on the other side of the bay, in Silicon Valley. The companies there are almost exclusively focused on software. “For a hundred years, automobiles have been a mechanical engineering industry. Now, there is the shift to software—and the mecca of software is Silicon Valley,” Dragos Maciuca, director of Ford’s Palo Alto research and innovation center, told the Los Angeles Times in late 2015. Ford, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, GM, Nissan—they’ve all established Silicon Valley–based research centers to work on autonomous driving and connectivity. Automotive suppliers Continental, Delphi, and Denso also have offices in the area. Local tech companies are branching out into automotive, too.
Running Money by Andy Kessler
Andy Kessler, Apple II, bioinformatics, Bob Noyce, British Empire, business intelligence, buy and hold, buy low sell high, call centre, Corn Laws, Douglas Engelbart, family office, full employment, George Gilder, happiness index / gross national happiness, interest rate swap, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, knowledge worker, Leonard Kleinrock, Long Term Capital Management, mail merge, Marc Andreessen, margin call, market bubble, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mitch Kapor, Network effects, packet switching, pattern recognition, pets.com, railway mania, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Toyota Production System, zero-sum game
Here is another one—‘Standards are great but can hold back innovation.’ ” “That was a few issues ago. I liked that one too.” Hey, maybe this guy wasn’t so bad after all. I wasn’t sure anyone read my drivel. We talked and talked. This guy knew more about Silicon Valley than I did. I was so used to getting stuck next to some brainless Meeting Mr. Zed 41 investment banker from Robertson or Goldman talking about some boring-ass disk drive company. It was nice to talk to someone without an altitude problem. “So, what do you think it is?” “What what is?” I asked. “What it is that makes Silicon Valley so special?” he asked. “I don’t know. I’ve been coming out here for years—on these stupid American Airlines ﬂights, I’m so sick of them. All I know is that every time I come out, whatever I ﬁgured out on the last trip is now cheaper.”
“Miners.” “So the British became the world’s miners?” “Well, no.” “What did they become?” “Ironworkers?” “Are you asking me or telling me?” “Both?” This was not going well. “Does Silicon Valley provide the greatest silicon to the world?” “No.” “So, ﬁnd out what sucked up that horsepower. Why did they need so much of it? Find the scale.” “But where?” I asked. “Everywhere. Underwear.” And then he hung up. I think he’d seen this movie before too. > > > Object Lesson FREMONT, CALIFORNIA—JANUARY 1997 OK, enough of the history lesson—it’s time to ﬁnd some stocks that go up. Shouldn’t be too hard—this is Silicon Valley, not Shropshire. “What are we going to ask these guys?” I asked Fred. We were headed in to see one of the recent IPOs, Versant. We owned a little, and the stock was running. “I want see who their big customers are and then check out management.
Are you going to invest in ships or railroads?” “No, but—” “How about electric utilities? Textile makers? Auto companies?” “Well, no.” “The Industrial Revolution is dead.” “But there are lessons there.” “Of course, you didn’t waste your time. But don’t think like an industrialist. Silicon Valley isn’t an industry, it’s a giant design shop, as far as I can tell.” “That’s true,” I said. “So, go ﬁgure that out. Your numbers for your ﬁrst year are pretty good.” “Thanks, but—” “But 25%? That’s nothing. How is it that Silicon Valley can generate all that wealth but hardly even make anything themselves? Can we invest in that model or is that same little quirk? Teach me—I’m not sure myself.” All of the names that were working in our fund really didn’t 100 Running Money make anything themselves—they just designed stuff made elsewhere.
The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, disruptive innovation, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Marc Andreessen, new economy, pre–internet, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, software as a service, Steve Jobs
Getting Value from Entrepreneurial Talent We three authors come from a business environment where the employment alliance has already taken root—the high-tech start-up community of Silicon Valley. It’s the best place in the world for adaptation and innovation, as demonstrated by its economic growth over the past decade. If you want your organization to be able to survive and thrive in an environment where change is rapid and disruptive innovation rampant, you need to develop the adaptability that is the hallmark of this ecosystem. Obviously, not every industry works like Silicon Valley, nor should many established companies attempt wholesale adoption of start-up strategies. The question is which lessons from Silicon Valley are generally applicable. Mainstream media’s coverage of Silicon Valley tends to focus on flashy details. But attributing the valley’s success to four-star meals in cafeterias, Foosball tables, or even stock options is like attributing a Ferrari’s power to its bright red paint job.
But attributing the valley’s success to four-star meals in cafeterias, Foosball tables, or even stock options is like attributing a Ferrari’s power to its bright red paint job. The real secret of Silicon Valley is that it’s really all about the people. Sure, there are plenty of stories in the press about the industry’s young geniuses, but surprisingly few about its management practices. What the mainstream press misses is that Silicon Valley’s success comes from the way its companies build alliances with their employees. Here, talent really is the most valuable resource, and employees are treated accordingly. The most successful Silicon Valley businesses succeed because they use the alliance to recruit, manage, and retain an incredibly talented team of entrepreneurial employees. Entrepreneurial employees possess what eBay CEO John Donahoe calls the founder mind-set.
The finite term of the tour of duty provides crisper focus and a mutually agreeable time frame for discussing the future of the relationship. It gives a valued employee concrete and compelling reasons to “stick it out” and finish a tour. Most importantly, a realistic tour of duty lets both sides be honest, which is a necessity for trust. We recognize the irony of looking to Silicon Valley for lessons on building long-term relationships. After all, Silicon Valley is where an engineer can update her LinkedIn profile in the morning and have five job offers by lunchtime. But this is precisely why you can learn from Silicon Valley. This is one of the fastest-moving, most competitive economies on the planet. It’s immensely difficult to retain quality employees, so the companies and managers that convince their people to stay must be doing something extraordinary. The talent management techniques—such as tours of duty—that work in this brutal environment are battle-tested.
Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez
Airbnb, airport security, always be closing, Amazon Web Services, Burning Man, Celtic Tiger, centralized clearinghouse, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, disruptive innovation, drone strike, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, financial independence, global supply chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, hive mind, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, MITM: man-in-the-middle, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, social web, Socratic dialogue, source of truth, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, undersea cable, urban renewal, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, éminence grise
After all the threats and strong-arming to keep us from leaving, in the same way that an abusive husband brings home flowers to make it all right, Murthy gifted us an unsolicited intro to one of the big power attorneys in Silicon Valley, Ted Wang of Fenwick & West. With much to-do, Murthy declared that this going-away present was a posthumous homage to Rajeev. He might even have gotten a bit misty-eyed as he said it. I immediately scheduled a call with Ted to relay our fears about the guy who had brought us together. I didn’t trust Murthy to let us go so easily. Ted turned out to be a savvy and knowledgeable Silicon Valley player. From the earliest days, his was a voice of wise counsel in dealing with Murthy. When that conflict escalated into a full-on lawsuit three months later, he unhesitatingly threw Fenwick into the fray, less because of the value of AdGrok as a startup, and more due to outrage at the offense against the informal Silicon Valley rules. A large company didn’t sue a small company just because it could.
Adchemy’s venture capital patrons were two absolutely first-class, blue-chip firms: August Capital and the Mayfield Fund. The partners at those funds were John Johnston at August, whose comically WASPy name matched his appearance and pedigree. At Mayfield, it was Yogen Dalal, the usual cocktail of the Indian Institute of Technology and Stanford that populated many a Silicon Valley boardroom. We had leverage over such Silicon Valley players thanks to funding trends that were then seizing Silicon Valley, and are now so commonplace as to scarcely merit mention. Here’s why: Traditionally, early-stage startup funding was the exclusive province of either the entrepreneur’s personal wealth, friends and family, or business “angels.” In their original form, angel investors were wealthy individuals, often former entrepreneurs themselves, who for fun or profit punted around in embryonic companies.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, its beer garden is the best hangout in San Francisco. You’ll get high as a kite from the secondary pot smoke alone. * While raised in the cradle of the Cuban exile in Miami, I was born in Southern California, making me more Californian than most Silicon Valley denizens. * Marketers use “conversion” to indicate a sale, the way Mormons refer to souls saved. * CrunchBase is the database of people and companies that’s the who’s who (if I can use that phrase without puking) of Silicon Valley. The parent publication of CrunchBase, TechCrunch (hence the name), is the day-to-day news and gossip rag of the Silicon Valley carnival. † The origin of the term “dogfooding” is supposedly found in eighties Microsoft, which coined the phrase from Alpo dog food commercials at the time wherein Lorne Greene assured a perhaps dubious public that he fed his own dogs Alpo.
The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha
Airbnb, Andy Kessler, Black Swan, business intelligence, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, David Brooks, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, follow your passion, future of work, game design, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, late fees, lateral thinking, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, out of africa, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, recommendation engine, Richard Bolles, risk tolerance, rolodex, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs
These companies provide not only a new model for corporate innovation, but also the entrepreneur mind-set needed to succeed in individual careers. What do these companies have in common? The principles of Silicon Valley are the principles in this book. Take intelligent and bold risks to accomplish something great. Build a network of alliances to help you with intelligence, resources, and collective action. Pivot to a breakout opportunity. You can think like a start-up, whoever you are and whatever you do. Anyone can apply this entrepreneurial skill set to his or her career. This is a book about how to do just that. It’s about keeping Detroit from happening to you and making the Silicon Valley way work for you. THE PATH TO THE FUTURE In 1997 Reed Hastings, a software entrepreneur living in the hills of Silicon Valley, was faced with a problem. He had rented Apollo 13 from a video store, returned it days late, and was dealt a late fee so nasty that he was too embarrassed to tell his wife what had happened.
In the months leading up to our first meeting, Ben visited dozens of countries and met thousands of students, entrepreneurs, journalists, and businesspeople—from community college students in middle America to small-business owners in rural Indonesia to government leaders in Colombia. In these far-flung places he spoke about his own experiences and simultaneously observed and learned about the aspirations and attitudes of the talented local people. The remarkable thing he noticed was that entrepreneurship—in the broad sense of the word—was everywhere: thousands of miles from Silicon Valley, in the hearts and minds of people not necessarily starting companies. While they may not have considered themselves entrepreneurs, their approach to life seemed every bit the Silicon Valley way: they were self-reliant in spirit, resourceful, ambitious, adaptive, and networked with one another. From these experiences he arrived separately at the same conclusion that I did: entrepreneurship is a life idea, not a strictly business one; a global idea, not a strictly American one. (Which I also experienced by serving on the board of the global entrepreneurship organization Endeavor.)
The forces of change that toppled the once great city and industry risk toppling all of our careers—no matter how secure they may seem at the moment. Fortunately, there is another path—both metaphorically and physically thousands of miles away from Detroit. Silicon Valley has become the twenty-first-century model for entrepreneurship and progress and has had multiple generations of entrepreneurial companies over the decades: from Hewlett Packard’s founding in 1939 to Intel, Apple, Adobe, Genentech, AMD, Intuit, Oracle, Electronic Arts, Pixar, and Cisco, and then to Google, eBay, Yahoo, Seagate, and Salesforce, and then more recently to PayPal, Facebook, YouTube, Craigslist, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In each passing decade, Silicon Valley has kept and intensified its entrepreneurial mojo, with dozens of companies creating the future and adapting to the evolution of the global market. These companies provide not only a new model for corporate innovation, but also the entrepreneur mind-set needed to succeed in individual careers.
Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld
barriers to entry, cleantech, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, G4S, Grace Hopper, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, minimum viable product, Network effects, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, place-making, pre–internet, Richard Florida, Ruby on Rails, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, software as a service, Steve Jobs, text mining, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar
In her PhD work at MIT, AnnaLee Saxenian (currently Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Information) noticed that external economies do not fully explain the development and adaptation of startup communities. In particular, in her seminal book Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (1994) Saxenian noted that two hotbeds for high-tech activity—Silicon Valley and Boston’s Route 128—looked very similar in the mid-1980s. Each area enjoyed agglomeration economies associated with the nation’s two high-tech regions. Yet just a decade later, Silicon Valley gained a dominant advantage over Route 128. External economies alone did not provide an answer. Saxenian set out to resolve the puzzle of why Silicon Valley far outpaced Route 128 from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s. Saxenian persuasively argues that a culture of openness and information exchange fueled Silicon Valley’s ascent over Route 128. This argument is tied to network effects, which are better leveraged by a community with a culture of information sharing across companies and industries.
We’ll begin with one of my favorite myths: “We Need to Be Like Silicon Valley.” WE NEED TO BE LIKE SILICON VALLEY It is usually among the first questions I get asked as I travel around the world researching and talking about entrepreneurship, innovation, and venture capital. The question is, of course, how can we create our own Silicon Valley? To save time, here is the answer to the Silicon Valley question: You can’t—you only think you want to. Granted, everyone thinks they do. It has become a cliché, but there is a Silicon pretty much everywhere as you travel around, to the point that it is meaningless. It is also a reminder how many places get things confused, thinking that they can, by borrowing the trappings of the Bay area, create their own working facsimile of it. The superficial trappings of Silicon Valley are obvious. They include: bountiful VC; research universities; lovely weather; a host of young technology startups; and a few large, successful companies.
This argument is tied to network effects, which are better leveraged by a community with a culture of information sharing across companies and industries. Saxenian observed that the porous boundaries between Silicon Valley companies, such as Sun Microsystems and HP, stood in stark contrast to the closed-loop and autarkic companies of Route 128, such as DEC and Apollo. More broadly, Silicon Valley culture embraced a horizontal exchange of information across and between companies. Rapid technological disruption played perfectly to Silicon Valley’s culture of open information exchange and labor mobility. As technology quickly changed, the Silicon Valley companies were better positioned to share information, adopt new trends, leverage innovation, and nimbly respond to new conditions. Meanwhile, vertical integration and closed systems disadvantaged many Route 128 companies during periods of technological upheaval.
Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work by Alex Rosenblat
"side hustle", Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, big-box store, call centre, cashless society, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Chrome, income inequality, information asymmetry, Jaron Lanier, job automation, job satisfaction, Lyft, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, performance metric, Peter Thiel, price discrimination, Ralph Waldo Emerson, regulatory arbitrage, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, social software, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, TaskRabbit, Tim Cook: Apple, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, urban planning, Wolfgang Streeck, Zipcar
Facebook cofounder and philanthropist Chris Hughes dedicated his intellectual thought leadership to promoting a universal basic income,15 and Mark Zuckerberg, his former roommate, mentioned it in the commencement speech he gave at Harvard.16 This quasi-moral solution to income inequality—and to expanding the definition of equality for this generation—finds its strongest American proponents in Silicon Valley. Home to the billion-dollar titans of industry, who form a slightly reluctant political elite in the New Economy, Silicon Valley and the culture of technology radiate influence across the business, political, and media culture of major American cities. And Silicon Valley has a strong stake in national debates over whether automation technology, such as self-driving cars, will take all our jobs. Universal basic income is one form of “automation alimony” that is proposed to relieve the rising inequality often attributed to automation.
In 2014, Uber’s own newsroom stated, “Our powerful technology platform delivers turnkey entrepreneurship to drivers across the country and around the world.”7 The idea that Uber can deliver entrepreneurship to the masses through technology is a compelling anthem for a society eager to reap the benefits of technology that come especially from Silicon Valley kingmakers. Drivers, however, aren’t the web 2.0 tech entrepreneurs who emerged from Silicon Valley with a heady array of self-branding marketing skills in the early years of the twenty-first century. They don’t game search-engine-optimization results to boost their presence on the Internet, and they don’t have Google alerts set to their names to inform them when they are mentioned somewhere (with the possible exception of a few drivers who run forums and blogs). Drivers aren’t “happiness engineers” or “code ninjas.”8 THE LEGEND OF SILICON VALLEY It shouldn’t be surprising that Uber has adopted the myth of tech entrepreneurship: after all, the company was started by such entrepreneurs.
Drivers aren’t “happiness engineers” or “code ninjas.”8 THE LEGEND OF SILICON VALLEY It shouldn’t be surprising that Uber has adopted the myth of tech entrepreneurship: after all, the company was started by such entrepreneurs. Travis Kalanick, the most visible cofounder of Uber, is hailed as one of Silicon Valley’s “Great Men.” The Great Man theory of success celebrates America’s technology founder-heroes for their business acumen and their passion, like Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg. The Silicon Valley “Great Men” typically celebrated are white men. Equally accomplished founders who are not white men tend to get less play—like Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, according to longtime Silicon Valley journalist, Sarah Lacy.9 The meritocratic theory of success has crossed class lines and entered the culture of work embraced by most people in the United States. Like Frank, they are “doers” and deserve the fruits of their labor. It is the sentiment that animates antigovernment, antitax efforts by the Tea Party, congressional Republicans, and libertarians today, and which prompted Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, to divide the citizens of the United States into givers and takers.10 This simple story has roots in American history, which celebrates Virginian slave-owners for their business and political acumen, even though it was slaves who bent down to pull up the slave owners’ bootstraps.
Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex by Yasha Levine
23andMe, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Anne Wojcicki, anti-communist, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bitcoin, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, collaborative editing, colonial rule, computer age, computerized markets, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, digital map, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global village, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Hangouts, Howard Zinn, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Jacob Appelbaum, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, life extension, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, Snapchat, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Hackers Conference, uber lyft, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks
“Despite the tech companies’ assertions that they provide information on their customers only when required under law—and not knowingly through a back door—the perception that they enabled the spying program has lingered,” reported the New York Times in 2014.38 For a moment after Snowden’s leaks, Silicon Valley entered a state of paralyzed shock, frozen with fear over how to handle the scandal. It was an astounding time in history. You could almost hear the giant wheels of the Silicon Valley public relations machine grind to a halt. While analysts predicted multi-billion-dollar losses to the industry as a result of Snowden’s revelations, an army of friendly bloggers, academics, think tanks, Astroturf groups, lobbyists, and journalists sat at their keyboards, staring at their hands, waiting with bated breath for a backlash.39 Edward Snowden terrified the industry. Catapulted to the status of a cult hero, he now wielded massive influence. He could easily focus on Silicon Valley’s private surveillance apparatus and explain that it was an integral part of the bigger surveillance machine operated by the NSA—that it was one of the two parts of the same system.
If you take a big-picture view, Silicon Valley’s support for Internet Freedom makes sense as well. Companies like Google and Facebook first supported it as a part of a geopolitical business strategy, a way of subtly pressuring countries that closed their networks and markets to Western technology companies. But after Edward Snowden’s revelations exposed the industry’s rampant private surveillance practices to the public, Internet Freedom offered another powerful benefit. For years, public opinion has been stacked firmly against Silicon Valley’s underlying business model. In poll after poll, a majority of Americans have voiced their opposition to corporate surveillance and have signaled support for increased regulation of the industry.152 This has always been a deal breaker for Silicon Valley. For many Internet companies, including Google and Facebook, surveillance is the business model.
William Shockley was an MIT chemist and notorious eugenicist who made his name as part of the Bell Labs team that invented the solid-state transistor. In 1956, he returned to his hometown of Palo Alto to start Shockley Semiconductor inside the university’s Stanford Industrial Park.17 His company spawned several other microchip companies, including Intel, and gave Silicon Valley its name. Hewlett-Packard, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, Xerox PARC, and Lockheed Martin also set up shop inside Stanford’s Industrial Park around the same time. There was so much military work going on in Silicon Valley that, throughout the 1960s, Lockheed was the biggest employer in the Bay Area. ARPA had a huge presence on campus, too. The Stanford Research Institute did counterinsurgency and chemical warfare work for the agency as part of William Godel’s Project Agile. It also housed the Augmentation Research Center, an ARPANET site run by the acid-dropping Douglas Engelbart.
Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer by Michael Swaine, Paul Freiberger
1960s counterculture, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, cloud computing, commoditize, computer vision, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Google Chrome, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Jony Ive, Loma Prieta earthquake, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stealth mode startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Tim Cook: Apple, urban sprawl, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog
→ John Perry Barlow Peripheral Visionary executive vice president; Algae Systems cofounder; and rocking chair, Electronic Frontier Foundation This must-read classic tale of the origins of the personal computer and its role in the evolution of Silicon Valley continues to evolve and inform. In an era when we take the personal computer for granted, we tend to forget the risk-taking and ambition that was required to shift from a hobbyist plaything to a thriving industry. The authors focus on the people and culture that helped to change the world—and continue to change the world through offshoots like smartphones and the Internet. The fire continues to grow. → John Hagel Co-chairman, Center for the Edge, and coauthor, The Power of Pull Fire in the Valley is the seminal story of Silicon Valley. It is the first and only biography of the place that made and continues to make innovation history. Swaine and Freiberger capture the emotions and motivations at the core of this very special place with tenderness and finesse that endure to this day
Their story will save you a lot of money, time, and disappointment. → Roger McNamee Cofounder of Elevation Partners, Silver Lake Partners, and Integral Capital Partners Silicon Valley suffers from an extreme case of historical amnesia. Whatever its virtues, remembering its roots isn’t one. The best remedy—especially for those who treasure understanding the origins of the world’s top innovation cluster—is to read Fire in the Valley. Swaine and Freiberger brilliantly capture a bygone time, a forgotten creation story that, when first encountered, greatly enhances your appreciation of the technological marvel that Silicon Valley was, is, and likely shall remain. This is an essential volume in any reading list on the digital age. → G. Pascal Zachary Author of Showstopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft and Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century Foreword to the Third Edition Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine, and I arrived at about the same time in late 1981, at a funky little publication that had recently been renamed InfoWorld.
Shockley Semiconductor spawned Fairchild Semiconductor, and Silicon Valley grew from this root. * * * Figure 10. Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce Gordon Moore (left) and Robert Noyce founded Intel, which became the computer industry’s semiconductor powerhouse. (Courtesy of Intel) A decade after Fairchild was formed, virtually every semiconductor company in existence could boast a large number of former Fairchild employees. Even the big electronics companies, such as Motorola, that entered the semiconductor industry in the 1960s employed ex-Fairchild engineers. And except for some notable exceptions—RCA, Motorola, and Texas Instruments—most of the semiconductor companies were located within a few miles of Shockley’s operation in Palo Alto in the Santa Clara Valley, soon to be rechristened Silicon Valley. The semiconductor industry grew with amazing speed, and the size and price of its products shrank at the same pace.
How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher
Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, computer vision, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Frank Gehry, Google Glasses, Hyperloop, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, Justin.tv, Lean Startup, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, Nelson Mandela, Oculus Rift, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, QR code, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, social graph, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, too big to fail, Y Combinator, young professional
With a $17 billion endowment, Stanford has the resources to provide students an incredible education inside the classroom, with accomplished scholars ranging from Nobel Prize winners to former secretaries of state teaching undergraduates. The Silicon Valley ecosystem ensures that students have ample opportunity outside the classroom as well. Mark Zuckerberg gives a guest lecture in the introductory computer science class. Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey spoke on campus to convince students to join his companies. The guest speaker lineups at the myriad entrepreneurship and technology-related classes each quarter rival those of multithousand-dollar business conferences. Even geographically, Stanford is smack in the middle of Silicon Valley. Facebook sits just north of the school. Apple is a little farther south. Google is to the east. And just west, right next to campus, is Sand Hill Road, the Wall Street of venture capital. Silicon Valley has always had an influence on Stanford, and vice versa.
The former dean of Stanford’s business school, Bob Joss, invested as well. All told, close to sixty people and institutions invested a sum of $30 million in Clinkle before the company even told the world what they were doing. The company had at this point been in “stealth mode,” a sexy term meaning they weren’t telling anyone what they were working on. Stanford has been intertwined with Silicon Valley for more than a century. In 1909, a Stanford graduate founded one of the earliest big Silicon Valley startups, Federal Telegraph. David Starr Jordan, Stanford’s first president, was an angel investor. But Clinkle made students, faculty, and alumni uneasy. Should the university president be advising a company that is recruiting students to drop out of school? Should professors be investing in their students’ companies? The questions around Clinkle had no easy answers, but certainly it would look better for everyone involved if Clinkle turned out to be a massive success—the kind of endeavor obviously worth leaving school for.
Clinkle’s office at the time was only a short drive down El Camino Real from Stanford, in Mountain View, in Google’s complex of buildings known as the Googleplex. In the summer of 2013, Clinkle’s public relations staff reached out to over a dozen publications, from The New York Times to TechCrunch,3 asking them to cover “the largest seed round in Silicon Valley history.” While Lucas was happy to wax poetic about how Clinkle was going to change the world and how much money he had raised, he refused to talk at all about the product or technology behind Clinkle. Now, Lucas was attempting to keep the product and technology in stealth mode, while announcing the company to the world. It was a bizarre strategy. Like most young founders in Silicon Valley, including Evan, Lucas looked up to Steve Jobs as his idol. He wanted to create a company like Apple, polished and ready to dazzle consumers. Lucas never wanted to talk to users or customers—he felt he should decide what was best for users and deliver them an amazing, innovative product that was a massive improvement over their current wallets.
The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups by Randall Stross
affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, always be closing, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Burning Man, business cycle, California gold rush, call centre, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Elon Musk, high net worth, index fund, inventory management, John Markoff, Justin.tv, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, QR code, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, social graph, software is eating the world, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, transaction costs, Y Combinator
Founder Nikki Durkin, twenty, is Australian and her mention of being accepted into YC on Facebook was picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald, which described Australian entrepreneurs seeking to go to Silicon Valley as “like religious fanatics trying to get to their mecca.” Asher Moses, “Aussie Nikki Joins Silicon Valley Millionaire Factory,” November 18, 2011, www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/aussie-nikki-joins-silicon-valley-millionaire-factory-20111118-1nlud.html. At the first dinner, PG was in the middle of his standard spiel for technical founders when he remembered 99dresses, so different from the many companies whose founders sell developer tools to fellow developers. He looked over in the direction of 99dresses and offered a joke to the group: “Conventionally, you’re allowed to require that one another use your products. You don’t all have to use 99dresses.” 7. PG, “How to Be Silicon Valley,” May 2006, http://paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html. 8.
It offers tours of San Francisco, of Muir Woods and Sausalito or the wine country north of the city, but it no longer offers a tour of Silicon Valley, immediately south. From a bus seat, there just isn’t much to be seen.1 Silicon Valley’s past is more accessible than its present. There’s the Computer History Museum, and Intel has a museum of its own. And there are the garages, of course, beginning with Hewlett and Packard’s, then Steve Jobs’s parents’, and then the rented garage that served as Google’s first off-campus office space. But these are ghostly places, the uninteresting physical vestiges of startups that have long since departed. To glimpse what comes next in Silicon Valley, you need to see the most promising startups, not museums and historic garages. There are literally thousands of startups, dispersed along the sixty-mile corridor that extends between San Francisco and San Jose, but they all operate under secrecy until they are ready to launch their first product.
It would have been more difficult to convince YC applicants of the desirability of moving to where YC was had it stayed where it started, in Cambridge. But after the first YC batch had finished in August 2005, Graham decided it would be a good idea to plant the flag in Silicon Valley. He expected that other seed funds would pop up and copy the Y Combinator model, and he didn’t want to leave open an opportunity for someone to come along and say, “We’re the Y Combinator of Silicon Valley.” He wanted Y Combinator to be the Y Combinator of Silicon Valley. He and Livingston planned to move out to the Bay Area for the next batch, in winter 2006, and then alternate, running a summer batch in Cambridge and a winter one in the Valley. They would need one room large enough to seat everyone in the batch for the weekly dinner, but only for a few months every year.
Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener
autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, basic income, blockchain, Burning Man, call centre, charter city, cloud computing, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Extropian, future of work, Golden Gate Park, housing crisis, Jane Jacobs, job automation, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, means of production, medical residency, new economy, New Urbanism, passive income, pull request, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, technoutopianism, telepresence, telepresence robot, union organizing, universal basic income, unpaid internship, urban planning, urban renewal, women in the workforce, Y2K, young professional
On this we agreed, though I suspected we might have different ideas about how it could manifest. “I think it’s really striking that there is only one Silicon Valley, and I worry a lot about that flame being extinguished. Maybe one question is whether you would want two Silicon Valleys, or none. For me, that answer is really clear.” I swirled a piece of chicken skin around my plate. I did not want two Silicon Valleys. I was starting to think the one we already had was doing enough damage. Or, maybe I did want two, but only if the second one was completely different, an evil twin: Matriarchal Silicon Valley. Separatist-feminist Silicon Valley. Small-scale, well-researched, slow-motion, regulated Silicon Valley—men could hold leadership roles in that one, but only if they never used the word “blitzscale” or referred to business as war.
The tech industry was making me a perfect consumer of the world it was creating. It wasn’t just about leisure, the easy access to nice food and private transportation and abundant personal entertainment. It was the work culture, too: what Silicon Valley got right, how it felt to be there. The energy of being surrounded by people who so easily articulated, and satisfied, their desires. The feeling that everything was just within reach. Was I trying too hard to make this mean something? I asked Leah. Was that just buying into the industry’s own narratives about itself? I tried to summarize the frantic, self-important work culture in Silicon Valley, how everyone was optimizing their bodies for longer lives, which could then be spent productively; how it was frowned upon to acknowledge that a tech job was a transaction rather than a noble mission or a seat on a rocket ship.
Activists joined, as did some of the startup’s most vocal critics. One of these critics, Danilo, could have been a poster child for meritocracy—he was born to a single mother in Puerto Rico, raised in public housing, and had taught himself how to code as a kid—but he spoke openly about his contempt for Silicon Valley’s rugged-individualist narratives, and was fond of mocking venture capitalists and rabid techno-libertarians on social media. He clearly made some of our coworkers nervous. Danilo’s vision for technology was new to me. It relied on disruption, as was the fashion, but what it disrupted was Silicon Valley. The cost of participation in technology was plummeting, he liked to point out. As education, hardware, and access to tools got cheaper, more people would participate. The products and companies would diversify; the power structure would morph.
The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere by Kevin Carey
Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, business cycle, business intelligence, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, David Heinemeier Hansson, declining real wages, deliberate practice, discrete time, disruptive innovation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google X / Alphabet X, informal economy, invention of the printing press, inventory management, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Network effects, open borders, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, transcontinental railway, uber lyft, Vannevar Bush
By the time the incumbents are truly threatened, it is much too late for them to change. The consonance with the theory and culture of Silicon Valley is obvious, which is why Christensen was cited ad nauseam by everyone we met. Companies built for such disruption, Maples said, are like thunder lizards. They lay radioactive eggs, breathe fire, pick up and consume trains. They also grow at a terrifying rate. Silicon Valley is a breeding ground for thunder lizards, companies that go from $0 to incredibly valuable, in the many billions of dollars, in very short periods of time. That’s why Godzilla was sitting on the conference table. It’s also a good example of how Silicon Valley is dominated by metaphor. Having good instincts about the onrushing future is only part of what it takes to make it big. Successful investors have to process an onslaught of new information about inflows and outflows of money, burn rates and stock prices, the comings and goings of key engineers and technologists at different firms, other companies proceeding from similar insights, broader economic trends, and the disruptive progress of other thunder lizards that are changing the same landscape—sometimes for good and sometimes not—that your thunder lizards are planning to traverse.
And computing devices evolved into more than tools left on the office desktop at quitting time. They became an essential part of how people interacted with one another in everyday life—a social network. Mobile, social, and cloud, each driven by venture-backed technology companies in Silicon Valley. Decades of increasingly powerful technology married to capital and the best minds of the research university had created a distinct and powerful culture in the converted industrial buildings south of Market Street in San Francisco and the storefronts and garages around the academic and industrial giants of Silicon Valley. It was a belief system in which people were not just augmented but liberated by technology—a place where people could discard the compromises and confusions of human living and build something more rational and enlightened in their place
Staton explained that Enterprise Software and eCommerce were fully converted to a digital marketplace and Media & Entertainment was about half-converted. Yet, while education dwarfed them all in size, it is still, in terms of how money is spent, almost entirely an analog business. Now the moneymen in Silicon Valley were looking at the big yellow circle and seeing a tremendous business opportunity. Venture capital investment in education technology companies increased from less than $200 million in 2008 to over $1.2 billion in 2013. There is, of course, a great deal of complexity sitting inside of the big yellow $4.6 trillion circle—thousands of potential business models and strategies for getting a piece of the pie. As Staton and I drove around Silicon Valley from one new business to another, certain broad categories of start-up became clear. Some of the companies we visited were going after parts of the big yellow circle.
Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper
4chan, Airbnb, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, banking crisis, Ben Horowitz, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, buy and hold, capital controls, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Extropian, fiat currency, Fractional reserve banking, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, life extension, litecoin, lone genius, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Occupy movement, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, price stability, QR code, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Startup school, stealth mode startup, the payments system, transaction costs, tulip mania, WikiLeaks
Jed’s new company, named Ripple, was a cryptographic network that could be used to send any currency, not just Bitcoins. That made it less threatening to governments and banks and more attractive to people like Andreessen and Thiel, who both offered small seed investments. But both of these key Silicon Valley figures were also getting more comfortable with Bitcoin itself. The investment firm that Thiel had helped create with some of his PayPal riches, the Founders Fund, began talking with an engineer at Facebook who had founded an e-mail list for Silicon Valley insiders, dedicated to Bitcoin, about joining the firm to look for virtual currency investments. The growing openness to Bitcoin was helped along by Silicon Valley’s ballooning sense of self-importance in early 2013. With the Nasdaq composite stock index soaring, shares of Google at an all-time high, and startups selling for mind-boggling sums, many in the tech industry believed that they were going to be able to revolutionize and improve every element of modern life.
Because there is no identifying information attached to Bitcoin addresses, the terrorist cell could receive money without anyone noticing. That is very different from a traditional bank, in which every account is tied to a specific person or organization. Coinbase had to repeatedly convince Silicon Valley Bank that it knew where the Bitcoins leaving Coinbase were going. Even with all these steps, on several days in March Coinbase hit up against transaction limits set by Silicon Valley Bank and had to shut down until the next day. At the end of the month, an item was posted on SVBitcoin, an invite-only e-mail list for the Silicon Valley Bitcoin community: “The Time Has Come for the Bitcoin Community to Own a U.S. Based Federally Chartered Bank.” The author, an investor named David Johnston, wrote that the skepticism of traditional banks toward virtual currencies was the biggest roadblock facing Bitcoin’s growth.
New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer said PayPal was breaking the law by facilitating payments for gambling companies, and the Department of Justice decided PayPal was violating the USA Patriot Act. The new limits and restrictions imposed took it further and further from its ambitious original goals. Thiel and Levchin left PayPal soon afterward. This had scared much of Silicon Valley away from tinkering with finance, which was seen as largely resistant to new technology because of all the regulations. But the PayPal experience also explained why there was a hunger for the idea of a virtual currency. There was a lingering memory of this unfulfilled dream of Silicon Valley. While the Internet had freed information and communication from the postal service and the publishing industry, the Internet had essentially never disrupted money, and dollars remained bound by the old networks run by the credit card companies and the banks.
Billion Dollar Burger: Inside Big Tech's Race for the Future of Food by Chase Purdy
agricultural Revolution, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Donald Trump, gig economy, global supply chain, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, sovereign wealth fund, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Steve Jobs
Looking back, Tetrick credits Balk entirely for the creation of JUST. “If not for him, the company wouldn’t have started,” Tetrick says. “He had the initial idea, the concept, pushing me, all of it,” he said. Tetrick did what a lot of Silicon Valley’s nervous first-time entrepreneurs do. He assembled a small team to begin working on early-stage products and spent his own time wooing potential investors for seed money to help his new business grow. And for a while it was enough. The company’s work and mission elicited a lot of attention from Silicon Valley venture capital firms. The company would ultimately attract notice—and some measure of notoriety—for its suite of vegan condiments and cookie dough. But in those earliest days the primary focus was creating a vegan egg replacement.
How close were they to being a reality? And how soon would these new food technologies be in a position to threaten entrenched animal agriculture operations that had long commanded space in the food chain? In time, so much buzz around JUST made it Silicon Valley’s first and only food technology unicorn. Tetrick had found a direction, and for now he was committed to walking that walk. But not everyone was excited about him or his new company’s mission to eagerly and loudly attempt to disrupt the animal agriculture system. 7 THE ART OF WAR In the most Silicon Valley of stories, JUST was first headquartered in the garage of an unassuming little house at 371 Tenth Street in San Francisco—a short drive from the company’s current headquarters. It was a shoestring operation back then. About thirty people were on the staff.
Colón informed his friend who was dating Tetrick. Angry, she demanded Tetrick fire the woman he’d slept with, something he refused to do, texting that “Khosla would hang me—it is a huge lawsuit.” Khosla is, of course, Vinod Khosla, the prolific Silicon Valley venture capitalist and major early investor in JUST. In some ways, Tetrick’s entrepreneurial original sin might have been courting Khosla. It enabled growth, but the growing pains were difficult. When Tetrick first approached the firm, he knew very little about how to run a proper business, to say nothing of how to navigate a landscape of Silicon Valley investment titans. He says he had less than $3,000 in his bank account and a burning desire to make his and Balk’s idea work. From Tetrick’s perspective, it put Khosla in a terrific negotiating position. He signed a set of documents that laid out the terms and conditions of receiving funding.
The People vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (And How We Save It) by Jamie Bartlett
Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Boris Johnson, central bank independence, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, computer vision, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mittelstand, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, off grid, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, QR code, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Mercer, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, smart contracts, smart meter, Snapchat, Stanford prison experiment, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, strong AI, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, ultimatum game, universal basic income, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y Combinator
Having something to protect and a stake in society, this group is repeatedly found in studies to value individual freedom, property rights and democratic accountability more than other groups.11 The emergence of middle-class societies, especially in Europe and America increased the legitimacy of liberal democracy as a political system in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.12 To see what happens when tech-fuelled inequality takes off, there’s no better place to start than the home of it all, Silicon Valley and its increasingly put-upon neighbour, San Francisco. There are two worlds in Silicon Valley, and they barely ever meet. There’s the exciting start-up open-plan offices, with beanbags, table football, TED Talks and flip-flops, where the region’s half a million tech workers can expect to earn on average well over a hundred thousand dollars a year. (For the biggest companies, the median salary is higher still.) Mostly under 40, they want to live in nearby bustling San Francisco, since Silicon Valley can resemble The Stepford Wives. Each morning, thousands of tech workers hop on private, Wi-Fi-enabled coaches from one of the dozens of pick-up points in San Fran’s increasingly gentrified streets, and head down Highway 101 into Menlo Park (for Facebook), Sunnyvale (for Yahoo) or Mountain View (for Google).
All you needed to get to utopia was a belief in ‘disruption’, the idea that progress is achieved through smashing up old industries and institutions and replacing them with something new and digital. Steve Jobs – at once the acid-dropping hippy and the ruthless businessman – was this Californian Ideology incarnate. This is the secret behind the digital revolution. The reason that start-ups flock to Silicon Valley is not just the promise of building a better world – it’s because that’s where the venture capital is. Money and ideas in Silicon Valley have a very complicated relationship. Even start-up visionaries and wide-eyed socially minded inventors need money to survive, to pay extortionate Bay Area rent and to hire the best programmers. Silicon Valley runs according to a Faustian pact: money in exchange for world-changing ideas. But investment brings with it new responsibilities, and suddenly there are profit margins, quarterlies and growth targets. In some ways, tech is just the latest vehicle for very rich people to use well-tested techniques of buying political influence, monopolistic behaviour and regulation avoidance, to help them become even richer.
Still, rather than the hoped-for long tail of successful small vendors selling to niche markets, we instead have a few massive winners and little else. On iTunes, for example, 0.00001 per cent of tracks accounts for a sixth of all sales, while the bottom 94 per cent sell fewer than one hundred copies each.3 I suppose that’s technically a long tail, but it’s a very thin one.* Everyone in Silicon Valley knows all this, of course. They talk about the benefits of free markets, while at the same time betting the venture capital on monopolies. Peter Thiel – the founder of PayPal and probably the most influential of all the Silicon Valley tech investors – says he only puts money in companies that have monopoly potential. Some tech firms run at short-term loss, kept afloat by venture capital on a ‘growth before profit’ philosophy, as they chase market domination. Uber has been running billion-dollar losses for years: when there are no competitors left, their tempting prices may well be inflated.
Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
4chan, basic income, cloud computing, corporate governance, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, Filter Bubble, gig economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Milgram experiment, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Ted Nelson, theory of mind, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game
My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore. I haven’t for years.2 Better late than never. Plenty of critics like me have been warning that bad stuff was happening for a while now, but to hear this from the people who did the stuff is progress, a step forward. For years, I had to endure quite painful criticism from friends in Silicon Valley because I was perceived as a traitor for criticizing what we were doing. Lately I have the opposite problem. I argue that Silicon Valley people are for the most part decent, and I ask that we not be villainized; I take a lot of fresh heat for that. Whether I’ve been too hard or too soft on my community is hard to know. The more important question now is whether anyone’s criticism will matter. It’s undeniably out in the open that a bad technology is doing us harm, but will we—will you, meaning you—be able to resist and help steer the world to a better place?
If someone gets a reward—whether it’s positive social regard or a piece of candy—whenever they do a particular thing, then they’ll tend to do more of that thing. When people get a flattering response in exchange for posting something on social media, they get in the habit of posting more. That sounds innocent enough, but it can be the first stage of an addiction that becomes a problem both for individuals and society. Even though Silicon Valley types have a sanitized name for this phase, “engagement,” we fear it enough to keep our own children away from it. Many of the Silicon Valley kids I know attend Waldorf schools, which generally forbid electronics. Back to the surprising phenomenon: it’s not that positive and negative feedback work, but that somewhat random or unpredictable feedback can be more engaging than perfect feedback. If you get a piece of candy immediately every time you say please as a child, you’ll probably start saying please more often.
To avoid being left out, journalists had to create stories that emphasized clickbait and were detachable from context. They were forced to become BUMMER in order to not be annihilated by BUMMER. BUMMER has not only darkened the ethics of Silicon Valley; it has made the rest of the economy crazy. The economic side of BUMMER will be explored in Argument Nine. * * * Before moving on to Component F, I must explain the special role Component E plays in providing the financial incentives that keep the whole BUMMER machine in motion. If you hang out in Silicon Valley, you’ll hear a lot of chatter about how money is becoming obsolete, how we’re creating forms of power and influence that transcend money. Yet everybody still seems to be chasing money! If owning everyone’s attention by making the world terrifying happens to be what earns the most money, then that is what will happen, even if it means that bad actors are amplified.
The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur by Randy Komisar
Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, belly landing, discounted cash flows, estate planning, Jeff Bezos, Network effects, new economy, Pepto Bismol, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs
We hear variations on this theme from childhood on: Walk before you run. No peas, no pie. Pay your dues. Or, perhaps in the case of Jack Dolan, as Lenny saw him, work, then retireassuming you live long enough to retireand then devote your time to your passion. The Deferred Life Plan certainly dominates Silicon Valley. Most people think getting rich fast provides the quickest way to get past the first stepand where can you get rich faster than Silicon Valley? The problem is that, despite the undisguised affluence, the verdant hills, and media-generated mythos, the vast majority of people in Silicon Valley will not get rich. Most business ideas do not find funding. Even the majority of those that are fundedthat is, vetted by very smart people who think enough of the ideas to invest in themultimately fail. And the lucky winners may get to step two only Page 66 to find themselves aimless, directionless.
* * * title : The Monk and the Riddle : The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur author : Komisar, Randy.; Lineback, Kent L. publisher : Harvard Business School Press isbn10 | asin : 1578511402 print isbn13 : 9781578511402 ebook isbn13 : 9780585296623 language : English subject Komisar, Randy,--1954- , Businesspeople--United States--Biography, Entrepreneurship--United States--Biography. publication date : 2000 lcc : HC102.5.K66A3 2000eb ddc : 338/.04/092 subject : Komisar, Randy,--1954- , Businesspeople--United States--Biography, Entrepreneurship--United States--Biography. Page iii The Monk and the Riddle The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Randy Komisar with Kent Lineback Page iv Copyright 2000 Randy Komisar All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 04 03 02 01 00 5 4 3 2 The Web sites or URLs mentioned in this book originated in my imagination.
"I usually make the presentation on a computer, you know, throw it up on a screen, if I can. That's how Frank saw it. But I checked it out earlier. Too much glare in here. So we'll use the dead tree version." Here it comes. The pitch. People present ideas for new businesses to me two or three times a week. If I chose to, I could hear a pitch every dayall day, every day. Just as everyone in L.A. has a screenplay, everyone in Silicon Valley has a business planmost of them nowadays for Internet businesses. I've been around Silicon Valley and involved with young companies since the early '80sstartups, spinouts, spin-ins, what have you. I'm not in the phone book or listed in any professional directory. If you don't know someone I know, you can't find me. I wonder what Frank had in mind when he set me up with Lenny. I prefer to riff on ideas, brainstorm, prod and provoke, have some constructive give-and-take around a business concept.
Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America to Its Knees by Patrick Dillon, Carl M. Cannon
accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Bernie Madoff, buy and hold, collective bargaining, Columbine, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, desegregation, energy security, estate planning, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, illegal immigration, index fund, John Markoff, mandatory minimum, margin call, Maui Hawaii, money market fund, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, the High Line, the market place, white picket fence, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game
But that summer some unusual political alliances were forming in California and Silicon Valley around Lerach’s ballot proposition. For starters, influential venture capitalist L. John Doerr had taken the reins from Tom Proulx as the chief organizer in opposition to the Lerach initiative. For another, Silicon Valley was playing both sides of the street: although Doerr still publicly claimed to be a Republican, he openly admired Al Gore and had attended the Democratic National Convention that summer in Chicago. Wiry and hyperkinetic, John Doerr was a forty-five-year-old former inventor and design engineer for Monsanto (and later marketing manager for Intel, the giant chipmaker). For sixteen years as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, he personally helped shape the Silicon Valley, betting on emergent companies such as Intuit, Netscape, Amazon, and Sun Micro systems.
You want government bureaucrats, not subject to the economic discipline of the marketplace? Or do you want guys like me? I may be rancid butter, but you know I’m on your side of the bread.” Naturally, he had made enemies—in competing law firms, on Capitol Hill, and especially in boardrooms from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, where he existed in a parallel corporate subconscious as a modern Vandal or Visigoth. Buttoned-down and otherwise sober executives would vehemently denounce Lerach as a “bloodsucking scumbag,” or an “economic pirate.” (One Silicon Valley executive went so far as to publicly wish him out of human existence.) A verb had even been given his name. In boardrooms, to be “Lerached” meant being threatened with having to surrender more than a million documents and risk testimony from CEOs on down to the lowliest document clerks in order to fend off a $100 million lawsuit.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Lerach was the skunk—albeit a bespectacled skunk in an expensive suit—in Silicon Valley’s garden party. Garden orgy was more like it. The celebrated high-tech companies that did so much to increase American productivity and remake the U.S. economy were experiencing their first great market run, capturing venture capital, going public, securing more money, and publicly promoting CEOs as the visionaries who would produce a galaxy of life-changing products. Time magazine featured a group of new IPO zillionaires in a cover story “Golden Geeks,” dubbing them “Instantaires.” This was not an isolated example. As vainglorious pronouncements were spouting daily from Silicon Valley, a kind of unreflective euphoria emanated from California, sweeping the country. America, it seemed, was pandering to wealth.
Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin
1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transfer pricing, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator
Thiel’s stated reason was to destroy Gawker, one of whose publications, Valleywag, had outed Thiel in 2007. After that incident Thiel had stated, “Valleywag is the Silicon Valley equivalent of al-Qaida.” Nine years later he got his revenge, telling the New York Times, “I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.” The revelation quickly exposed the battle lines between Silicon Valley and the media. Mark Zuckerberg had publicly stated that privacy norms were evolving and his board member Thiel had backed him up. But with Gawker, Thiel was reasserting his right to privacy, even though it was general knowledge in Silicon Valley that he was gay. The irony was that Owen Thomas, the gay writer who wrote the Valleywag piece, ended with this statement: “That’s why I think it’s important to say this: Peter Thiel, the smartest VC in the world, is gay.
Grover Norquist, the libertarian antitax advocate who vowed to “shrink the government to the size that he could drown it in a bathtub,” told Vox’s Ezra Klein that the only things keeping Silicon Valley money in the Democratic Party were cultural issues. With “gay marriage off the table,” he said, “it could be a very easy case” to persuade the big Silicon Valley players to give money and support to the Republicans, who oppose teachers’ unions, oppose regulating the sharing economy, and are wholeheartedly in favor of free trade. 5. The unreality of the world of tech billionaires came home to me when I spent two days in 2015 at an invitation-only conference with Graydon Carter, editor in chief of Vanity Fair, and the swells of Silicon Valley in San Francisco. The conference, called the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, left me wondering whether there isn’t a kind of bubble in the Valley that has nothing to do with the inflated valuations of the “unicorns” (private companies worth more than $1 billion), which were so much a focus of conversation onstage and envy offstage—especially from established Hollywood moguls, who are drawn to Graydon Carter like moths to a flame.
The original mission of the Internet was hijacked by a small group of right-wing radicals to whom the ideas of democracy and decentralization were anathema. By the late 1980s, starting with eventual PayPal founder Peter Thiel’s class at Stanford University, the dominant philosophy of Silicon Valley would be based far more heavily on the radical libertarian ideology of Ayn Rand than the commune-based principles of Ken Kesey and Stewart Brand. Thiel, who was also an early investor in Facebook and is the godfather of what he proudly calls the PayPal Mafia, which currently rules Silicon Valley, has been clear about his credo, stating, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” More important, Thiel says that if you want to create and capture lasting value, you should look to build a monopoly. Three of the companies that have played the largest role in imperiling artists are clear monopolies.
European Founders at Work by Pedro Gairifo Santos
business intelligence, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, fear of failure, full text search, information retrieval, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, natural language processing, pattern recognition, pre–internet, recommendation engine, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, subscription business, technology bubble, web application, Y Combinator
Basically, what do you think are the biggest differences, challenges, and opportunities for European entrepreneurs vs. US entrepreneurs? Because there is this Silicon Valley vs. the rest mentality. What's your opinion on that? Klein: I think I really don't like that notion. I think it's a very cheap idea that is only sort of useful for getting re-tweets and blog headlines. I think the reality is that it's not about Europe vs. Silicon Valley. The best entrepreneurs in Europe understand Silicon Valley very well. They have spent time in Silicon Valley and developed relationships in Silicon Valley. Take all of that and all of the value that comes from that because you're a fool if you think that Silicon Valley isn't the most sophisticated, vibrant place for technology start-ups on the planet. It probably will continue to be so for the next twenty-five to fifty years because of the network.
It probably will continue to be so for the next twenty-five to fifty years because of the network. And the ecosystem is so profound there and keeps on getting stronger with Zynga, with Twitter, with Facebook, etc. I think any European entrepreneur or any entrepreneur in this space that doesn't want to spend time or learn from Silicon Valley is foolish. But I think there's a lot of things that you can learn and be aware of as an entrepreneur if you're not in Silicon Valley, that you can use to your advantage. I think many times there is a groupthink that emerges in Silicon Valley. The main argument is that there are many people in Europe who have fundamentally changed industries. From Niklas and Janus in the telecom space, to Daniel Ek in music, to Martin Mickos in enterprise software, to the guys who reinvented anti-virus software at Message Labs and AVG, Ventee Privee, Wonga—the list goes on.
We need in Europe (including Israel) to learn how to develop the conditions to create serious scale. Right now, Silicon Valley is peerless at both supporting innovation and creating serious scale. There’s been no master plan, but the 60-year interplay of government as an early catalyst; academia and established companies as early customers and sources of talent; and of course, investors willing to take risks and a long term view, have given entrepreneurs fertile ground to sow seeds and try to grow monsters with dragon’s teeth ready to conquer the world. You need every element of this ecosystem working perfectly to create monsters—and Facebook, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Twitter, VMware, and Zynga have all been recent beneficiaries there. In fact, the capacity for serious scale is almost part of the muscle memory of Silicon Valley’s residents. As a newly-minted founder, you have unparalleled access within a 10-mile radius to a living ecosystem of talent and investors who have been part of businesses in almost every technology sector.
That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea by Marc Randolph
Airbnb, crowdsourcing, high net worth, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, late fees, loose coupling, Mason jar, pets.com, recommendation engine, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Travis Kalanick
In common parlance, it’s typically a good thing when someone says, Hey, there’s a million-dollar idea! But in Silicon Valley, that’s not very much. To wit: Netflix is currently worth around $150 billion. Back in 1997, though, Reed and I decided that the intellectual property—the idea for DVD by mail, plus the fact that he and I were the ones working on it—was worth $3 million. That wasn’t a ton—but it seemed like enough. Enough to take seriously, but not so much that no one would want to risk money on it. We figured that it would take $2 million to get the company off the ground: $1 million to get the site launched, and another $1 million to run it while raising our next round of funding. We’d need an angel investor. Luckily, both of us knew one: Reed. Reed wanted to be our angel investor because, even though he was leaving Silicon Valley for the education world, he wanted a way to stay connected to it.
He was too valuable to lose over a job title, so I reluctantly agreed to add the finance piece, while impressing upon him that with Duane on board—albeit in a temporary way—the real place we needed him at the start would be in operations. CFO would come. He would just have to be patient. In the meantime, I had to find a place for Jim—and all the rest of us—to work. We needed an office. I had strong feelings about being a Santa Cruz company—of bucking the prevailing norms of Silicon Valley and not moving to a cookie-cutter office park in Sunnyvale or San Jose. Santa Cruz spoke to me. It’s a beach town, a surf town. A whiff of the sixties still clings to it. There are probably more Volkswagen vans than there are people. Its prevailing ethos, as a city, is the opposite of Silicon Valley’s “growth at all costs” model. People in Santa Cruz are typically against development. They’ve opposed widening the roads. They don’t want it to grow. Growth is God, over the Santa Cruz mountains. But in Santa Cruz, it’s vulgar. I wanted some of Santa Cruz’s laid-back ethos for my company.
By the time we were starting to raise money, I was actively recruiting him, and I started buying him lunch at Buck’s. Buck’s is one of the temples of Silicon Valley. So many companies have been birthed there—conceived, funded, or otherwise organized—that the owners should probably start demanding a cut. The food is very good, elevated comfort-food diner fare, but the atmosphere is what you go for. Probably the most notable piece of décor—and the place is packed to the gills with stuff—is a motorless car suspended from the ceiling. Remember Soap Box Derby? Home-built wooden cars that you roll down a hill to race, in Boy Scouts? Well, consider this Silicon Valley’s version. Every year, there was a motorless car race on Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto, with multimillion-dollar VC firms fighting for bragging rights.
The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Bob Noyce, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, diversification, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, financial innovation, full employment, German hyperinflation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google bus, Google Chrome, Gordon Gekko, income inequality, index fund, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, late capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, means of production, merger arbitrage, Metcalfe's law, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, passive investing, patent troll, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, prediction markets, prisoner's dilemma, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Sam Peltzman, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, undersea cable, Vanguard fund, very high income, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game
Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=992272. 69. http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Walmart-closures-leaving-small-towns-broken-residents/story?id=36559225. Chapter 4: Squeezing the Worker 1. “Silicon Valley,” American Experience PBS Series, Season 25, Episode 3. http://www.pbs.org/video/american-experience-silicon-valley/. 2. Alex Tabarrok, “Non Compete Clauses Reduce Innovation,” June 9, 2014, http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/06/non-compete-clauses.html. 3. Mike McPhate, “California Today: Silicon Valley's Secret Sauce,” May 19, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/us/california-today-silicon-valley.html. 4. https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2011/1212/Robert-Noyce-Why-Steve-Jobs-idolized-Noyce. 5. Jim Edwards, “Emails from Google's Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin Show a Shady Agreement Not to Hire Apple Workers,” March 23, 2014, http://www.businessinsider.com/emails-eric-schmidt-sergey-brin-hiring-apple-2014-3. 6.
To this day, Boston continues to lag Silicon Valley in the commercialization of new technologies. Imagine where the Valley would be today if Noyce were prevented from defecting and founding a new firm with his colleagues. What if Wozniak had never left Hewlett Packard to join Steve Jobs? Think of the history of technology. Imagine where we would be today if Nikola Tesla were prevented from leaving Thomas Edison. Silicon Valley's history demonstrates that respect for worker talent was prized above strict company loyalty. This lead to a malleable ecosystem, where good ideas spread quickly from company to company and innovators were free to choose their own fates. Professor AnnaLee Saxenian, author of many books on the tech industry, points out that, “In the early days engineers would say, ‘I work for Silicon Valley.’ And the idea was that they were advancing technology for a region, not any single company's technology.
It is also now home to roughly one-third of the nation's welfare recipients, roughly three times its share as a percentage of the population.7 In the old days, the state's tech sector produced industrial jobs that sparked prosperity not only in Silicon Valley, but also in working class towns like San Jose. The iPhone is a metaphor for Silicon Valley. Today, when you buy an iPhone, it says designed in California, but it is manufactured in China. The manufacturing jobs for the working class are long gone. The tech monopolies are making billions of dollars of profit, but the Silicon Valley growth engine appears to be going in reverse. In 2017 job growth began to roll over, as the Bay Area lost more jobs than it created throughout much of the year.8 Housing costs have become prohibitively high and commutes to cheaper housing are becoming longer.
The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells
"Robert Solow", Apple II, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Noyce, borderless world, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, complexity theory, computer age, computerized trading, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, edge city, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, future of work, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, income inequality, Induced demand, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, intermodal, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, Leonard Kleinrock, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, moral panic, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, packet switching, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, popular capitalism, popular electronics, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social software, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, urban renewal, urban sprawl, zero-sum game
So, there has been, at the same time, a process of concentration of technological know-how in transnational production networks, and a much broader diffusion of this knowhow around the world, as the geography of trans-border production networks becomes increasingly complex. I will illustrate this analysis with developments in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s. Seizing new opportunities of innovation spurred by the Internet revolution, Silicon Valley increased its technological leadership in information technology vis-à-vis the rest of the world. But Silicon Valley in 2000 is, socially and ethnically, a totally different Silicon Valley from what it was in the 1970s. Anna Lee Saxenian, the leading analyst of Silicon Valley, has shown, in her 1999 study the decisive role of immigrant entrepreneurs in the new make-up of this high-tech node. According to Saxenian: Recent research suggests that the “brain drain” may be giving way to a process of “brain circulation,” as talented immigrants who study and work in the US return to their home countries to take advantage of promising opportunities there.
Meanwhile, California’s complex of technology-related sectors increasingly relies on Taiwan’s speedy and flexible infrastructure for manufacturing semiconductors and PCs, as well as their fast-growing markets for advanced technology components.100 The California connection is not limited to Asia. Two of Saxenian’s students have shown a similarly powerful connection between Silicon Valley and the booming Israeli software industry, and a significant, if still small, presence of Mexican engineers in Silicon Valley.101 Thus, Silicon Valley expanded on the basis of the technological and business networks it spun around the world. In return, the firms created around these networks attracted talent from everywhere (but primarily from India and China – in just proportion of the world population), who ultimately transformed Silicon Valley itself, and furthered the technology connection with their countries of origin. Granted, Silicon Valley is a very special case because of its pre-eminence in information technology innovation. Yet, it is likely that studies in other hightechnology regions around the world will show a similar mechanism, as networks reinforce themselves, cutting across national borders, and attracting embodied know-how, which is the most significant process of technology transfer and innovation in the Information Age.
It was this technology transfer from Shockley to Fairchild, then to a network of spin-off companies, that constituted the initial source of innovation on which Silicon Valley and the micro-electronics revolution were built. Indeed, by the mid-1950s Stanford and Berkeley were not yet leading centers in electronics; MIT was, and this was reflected in the original location of the electronics industry in New England. However, as soon as knowledge was available in Silicon Valley, the dynamism of its industrial structure and the continuous creation of start-up firms anchored Silicon Valley as the world’s micro-electronics center by the early 1970s. Anna Saxenian compared the development of electronics complexes in the two areas (Boston’s Route 128 and Silicon Valley) and concluded that the decisive role was played by the social and industrial organization of companies in fostering or stymieing innovation.65 Thus, while large, established companies in the East were too rigid (and too arrogant) to constantly retool themselves toward new technological frontiers, Silicon Valley kept churning out new firms, and practicing cross-fertilization and knowledge diffusion by job-hopping and spin-offs.
Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination by Adam Lashinsky
"side hustle", Airbnb, always be closing, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, business process, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, DARPA: Urban Challenge, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, gig economy, Golden Gate Park, Google X / Alphabet X, information retrieval, Jeff Bezos, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, pattern recognition, price mechanism, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, South of Market, San Francisco, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, turn-by-turn navigation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, young professional
For Kalanick, Uber also was the culmination of his experiences to date as an entrepreneur, the sum total of his failures and successes—plus the usual right-time/right-place luck. Paul Sagan, who as CEO of Akamai bought Kalanick’s company Red Swoosh, has observed Uber’s CEO from a distance for years. He calls Kalanick “the Goldilocks of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.” His first company, Scour, Sagan said, was too hard—a shooting star that flamed out spectacularly. Red Swoosh was too soft—a labor of love for Kalanick that was never going to be a business. “Uber,” says Sagan, “is just right.” “Just right” is understatement, of course. Silicon Valley is packed with strivers, dreamers, and mercenaries certain they will change the world, realize untold riches, and etch their names on virtual monuments to the power of innovation and disruption. Almost none of these entrepreneurs will succeed.
For all that, Uber’s story remains a tale of our times: of the transformative power of technology, the impermanence of long-term employment, and the opportunity in Silicon Valley and virtual communities like it to turn scrappiness, moxie, and smarts into vast fortunes. CHAPTER 2 Training Wheels In the mid-1990s, the sun-speckled campus of the University of California, Los Angeles, in LA’s Westwood neighborhood, was known for many things. The Bruins of football and basketball fame were perennial contenders. UCLA boasted a first-rate film school, conveniently located in Hollywood’s backyard. Its medical center was world class, not least because of the multitude of Southern California’s rich and famous in its care. What UCLA was not, however, was a hotbed for start-up companies founded by computer nerds. The center of gravity for computer science is 350 miles north, in Silicon Valley, its epicenter on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto.
Worse, traditional sources of funding for start-up technology companies, especially those run by teams of youthful entrepreneurs whose last start-up had flamed out, had dried up. Kalanick met with a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley—a perennial challenge was the dearth of tech investors in Southern California—who told him he’d felt there was no more innovation left to be invented in software. “It was the most irrationally cynical thing you could ever imagine. It was just a sign of the times.” Kalanick was experiencing the herd mentality that drives venture-capital funding cycles. Silicon Valley investors often would rather invest in five online pet stores than one unique venture. For better or worse, the small Red Swoosh team was pursuing the only business it knew with the only potential clients that would grant them meetings.
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli
Albert Einstein, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Bob Noyce, Byte Shop, Charles Lindbergh, computer age, corporate governance, El Camino Real, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, market design, McMansion, Menlo Park, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tim Cook: Apple, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog
McKenna was expert at presenting a company’s tale, but he was also a master corporate business strategist. Silicon Valley has long depended on marketers nearly as much as it has depended on engineers. Every technological advance must be framed in a beguiling narrative if it’s to get off the workbench and into businesses or homes. These advances often are foreign concepts, after all, with potential that seems opaque if not daunting, so the job of a great marketer is to wrestle the concept back to earth and make it approachable for mere technophobic mortals. McKenna’s consultancy would have a hand in the creation of many of the elite companies in Silicon Valley and beyond, including National Semiconductor, Silicon Graphics, Electronic Arts, Compaq, Intel, and Lotus Software. McKenna quickly saw that Steve was unusually articulate and driven. “He had what I’d call Silicon Valley street smarts,” says McKenna.
If Steve and Woz were going to have any chance of producing and selling such a snazzy machine, they would have to scrounge up some serious working capital. They needed far more than they could get by continuing to cadge personal loans from friends, parents, and advance payments from proprietors of hobby shops. Not knowing exactly where he could get that kind of money, Steve began to make a real effort to connect with Silicon Valley’s cloistered world of successful entrepreneurs, marketers, and financiers. In 1976, the route to success in Silicon Valley wasn’t remotely as well mapped as it is today, when entrepreneurs can find the path to financing by simply Googling “venture capital.” Back then the Valley had a much smaller mix of lawyers, financiers, and managers, and most business was conducted face-to-face. But Steve had several qualities that made him a superb networker. “I was really lucky to get into computers when it was a very young industry,” he once told me.
Robert Noyce was charismatic and forward-thinking and had only been able to start Intel after leaving the shadow of the most imposing figure in semiconductor history, William Shockley. The systems that Andy Grove put in place were more complex and rigorous than anything Mike Scott had ever seen, and yet Grove had also been able to make his company one of the most creative places in Silicon Valley. And Regis McKenna became so adept at deftly navigating the constant shifts and tremors of Silicon Valley culture that he would wind up writing several books explaining how others could do the same. These were well-rounded, complicated, deep, and fascinating men. They were comfortable with change, and they lived where Steve wanted to live himself—at the intersection of technology and something that was more like the liberal arts. They were people who played the corporate game by rules of their own devising.
Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser
affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, carbon footprint, Celebration, Florida, clean water, congestion charging, declining real wages, desegregation, different worldview, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, European colonialism, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, global village, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute cuisine, Home mortgage interest deduction, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job-hopping, John Snow's cholera map, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, Rosa Parks, school vouchers, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, Thales and the olive presses, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Works Progress Administration, young professional
Yet so far at least, skilled Americans and Europeans seem to have gotten more from the ability to work the world market than they’ve lost from foreign competition. The most-skilled people in the rich countries have thrived by selling their ideas to the world and by using worldwide labor to produce their inventions more cheaply. The software producers in Bangalore haven’t made Silicon Valley obsolete. Instead, they’ve made it cheaper—and thus easier—for Silicon Valley firms to develop software. The Rise of Silicon Valley America’s greatest information technology hub is Santa Clara County, California, which most people know better as Silicon Valley. Much like Bangalore, the Valley achieved this status by making its luck with education. A century ago, when New York and Nagasaki were old, computers didn’t exist, and Santa Clara County was covered in orchards and farms. This agricultural community became a world capital of high technology because Senator Leland Stanford, a railroad magnate, decided to build a university on his eight-thousand-acre horse farm.
By that time, Shockley had left Bell Labs and headed out to California, where his enormous abilities—and a fatal flaw—would both assert themselves and both contribute to the success of Silicon Valley. Like Pericles and the Abbasid caliphs, he had a rare talent for attracting geniuses. In his first years, he searched America’s campuses and brought great young minds eager to come to Silicon Valley and work with the Nobel laureate. But Shockley was a capricious and dictatorial manager who couldn’t keep the talent that he had attracted. In one notorious incident, he made his workers take lie detector tests in order to establish who was responsible for a secretary’s cutting her hand on a pin. By attracting and then repelling genius, Shockley both brought talented people to Silicon Valley and ensured that they would be starting their own firms instead of just working for him. At one point, eight of his best young scientists collectively quit.
Two former Hewlett-Packard employees, both members of Silicon Valley’s Homebrew Computer Club, mixed hardware and software innovations when they started Apple Computer. A former Apple employee started eBay in the 1990s, when Silicon Valley also became the place for pioneering the Internet. Both Yahoo! and Google were formed by Stanford graduates not far from their alma mater. In some ways, Silicon Valley is like a well-functioning traditional city. It attracts brilliant people and then connects them. Walker’s Wagon Wheel played a legendary role as a place where smart entrepreneurs shared ideas with one another outside the confines of their various day jobs. Silicon Valley’s concentration is also a response to the curse of communicating complexity; all that cutting-edge technology can be pretty complicated, and geographic proximity helps the flow of information. Like all of today’s successful cities, its strength lies in its human capital, which is nurtured by Stanford University and attracted by economic opportunity and a pleasant climate.
Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American ideology, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, blue-collar work, Burning Man, centre right, circulation of elites, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, George Gilder, gig economy, Gini coefficient, income inequality, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral panic, mortgage debt, Nelson Mandela, new economy, obamacare, payday loans, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, pre–internet, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Republic of Letters, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, union organizing, urban decay, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, young professional
For people who take the latter view, the Obama presidency is another triumphant iteration of the story Silicon Valley loves to tell itself, the tale of the brilliant startup challenging the slow-moving incumbent, of the scrappy underdog who takes on the conservative dinosaur. Obama is thus said to be, in a typical bit of liberal-class narcissism, “the first tech president.” The tech people themselves go further: a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist calls him “the greatest president of my lifetime.” This is virtually the last surviving form of Obama idealism out there, still going strong in the president’s final year in office.* The administration’s relationship with Silicon Valley has never caused the kind of controversy that his former closeness with Wall Street did—probably because Silicon Valley has never contrived to toss the world economy into a wood chipper. Also, it is hard to hate this industry, regardless of what they do. An aura of youthful lightheartedness seems to envelop every interaction between the president and the techies.
Obama: “I know you’re OK with that.”3 In the 1980s and ’90s, Silicon Valley was not a particularly Democratic industry. Its libertarianism was well-known and the subject of endless fascination; its leaders were among the richest people in the world; and its great chronicler and booster at the time, George Gilder, was a prominent conservative intellectual whose works had been influential in the Reagan administration. Gilder’s take on Silicon Valley’s politics went far beyond the partisan preferences of its leading figures; the primacy of market economics, Gilder said, was actually inscribed in the structure of the microchip itself. By its very architecture, tech was supposed to work against economic authority of the taxing and regulating kind. Not anymore. Today, Silicon Valley’s prosperity is supposed to be the ultimate demonstration of the worthiness of the liberal class.
By that time, the place once filled by finance in the Democratic imagination had begun giving way to Silicon Valley, a different “creative-class” industry with billions to give in campaign contributions. Changes in the administration’s personnel paralleled the money story: at the beginning of the Obama years, the government’s revolving doors had all connected to Wall Street; within a few years, the people spinning them were either coming from or heading toward the West Coast. In 2014, David Plouffe, the architect of Obama’s inspiring first presidential campaign, began to work his political magic for Uber. Jay Carney, the president’s former press secretary, hired on at Amazon the following year. Larry Summers, for his part, became an adviser for an outfit called OpenGov. Back in Washington, meanwhile, the president established a special federal unit that used Silicon Valley techniques and personnel to revolutionize the government’s web presence; starstruck tech journalists call it “Obama’s stealth startup.”2 The mutual attraction between the president and Silicon Valley had actually begun during Obama’s first campaign, when he famously used Facebook to connect with the young; his reelection effort was the first to use big data and microtargeting to find swing voters.
Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work by Sarah Kessler
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business cycle, call centre, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, financial independence, future of work, game design, gig economy, income inequality, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, job automation, law of one price, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, payday loans, post-work, profit maximization, QR code, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator
Then Managed by Q’s founders took head shots of each of the cleaners, which would be displayed on the iPad app, handed out black zip-up track jackets and T-shirts—each branded with a white “Q” that matched the water bottles—and hoped for the best. In Silicon Valley, other “Uber for X” entrepreneurs were solving the service portion of their businesses in a similar way. Though some hired subcontractors, like Managed by Q, and some hired independent contractors, like Uber, the misconception behind both strategies was similar: “We’d build this beautiful interface, and of course the cleaning just happens,” Saman remembered thinking. “Of course the stuff just gets done.” PART II SUNSHINE, RAINBOWS, AND UNICORNS CHAPTER 5 LIKE AN ATM IN YOUR POCKET The percentage of adults who earned some income through websites like Uber, Airbnb, and Mechanical Turk grew 47-fold between 2012 and 2015, expanding to include around 4% of adults in the United States.1 As the gig economy gained traction, Silicon Valley was sure that it would change the world.
Shortly after that, a tribunal would reject the company’s appeal to a ruling that found its drivers were not self-employed, entitling drivers to paid time off and a minimum wage. (In each case, Uber continued with the appeals process.) During the same stretch of bad news for Uber, the top EU court dealt the company a major blow when it ruled that it should be regulated as a taxi company rather than a technology company that merely connects drivers and riders. The gig economy, as Silicon Valley had invented it, had largely come and gone. It had not, however, ceased to be relevant. Long before the gig economy, large companies outside of Silicon Valley had started moving away from direct employment relationships. Startups like Uber demonstrated new strategies and technologies that could make this process more efficient. They broke work into parcels, automatically coordinated workers, and established practices for using apps as management. These were all developments that non-startups would emulate.
Then, just as more than 40 million people around the world do every month, I took out my smartphone and ordered an Uber.5 A driver named Abid drove me home. He usually drove all night, he told me, because that’s when his app tended to pay the most. * * * From the time I first heard about the gig economy until I finished writing this book, I spent nearly six years observing a sector of the economy that brought together the tremendous hopes of Silicon Valley and the disappointing reality that our support systems are not prepared to handle the major changes on the horizon. At the end of it, I don’t think Silicon Valley was wrong to attempt to restructure the job. Our current model wasn’t working, and the startup spirit of experimentation was necessary. But attempting to tackle the problems of the job—and yes, delivering flexibility—without fixing the support structures around it can’t quite count as progress, and it certainly doesn’t look like innovation.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bioinformatics, corporate governance, Donald Trump, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Google Chrome, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, medical malpractice, Menlo Park, obamacare, Ponzi scheme, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Travis Kalanick, ubercab
Standing on the deck of the open-air events house, Elizabeth harangued employees for forty-five minutes as the fog rolled in, like General Patton addressing his troops before the Allied landings. The sweeping view before them was appropriate, she said, because Theranos was about to become Silicon Valley’s dominant company. Toward the end she boasted, “I’m not afraid of anything,” adding after a brief pause, “except needles.” By this point, Greg had become fully disillusioned and resolved to stick around only two more months until his stock options vested on the first anniversary of his hiring. He’d recently gone to a job fair at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, and had found himself unable to talk the company up to students who stopped by the Theranos booth. Instead, he’d focused his advice on the merits of a career in Silicon Valley. Part of the problem was that Elizabeth and Sunny seemed unable, or unwilling, to distinguish between a prototype and a finished product.
Then he dropped another bombshell: Holmes and Balwani were romantically involved. I knew from reading the New Yorker and Fortune articles and from browsing the Theranos website that Balwani was the company’s president and chief operating officer. If what Alan was saying was true, this added a new twist: Silicon Valley’s first female billionaire tech founder was sleeping with her number-two executive, who was nearly twenty years her senior. It was sloppy corporate governance, but then again this was a private company. There were no rules against that sort of thing in Silicon Valley’s private startup world. What I found more interesting was the fact that Holmes seemed to be hiding the relationship from her board. Why else would the New Yorker article have portrayed her as single, with Henry Kissinger telling the magazine that he and his wife had tried to fix her up on dates?
It was a reflection of the computer industry’s tendency to play it fast and loose when it came to marketing. Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle were all accused of engaging in the practice at one point or another. Such overpromising became a defining feature of Silicon Valley. The harm done to consumers was minor, measured in frustration and deflated expectations. By positioning Theranos as a tech company in the heart of the Valley, Holmes channeled this fake-it-until-you-make-it culture, and she went to extreme lengths to hide the fakery. Many companies in Silicon Valley make their employees sign nondisclosure agreements, but at Theranos the obsession with secrecy reached a whole different level. Employees were prohibited from putting “Theranos” on their LinkedIn profiles. Instead, they were told to write that they worked for a “private biotechnology company.”
Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption by Ben Mezrich
"side hustle", airport security, Albert Einstein, bank run, Ben Horowitz, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, buttonwood tree, cryptocurrency, East Village, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, family office, fault tolerance, fiat currency, financial innovation, game design, Isaac Newton, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, new economy, offshore financial centre, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, QR code, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sand Hill Road, Satoshi Nakamoto, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, transaction costs, zero-sum game
“Bitcoiners Anonymous,” Naval quipped, “a support group for the engineers and entrepreneurs suffering from a crypto addiction.” “So, you’re the enablers?” Tyler asked. “Precisely. We’re the only people in Silicon Valley right now who care about crypto. I take it you guys haven’t been spending much time in the Valley lately.” It was very true. “The people in this room are mostly Silicon Valley outsiders anyway. They build the protocols and tools that power the internet, its plumbing. You could even call them the roadies of the internet.” Naval was right. While some of the faces here were known in deeper technology circles, and Tyler and Cameron recognized some of them, most were not the Silicon Valley “brands” that people across America knew, the billion-dollar unicorns who dominated the West Coast tech scene. They were, instead, the technical heavyweights, who spent their time working on the guts of the internet, focused on the deeper transport and network layers, not the surface, where sexy companies like Facebook and Google lived.
They needed to go back to the arena where it had all started and begin to fight all over again. 3 DAMAGED GOODS Four weeks later, Cameron’s thoughts were moving at a thousand rpms as he stepped out of the taxi that had taken them straight to the heart of Silicon Valley from SFO. It was “a thirty-minute ride” that never took less than an hour but was at least pretty pleasant if you took the 280 instead of the crapshoot that was the 101. Then again, Cameron had barely noticed the scenery as he sat next to his brother in the back of the cab, going through the heavy folder of company pitch decks they’d brought with them from New York City. After hanging up their oars and officially retiring from U.S. Olympic Crew, they’d dived headlong back into the high-tech entrepreneurial scene that was centered in Silicon Valley. But unlike Zuckerberg years earlier, they hadn’t moved west. Manhattan had been the easy choice for their home base of operations.
They had planned to study computer science at Harvard, but the time commitment of the rowing team had made it impossible, so they’d majored in economics instead. Zuckerberg had gotten lucky—in another world, the twins never would have had to approach him for coding help. In any event, Tyler and Cameron didn’t believe they were on the earth to exist; they were here to create, to build. And there was no greater place to build the future than Silicon Valley. It was more than a place filled with entrepreneurs toting pitch decks: Silicon Valley was a living, breathing organism. It had a circulatory system, represented by the big name VCs in their low-rise California ranch-style office parks, lined up along nearby Sand Hill Road: first settled by Kleiner Perkins in 1972, the proverbial “Sand Hill” was now home to the likes of Sequoia, Accel, Founders Fund, and Andreessen Horowitz, to name a few.
To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov
3D printing, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Automated Insights, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive bias, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, disintermediation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, future of journalism, game design, Gary Taubes, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of the printing press, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, lifelogging, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, moral panic, Narrative Science, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, packet switching, PageRank, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, pets.com, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart meter, social graph, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks
In this book, I have no such luxury, and I question both the means and the ends of Silicon Valley’s latest quest to “solve problems.” I contend here that Silicon Valley’s promise of eternal amelioration has blunted our ability to do this questioning. Who today is mad enough to challenge the virtues of eliminating hypocrisy from politics? Or of providing more information—the direct result of self-tracking—to facilitate decision making? Or of finding new incentives to get people interested in saving humanity, fighting climate change, or participating in politics? Or of decreasing crime? To question the appropriateness of such interventions, it seems, is to question the Enlightenment itself. And yet I feel that such questioning is necessary. Hence the premise of this book: Silicon Valley’s quest to fit us all into a digital straightjacket by promoting efficiency, transparency, certitude, and perfection—and, by extension, eliminating their evil twins of friction, opacity, ambiguity, and imperfection—will prove to be prohibitively expensive in the long run.
The Perils of Willpower On Frictionless Traps Technologies and Truths Postscript Notes Acknowledgments Index Copyright Page To my parents Introduction “In an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost.” —ALDOUS HUXLEY “Complexity is a solvable problem in the right hands.” —JEFF JARVIS Silicon Valley is guilty of many sins, but lack of ambition is not one of them. If you listen to its loudest apostles, Silicon Valley is all about solving problems that someone else—perhaps the greedy bankers on Wall Street or the lazy know-nothings in Washington—have created. “Technology is not really about hardware and software any more. It’s really about the mining and use of this enormous data to make the world a better place,” Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, told an audience of MIT students in 2011.
“There are a lot of really big issues for the world to get solved and, as a company, what we are trying to do is to build an infrastructure on top of which to solve some of these problems,” announced Zuckerberg. In the last few years, Silicon Valley’s favorite slogan has quietly changed from “Innovate or Die!” to “Ameliorate or Die!” In the grand scheme of things, what exactly is being improved is not very important; being able to change things, to get humans to behave in more responsible and sustainable ways, to maximize efficiency, is all that matters. Half-baked ideas that might seem too big even for the naïfs at TED Conferences—that Woodstock of the intellectual effete—sit rather comfortably on Silicon Valley’s business plans. “Fitter, happier, more productive”—the refreshingly depressive motto of the popular Radiohead song from the mid-1990s—would make for an apt welcome sign in the corporate headquarters of its many digital mavens.
We Are the Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
4chan, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, East Village, game design, Golden Gate Park, hiring and firing, Internet Archive, Jacob Appelbaum, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joi Ito, Justin.tv, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, QR code, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technoutopianism, uber lyft, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator
Over the next few years, I conducted dozens of interviews, racked up introductions to current and former Reddit employees, and pored over leaked chat logs and old photographs. In the meantime, Reddit, as its userbase swelled and its leadership tried to transform it into a profitable company, underwent a series of staffing convulsions and scandals that would have proven the downfall of many startups. A well-regarded Silicon Valley insider was installed as the new CEO, and, in the midst of a massive pornography scandal, raised $50 million. Shortly after, he flamed out under mysterious circumstances. Silicon Valley feminist hero Ellen Pao, who famously sued a top venture capital firm for gender discrimination, was promoted to chief executive. In 2015, Pao too would be forced out after a user revolt that included sexist attacks, personal threats, and which culminated in a near-site-wide blackout. It appeared as if Reddit’s enormous community, by then the seventh most popular site on the American Internet, might snuff itself out.
He wasn’t persnickety about the contractual language; he had one big, if simple, request—and it was one that required altering the acquisition price and the payout schedule, and the percentages allocated to all parties, including Y Combinator, Graham, and a stock option pool to be left open for future employees. At the close of the deal, Huffman wanted to be a millionaire. It was a weirdly rigid demand that ruffled Condé Nast’s lawyers: They were not accustomed to this sort of Silicon Valley–style acquisition, where Huffman’s behavior was not just the norm, but mild, even. Graham recalls Condé Nast’s lawyers being draconian, “partly because they were just inexperienced” in the way Silicon Valley deals Graham had experienced worked, but also all Reddit parties involved recall there being a “New York” vibe to the negotiations, a particularly curt and abrasive nature that felt like a combination of bureaucracy and backlash. Still, Huffman’s monetary demand and the rash of paper cuts from the Condé Nast lawyers were nothing compared to how Swartz complicated matters.
Significant venture capital rounds were in their minds associated with fast-growing startups unconcerned by trivial matters such as making money. Sam Altman, who’d led the round, assumed a new seat on Reddit’s board, which was now comprised of Ohanian, Sauerberg, Wong, and Keith Rabois, the former PayPal executive who’d joined Silicon Valley investment firm Khosla Ventures, but who had made only a small investment in Reddit. He was dubbed an “independent board member.” Altman had taken the helm at Y Combinator earlier in the year from Paul Graham. Graham, Livingston, and their two sons would decamp from Silicon Valley before long for the English countryside. If the press wasn’t yet over the celebrity photo leak scandal, investors seemed to be. “The press never affected us,” Wong recalled. “Investors never cared about whatever, they just wanted traffic.” Although the funding round looked like a move from a more traditional startup playbook, it included one rather bizarre element in its structure.
The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age by David E. Sanger
active measures, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, British Empire, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, computer age, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Jacob Appelbaum, John Markoff, Mark Zuckerberg, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mutually assured destruction, RAND corporation, ransomware, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, Valery Gerasimov, WikiLeaks, zero day
Shah and Christopher Kirchhoff, a veteran of the Obama White House and the office of the secretary of defense, were brought in as lead “partners”—the word indicating that the Pentagon was intent on blending in with the Silicon Valley natives. They were a good mix, but Shah knew from his own experience how hard it would be to get companies in Silicon Valley to participate in any effort sponsored by the Pentagon. First, there was the post-Snowden hangover. But there was also a very practical fear of getting wrapped up in the deadening, regulation-heavy Pentagon bureaucracy. “When I was getting a business start-up going, my investors wouldn’t let me even talk to the military,” he said. “They complained it took years to close a deal, and even longer to get paid. You’d go bankrupt just waiting for them to make a decision.” As with any new venture, Shah needed cool office space. But while the Pentagon was ready to be a player in Silicon Valley, it wasn’t ready to pay the sky-high rents.
But no one could quantify China’s involvement—there were no concrete numbers that gave a holistic sense of the Chinese investment strategy. So Shah and Kirchhoff found a savvy executive who understood Silicon Valley—Michael Brown, who had run Symantec, the company that identified so many of the details of Stuxnet—and asked him to write an unclassified report on it. They hoped this would wake Washington up to the new ways that the Chinese were scooping up Silicon Valley’s most critical technologies for both their state-owned companies and their own military. Brown quickly joined forces with Pavneet Singh, a former National Security Council and National Economic Council staffer who had prepared Obama for his meetings with President Xi. “The first thing I learned is that the Chinese have done a beautiful job mirroring Silicon Valley,” Brown told me. Baidu is the answer to Google. Alibaba is the Chinese Amazon.
* * * — The burden of solving the immediate problem—locking up Google’s systems and convincing customers around the world that their data were not being piped straight to Fort Meade—fell to Eric Grosse, the amiable head of Google’s security efforts. With pale eyes and gradually graying hair, Grosse looked more like a bespectacled suburban dad than one of Silicon Valley’s key players, but his Stanford computer science PhD and hobby of piloting his own high-winged plane, gave him Valley credibility. By the time my colleague Nicole Perlroth and I arrived at Grosse’s office on the edge of the Google campus in early summer 2014, he was deeply engaged in figuring out how to block every pathway the NSA could carve into the tech giant’s networks. In the open cubicles that looked out on the old air base, Moffett Field, in the heart of what is now Silicon Valley—the remnant of a pre–World War II age when the airplane was remaking global power—Grosse and his team of engineers were working day and night to NSA-proof the Google systems.
The Flat White Economy by Douglas McWilliams
"Robert Solow", access to a mobile phone, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bonus culture, Boris Johnson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, correlation coefficient, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, George Gilder, hiring and firing, income inequality, informal economy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, loadsamoney, low skilled workers, mass immigration, Metcalfe’s law, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, Peter Thiel, Productivity paradox, Robert Metcalfe, Silicon Valley, smart cities, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, working-age population, zero-sum game
And with the traditional banking system still inhibited by the aftermath of the financial crisis, which has held back its ability and willingness to lend, there is a niche that needs filling. Fintech – the business of financing technology – is still in its infancy in London. But it has shown substantial growth in the past decade, and particularly since 2008. London accounts for 8.9% of world technology finance – a long way short of the 30% contributed from Silicon Valley but nevertheless a figure which indicates an emerging growth. In the five years to 2013 London fintech growth was twice that of Silicon Valley. The UK and Ireland (which is, in practice, chiefly a London measure) accounts for more than 50% of European technology venture capital measured by number of deals – and 69% measured by funds invested. Deal volume in London has been growing at an annual rate of over 70% since 2008 and grew by 117% in the year to Q1 2014.
At the same time, there has been a huge rise in the number of people getting on their bikes – 176 per cent more since 2000.”17 But the significant danger of at least serious injury must be a discouragement to many potential cyclists. Clothing According to Business Insider, Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and one of Silicon Valley’s key venture capitalists, “hates suits”. While he cautions that there are “no absolute and timeless sartorial rules,” Thiel says that, “in Silicon Valley, wearing a suit in a pitch meeting makes you look like someone who is bad at sales and worse at tech.” Maybe that’s why he has a simple rule for investing: never bet on a CEO in a suit. Thiel says that this rule has helped him avoid making poor bets on slick business folk compensating for crap products with well-dressed charm.
According to Technology Review, “Amazon has moved a mobile development team to the area, Google has expanded quickly into new buildings and drug companies are piling in too.”4 Around Silicon Roundabout in London, rents shot up in 2013 to over £40 per square foot (£70 including services), but have fallen back slightly since as new space has been attracted on to the market. In Paris, Moscow and Beijing the drive to replicate Silicon Valley is strongly supported with government money. Yet economists argue about whether it is possible to promote technology top down. On the one hand, the original development of Silicon Valley had much to do with US government defence spending and the current development of the Israeli technology sector is again driven by military spending. In addition, in China, technology giant Huawei allegedly grew out of the communications arm of the People’s Liberation Army, while the Russian technology cluster also appears to have had historic links with military developments.
What's Yours Is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy by Tom Slee
4chan, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, citizen journalism, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, David Brooks, don't be evil, gig economy, Hacker Ethic, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South of Market, San Francisco, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ultimatum game, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, Zipcar
In its outer reaches it is an ambition manifested in ideas of Seasteading (a movement to build self-governing floating cities, started by PayPal founder Peter Thiel) and the Singularity (a belief in “the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity,” originating with the ideas of inventor and now Google employee Ray Kurzweil). Just as Hollywood is both a physical location and a global industry with a distinctive set of traditions, beliefs, and practices, so Silicon Valley is more than a place—it is shorthand for the world of digital technology, specifically Internet technology. Silicon Valley includes big companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, and it includes a never-ending stream of ambitious startups, not all physically located in Silicon Valley proper, but all driven by and products of the broader Internet culture. The Sharing Economy takes its inspiration from one particular tenet of that culture: a belief in the virtues of openness. Openness and sharing go hand in hand: to make something open is to stop it being a commodity, to take it out of the realm of private property and make it shareable among members of a community.
In many cultures self-promotional activity is not generally acceptable in the social world, seeming crass and selfish, but it is widely accepted in the commercial world in the form of branding and marketing activities. As Alice Marwick writes, ideas of personal branding and investment in self-promotion have taken off in a big way in Silicon Valley; part of the region’s belief in the value of entrepreneurship,11 so now Sharing Economy companies have coined a word for “people as companies.” Airbnb hosts, Lyft drivers, and TaskRabbit errand-runners are “micro-entrepreneurs”: the self as corporation, and one’s reputation as personal brand. If investment in “reputation as an asset” gains ground, then reputation may become a measure of how well we conform to the prejudices and expectations of Silicon Valley culture. RATINGS DO NOT DISCRIMINATE Start by looking at ratings on Netflix: the ratings of movies and TV shows by Netflix customers. There is every reason to believe that most Netflix ratings are independent and honest.
Three years on, Rosenberg was an advisor to Google management, and found himself in “a world that has outstripped even his wildest expectations.” 11 Drawing on stories from books like Wikinomics,12 on the Government of Canada’s Open Government Declaration, on the non-profit Khan Academy’s video lectures, on PatientsLikeMe in healthcare and Google’s mapping tools, as well as Google’s own success with Android smartphones and the Chrome browser, Rosenberg believes that openness needs to go even further: “We must aim beyond even an open internet. Institutions in general must continue to embrace this ethos.” Here is the ambition of Silicon Valley: to reshape the world in the Internet’s image. Open institutions, open government, open access. It’s the ambition that the Sharing Economy seeks to realize: to take the philosophy of openness and to reshape whole industries, and their relationship to government, but to keep something for themselves. Rosenberg’s ability to hold contradictory beliefs is symptomatic of Silicon Valley culture. He believes thoroughly in openness, congratulating himself and his industry on discovering a viewpoint that is “counter-intuitive to the traditionally trained MBA who is taught to generate a sustainable competitive advantage by creating a closed system, making it popular, then milking it through the product life cycle.”
Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to Get From Start-Up to IPO on Your Terms by Jeffrey Bussgang
business cycle, business process, carried interest, digital map, discounted cash flows, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, pets.com, risk tolerance, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, selection bias, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Wisdom of Crowds
The venture capital industry is also highly concentrated geographically. Silicon Valley is the epicenter of the VC world and of everyone who aspires to enter it. My hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, is a strong number two, in large part because Harvard and MIT serve as a training ground for great entrepreneurial and technical talent, and VCs follow the talent. The statistics suggest that the capital is concentrated. According to the NVCA, approximately $84 billion of the $200 billion of total VC capital under management resides in California. Thirty-six billion dollars is managed in Massachusetts and $18 billion in New York. Those three states alone represent 70 percent of all capital under VC management. Thus, imagine the fewer than one thousand senior VCs spending their time shuttling back and forth between Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York City, all tightly interconnected through their college and business school alumni networks, interlocking business and personal relationships, and all connected by no more than one degree of separation using social networking tools like Reid Hoffman’s LinkedIn, Jack Dorsey’s Twitter, or Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.
Decisions at larger firms can get delegated to more junior investment professionals and not as much cross-partnership scrutiny is given to each decision. Some entrepreneurs view geographical dispersion as a negative as compared to geographical focus. When VCs are not physically located close to you, they are less likely to be as helpful or in touch with the ups and downs of your start-up. That is why Silicon Valley-based VCs typically fund Silicon Valley-based firms and Boston-based VCs typically fund East Coast start-ups. There are plenty of exceptions (e.g., Jack Dorsey’s Twitter chose Fred Wilson, a New York City-based VC, to be his lead investor), but being close by for a quick chat about strategy, recruiting, product positioning, and financing is beneficial to a productive VC-entrepreneur relationship. Entrepreneurs can easily research whether firms make investments out of their office geographies or only make local investments by examining the geographic location of a firm’s portfolio companies.
Find a local management team, provide them with a brand and back-office support (accounting, fund management, and the like), and create a global network of venture capitalists that are tied together by economic and social bonds, share deals and analysis, yet make investment decisions and control the bulk of their own economics locally. Sitting down together over cocktails during an industry conference in New York City, I asked Tim—why the drive to expand globally? “I love entrepreneurs,” he explained. “I want to find them everywhere. I knew they wouldn’t all be in Silicon Valley. Microsoft was in Redmond, Washington; it didn’t come from the Silicon Valley or Route 128 outside of Boston. I thought, Where else are deals going to come from? It was a huge step to go international. People looked at me as if I were out of my mind. I partly am. But it worked out really well. I’ve been to sixty-five different countries and probably funded businesses in thirty of them. It was sort of a risk. But it’s made my life much more interesting.”
What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, back-to-the-land, beat the dealer, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, California gold rush, card file, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, different worldview, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Thorp, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, general-purpose programming language, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, hypertext link, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, Jeff Rulifson, John Markoff, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mahatma Gandhi, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Robert X Cringely, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Hackers Conference, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, union organizing, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight
Funded by the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, at the height of its most creative and unconstrained period, SAIL served as a home to many of the most inventive minds in the computing world. SAIL was as unconventional as it was innovative. Researchers lived in the attic above their offices, encounter groups met in the steam tunnels in the basement, and from that tumult emerged the technological insights that would help reshape both Silicon Valley and the entire world during the next decade. At dinner with Engelbart, I realized that, in spite of reading widely about the history of Silicon Valley and computing, I wasn’t familiar with the stories being told that evening. What struck me was that the tales weren’t about the technologies but rather about the lives of the researchers themselves, their personal relationships, the drugs they took, the sex they enjoyed, the rock and roll they listened to, and the political protest in which they took part.
The stage is set for a clash of values that echo the very forces that created Silicon Valley. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Let me first pay my respects to those who have gone before me. From 1981 to 1984, I worked with both Paul Freiberger and Mike Swaine at a start-up weekly newspaper, Infoworld, which had set out to become either the Rolling Stone or Sports Illustrated (it was never quite sure which) of the personal-computer industry. I watched the two of them struggle through the exercise of writing history while it was still being made as they researched Fire in the Valley. At about the same time, a New York–based Rolling Stone writer, Steven Levy, showed up at our Palo Alto offices and took me out for pizza at the Roundtable on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto. Steven had come to Silicon Valley to do research for what would become Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, an account that seventeen years later is still the definitive work on the culture of the modern computing world.
Also, I have to give special thanks to friends who were willing to listen to me chatter endlessly about what my reporting had dug up. Paul Saffo has been one of the sharpest thinkers in Silicon Valley for more than two decades, with a wonderful critical eye. Michael Schrage was once upon a time a competitor at The Washington Post but was one of the first people to give me encouragement. Kevin Kelly helped me explore the idea of what was special about a certain time and place. Gregg Zachary has taught journalism with me at the University of California at Berkeley, and at Stanford, and when he covered Silicon Valley for The Wall Street Journal during the 1990s he was the competitor I dreaded most. Steve Lohr preceded me on a New York Times–sanctioned book leave and filled me with fear, trepidation, and ultimately hope, as from a safe distance I watched him labor on his own book.
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters
Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Andy Kessler, Berlin Wall, cleantech, cloud computing, crony capitalism, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, don't be evil, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, life extension, lone genius, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, Nate Silver, Network effects, new economy, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, strong AI, Ted Kaczynski, Tesla Model S, uber lyft, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor
Founders should share a prehistory before they start a company together—otherwise they’re just rolling dice. OWNERSHIP, POSSESSION, AND CONTROL It’s not just founders who need to get along. Everyone in your company needs to work well together. A Silicon Valley libertarian might say you could solve this problem by restricting yourself to a sole proprietorship. Freud, Jung, and every other psychologist has a theory about how every individual mind is divided against itself, but in business at least, working for yourself guarantees alignment. Unfortunately, it also limits what kind of company you can build. It’s very hard to go from 0 to 1 without a team. A Silicon Valley anarchist might say you could achieve perfect alignment as long as you hire just the right people, who will flourish peacefully without any guiding structure. Serendipity and even free-form chaos at the workplace are supposed to help “disrupt” all the old rules made and obeyed by the rest of the world.
Pets should be welcome, too: perhaps employees’ dogs and cats could come and join the office’s tankful of tropical fish as unofficial company mascots. What’s wrong with this picture? It includes some of the absurd perks Silicon Valley has made famous, but none of the substance—and without substance perks don’t work. You can’t accomplish anything meaningful by hiring an interior decorator to beautify your office, a “human resources” consultant to fix your policies, or a branding specialist to hone your buzzwords. “Company culture” doesn’t exist apart from the company itself: no company has a culture; every company is a culture. A startup is a team of people on a mission, and a good culture is just what that looks like on the inside. BEYOND PROFESSIONALISM The first team that I built has become known in Silicon Valley as the “PayPal Mafia” because so many of my former colleagues have gone on to help each other start and invest in successful tech companies.
We underestimate the importance of distribution—a catchall term for everything it takes to sell a product—because we share the same bias the A Ship and C Ship people had: salespeople and other “middlemen” supposedly get in the way, and distribution should flow magically from the creation of a good product. The Field of Dreams conceit is especially popular in Silicon Valley, where engineers are biased toward building cool stuff rather than selling it. But customers will not come just because you build it. You have to make that happen, and it’s harder than it looks. NERDS VS. SALESMEN The U.S. advertising industry collects annual revenues of $150 billion and employs more than 600,000 people. At $450 billion annually, the U.S. sales industry is even bigger. When they hear that 3.2 million Americans work in sales, seasoned executives will suspect the number is low, but engineers may sigh in bewilderment. What could that many salespeople possibly be doing? In Silicon Valley, nerds are skeptical of advertising, marketing, and sales because they seem superficial and irrational.
Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs by Gina Keating
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, barriers to entry, business intelligence, collaborative consumption, corporate raider, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Netflix Prize, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, price stability, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Superbowl ad, telemarketer, X Prize
By mid-1999, the company’s head count had been pushed past one hundred, and—with McCord having trouble convincing programmers to drive over the hill to work in Scotts Valley—Netflix went looking for bigger digs closer to the heart of Silicon Valley. In a final capitulation, Randolph gave up his dream of working almost within walking distance of his home and moved the operation into a nondescript, low-slung building on University Avenue in Los Gatos, the southernmost town in Silicon Valley. The other members of the founding team saw Randolph being pushed aside with mixed feelings. They had poured their energy and creativity into Netflix at a fraction of their usual salaries for two years to bring their dream company to life, and they wanted to see it succeed. Founders often had to step aside to let corporate “grown-ups” raise their babies—that was just how Silicon Valley worked. And Randolph seemed to take it with equanimity, plunging ahead with plans for a full roster of consumer tests and battling unreserved by Has- tings, as he always had in staff meetings
He found the intense bursts of highly creative work suited him, especially when the companies were acquired or went public, and he and the other managers exited with healthy severance packages, chunks of valuable equity, and time off. It was a common dance in 1990s Silicon Valley, a verdant and sunny groove of flat land sandwiched between the southern reaches of the San Francisco Bay in the east and the Santa Cruz Mountains in the west. Start-ups bloomed for a year or so, watered by plentiful venture capital dollars, and were quickly swallowed up by private investors or large, rich companies fishing for the next big innovation in software, biomedical engineering, telecoms, or the ever-evolving Internet. It was the new gold rush, and venture capital investors would pour more than $70 billion into Silicon Valley start-ups before the decade was out. Things moved so quickly and money was so plentiful that most entrepreneurs had no chance, or any need, to turn a profit, or even run to their companies for long.
“Netflix Could Challenge Blockbuster in DVD Field.” Investors Business Daily, Dec. 20, 2001. ———. “Netflix Is Moving to Get Big Fast; Overnight Service Firm’s Aiming for Profit and a Million Subscribers in Second Quarter of ’03.” Investor’s Business Daily, July 2, 2002. Simon, Mark. “Widespread Success for TechNet: Silicon Valley Political Action Group Is a Big Hit.” San Francisco Chronicle, July 16, 1998. ———. “Political Action Chief Steps Down: Reed Hastings Will Stay Active in Silicon Valley Group.” San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 12, 1999. Sinton, Peter. “Start-ups Fetch Record Financing.” San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 11, 1999. Spector, Mike. “Icahn Takes Blockbuster Debt Holding.” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 17, 2010. Sporich, Brett. “Vid Firm Quick to Market Clinton Tape.” Daily Variety, Sept. 22, 1998.
The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick
Andy Kessler, Burning Man, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, Howard Rheingold, Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Network effects, Peter Thiel, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, social graph, social software, social web, Startup school, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Whole Earth Review, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator
Anything like that would be phenomenal for a year-old company led by a twenty-year-old with seven employees and annualized revenues of less than $1 million. But Parker was wrong. He got more. As soon as word got out that Thefacebook was contemplating an investment, the Silicon Valley greed machine kicked into high gear. Inquiries started pouring in. Cell phones at Thefacebook rang incessantly. Ron Conway, one of the most connected men in Silicon Valley and a veteran angel investor, was giving Parker advice about who to talk to and what to say. He was also making email introductions to established Silicon Valley companies and key venture capital firms. (Zuckerberg now says he didn’t know about most of this activity at the time.) Investor interest was further heightened when the Los Angeles Times wrote a front-page story about Thefacebook on January 23, the first big story ever about the company in a major media publication.
The investors didn’t much appreciate Parker’s rock-and-roll lifestyle, either. He would work weeks on end to accomplish some company objective, sleeping in the office, then not come in at all for days. Finally they booted him out. In the end they even hired a private investigator to document his alleged misbehavior. Parker was among the growing number of Silicon Valley executives who were becoming convinced that social networking would become a very big business. In the fall of 2003, Silicon Valley venture investors had put a total of $36 million into four high-profile social networking start-ups—Friendster, LinkedIn, Spoke, and Tribe. In late March, not long after Thefacebook took over the Stanford campus in mere days, Parker sent Zuckerberg an email out of the blue. He played up his Napster bona fides and offered to introduce Zuckerberg to savvy San Francisco investors who understood social networking.
Thefacebook made explicit efforts to be a cool place to work, almost to the point of caricature. Appearance mattered. When Jeff Rothschild started at Thefacebook he dressed like a typical middle-aged, nerdy Silicon Valley engineer—clunky running shoes and a shirt tucked into khaki pants or loose jeans. About a month later a friend ran into him at the airport. He was wearing designer jeans with his shirttail untucked in the hipster manner. “Jeff, what happened?” his friend asked. “They said I was making them look bad,” Rothschild replied. “They weren’t going to let me back into the office.” The other employees started calling Rothschild “J-Ro.” “Part of our company mission was to be the coolest company in Silicon Valley,” says Parker. “I played up the idea that this should be a fun, rock-’n’-roll place to work.” That’s why he hired graffiti artist David Choe to paint the office and had his girlfriend add a little special something in the ladies’ room.
All the Money in the World by Peter W. Bernstein
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, currency peg, David Brooks, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial innovation, George Gilder, high net worth, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, Norman Mailer, PageRank, Peter Singer: altruism, pez dispenser, popular electronics, Renaissance Technologies, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, school vouchers, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, the new new thing, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, traveling salesman, urban planning, wealth creators, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce
The Valley’s relatively contained geography: AnnaLee Saxenian, Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 29. 21. “From the outset”: Ibid. Much of the information on the history of Silicon Valley comes from Saxenian’s book. 22. They had become friends: Kaplan, The Silicon Boys, p. 34. 23. Later he encouraged the duo: Saxenian, Regional Advantage, p. 20. 24. Hewlett and Packard are the iconic models: The information on Hewlett and Packard’s early days in Silicon Valley comes mainly from John Markoff, “William Hewlett Dies at 87: A Pioneer of Silicon Valley,” obituary, New York Times, Jan. 13, 2001. 25. In a 1983 Esquire article: Tom Wolfe, “The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce: How the Sun Rose on the Silicon Valley,” Esquire, Dec. 1983. 26. At Fairchild, Noyce designed: Kaplan, The Silicon Boys, p. 56. 27.
In 2004, a year after Google went public, Brin and Page joined the list, each with a fortune of $4 billion that has since ballooned to $14.1 billion and $14 billion, respectively. * * * At Home in Woodside Once they make their fortunes, many of the most successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs head to the historic Silicon Valley town of Woodside. A community of about five thousand people, Woodside is a place of bucolic, two-lane country roads lined with old-fashioned, horseshoe-shaped mailboxes. Looking around, it is difficult to imagine that this town is, in fact, one of the wealthiest in the nation. Although the primary residences of Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs are in nearby Silicon Valley communities, both of which are not more than a twenty-minute drive away, they also maintain estates in Woodside, a town where a billionaire can buy some privacy. Many houses are partly hidden from view, screened by long driveways, stands of redwoods, and dense foliage.
Microsoft’s successful deal with IBM made it possible for Gates to import talented engineers from around the world, such as his top software architect Charles Simonyi, who relocated from Silicon Valley to Microsoft’s relatively isolated corporate campus in Redmond. Microsoft’s headquarters was a place where employees were not liable to be lured away by job offers from rival software company executives at the local coffee shop, as they could be in Silicon Valley. “Even back in the late seventies,”19 says Charles Simonyi, “Bill anticipated what would happen. In Seattle, there would be stability in the workforce.” In contrast to the one-industry town of Redmond, the story of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley is much more dynamic and colorful. Every few years at least four or five new members from the Bay Area make the Forbes 400 list, while another four or five fall off.
Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty by Vikram Chandra
Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Apple II, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business process, conceptual framework, create, read, update, delete, crowdsourcing, don't repeat yourself, Donald Knuth, East Village, European colonialism, finite state, Firefox, Flash crash, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, haute couture, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, land reform, London Whale, Norman Mailer, Paul Graham, pink-collar, revision control, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supercomputer in your pocket, theory of mind, Therac-25, Turing machine, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce
CBS Money Watch, July 13, 2012. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57471697/jpmorgan-chase-earnings-london-whale-cost-$5.8-billion/. Scott, Alec. “Lessons from Canada’s Silicon Valley Diaspora.” The Globe and Mail, February 23, 2012. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/lessons-from-canadas-silicon-valley-diaspora/article535544/?service=print. Shulman, David. “The Buzz of God and the Click of Delight.” In Aesthetics in Performance: Formations of Symbolic Construction and Experience, edited by Angela Hobart and Bruce Kapferer, 43–63. New York: Berghahn Books, 2005. Silver, Nate. “In Silicon Valley, Technology Talent Gap Threatens G.O.P. Campaigns.” New York Times, November 28, 2012. “Similarities between Sanskrit and Programming Languages.” uttiSTha bhArata. Accessed August 16, 2013. http://uttishthabharata.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/sanskrit-programming/.
“Exposure, Training, and Environment: Women’s Participation in Computing Education in the United States and India.” Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 15, no. 3 (2009): 205–22. Wadhwa, Vivek. “The Face of Success, Part I: How the Indians Conquered Silicon Valley.” Inc.com, January 13, 2012. http://www.inc.com/vivek-wadhwa/how-the-indians-succeeded-in-silicon-valley.html. Wallis, Christopher. “The Descent of Power: Possession, Mysticism, and Initiation in the Śaiva Theology of Abhinavagupta.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 36, no. 2 (2008): 247–95. Warner, Melanie. “The Indians of Silicon Valley.” Money.cnn.com, May 15, 2000. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2000/05/15/279748/. West, James L. III, ed. Conversations with William Styron. Limited ed. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985.
This famous “brain drain,” which once so irritated some IIT faculty that they refused to write recommendation letters to American universities for their students, has been reimagined as “brain circulation” with attendant flows of remittances and expertise back to the home country. As Indian geeks have gained prominence and power abroad—especially in Silicon Valley—they have been instrumental in driving and facilitating investments by international companies in India. In the American computer industry, the presence of Indians is impossible to miss—by 2005, Indians had created 26 percent of all immigrant-founded tech start-ups in the US. By 2012, this percentage had increased to 33.2 percent, more than the next eight ethnic groups combined (immigrants from China, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Israel, Russia, Korea, and Australia).57 In a 2013 interview, the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, said, “Forty percent of the startups in Silicon Valley are headed by India-based entrepreneurs.”58 And, according to Vinod Khosla, IIT graduate and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, “Microsoft, Intel, PCs, Sun Microsystems—you name it, I can’t imagine a major area where Indian IIT engineers haven’t played a leading role.”59 The ubiquity of the Indian geek has been recognized even by popular American media in the figure of Raj Koothrappali, a character on the television show The Big Bang Theory.
Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America by David Callahan
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, American Legislative Exchange Council, automated trading system, Bernie Sanders, Bonfire of the Vanities, carbon footprint, carried interest, clean water, corporate social responsibility, David Brooks, demographic transition, desegregation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Thorp, financial deregulation, financial independence, global village, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, high net worth, income inequality, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, medical malpractice, mega-rich, Mitch Kapor, Naomi Klein, NetJets, new economy, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Florida, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, short selling, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, unpaid internship, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, working poor, World Values Survey
Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 13. 13. Madeleine Schwartz, “Welcome to the Reel World,” Harvard Crimson, February 5, 2009. 14. David Postman, “RealNetworks CEO Donates Big Bucks to Politics,” Seattle Times, July 26, 2004. 15. “Green Economy Offers New Opportunities for Growth in Silicon Valley,” 2009 Silicon Valley Index, February 17, 2009, www .jointventure.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74: the-2009-silicon-valley-index&catid=39:silicon-valley-index&Itemid=52. 16. Lori Olszewski, “Some Prop. 39 Backers Have Deep Pockets,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 23, 2000. bnotes.indd 302 5/11/10 6:29:36 AM notes to pages 190–221 303 17. Paul Festa, “High-Tech Advocates Clash over School Vouchers, Skilled Labor,” CNET News, September 22, 2000, http://news .cnet.com/High-tech-advocates-clash-over-school-vouchers,-skilledlabor/2100-1023_3-246068.html. 18.
Wealthy technologists have only tentatively embraced progressive politics, c08.indd 179 5/11/10 6:24:52 AM 180 fortunes of change and their pet causes—and pet peeves—are only starting to come into focus. The vast wealth of Silicon Valley—as well as in the Seattle area— has become such a fixture in America’s collective conscious that it is easy to forget how new these fortunes are. Although Silicon Valley has long been a high-tech center, going back to World War II and earlier, it wasn’t until Apple Computer’s successful initial public offering (IPO) in 1980 that the valley became synonymous with great wealth. By the late 1980s, the tech industry had still produced only a handful of world-class fortunes, and it wasn’t until the Internet boom of the 1990s that the technology rich had emerged as one of the central pillars of the far upper class. By the early 2000s, Silicon Valley was home to many more millionaires than Manhattan was. The popular image of rich geeks is that they lean libertarian— that is, when they think about politics at all.
Both Brin and Page own Priuses, and hybrid vehicles are everywhere in Silicon Valley. In fact, the region now boasts 15 percent of all newly registered hybrid cars in California and 10 percent of all electric cars.15 It is no surprise that climate change has so galvanized the tech crowd. Scientists like hard problems, and few get tougher than this. Reducing greenhouse gases is a vast and complex challenge, and meeting it will require major new technological breakthroughs in clean energy. For many in Silicon Valley, climate change has become not only an activist cause, but also a major focus of investment, with venture capitalists such as John Doerr deciding that green technology is the next big thing. If a “green-industrial complex” emerges in coming years, expect to find Silicon Valley near its center. Education is another cause that excites the valley’s wealthy, and many have pushed for putting more money into public schools.
Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life by Richard Florida
active measures, assortative mating, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, borderless world, BRICs, business climate, Celebration, Florida, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, dark matter, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, edge city, Edward Glaeser, epigenetics, extreme commuting, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, income inequality, industrial cluster, invention of the telegraph, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, megacity, new economy, New Urbanism, Peter Calthorpe, place-making, post-work, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, superstar cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, urban planning, World Values Survey, young professional
In a detailed study of the biotech industry published in 2001, Joseph Cortright and Heike Mayer found that three-quarters of all biotech firms founded in the 1990s were located in just nine regions. 12 Compared with others, those nine regions boasted eight times as much biotech research, ten times as many biotech companies, and thirty times more biotech venture capital. Venture capital is another useful indicator of how high-tech industries cluster, and it’s one reason for the success of Silicon Valley. “There’s a unique set of resources in Silicon Valley that don’t exist in other places,” VideoEgg founder, Matt Sanchez, told the Wall Street Journal. “So if you’re going to build a tech company, this is the place to do it.”13 It’s not just high-tech industries that cluster. Many other industries also benefit from being located near one another. To start, let’s look at the trends in the two main sectors of the economy: the service sector and the creative sector.
It “puts people in the flow of the many different thoughts and actions that reside in any one world,” writes Andrew Hargadon, director of technology management programs at the University of California-Davis.18 At its heart, bridging “changes the way people look at not just those different ideas they find in other worlds, it also changes the way they look at thoughts and actions that dominate their own. Bridging activities provide the conditions for creativity, for the Eureka moment when new possibilities suddenly become apparent.” In her study of the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on Route 128 outside Boston, Berkeley’s AnnaLee Saxenian found that the resilience and superior performance of Silicon Valley companies during the 1990s turned on the adaptive capabilities of the region’s decentralized but cooperative networks of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, technologists, and newly minted university talent.19 No matter what form it takes, networking reflects what Stanford University sociologist Mark Granovetter calls “the strength of weak ties,” a remarkable phrase that captures the essence of what’s going on.20 In a widely influential study that examined how people find jobs, Granovetter concluded that it is our numerous weak ties, rather than our fewer strong ones, that really matter.
Escalating real estate prices can inhibit innovation. Many forms of innovative and creative activity—whether high-tech businesses, art galleries, or musical groups—require the same thing: cheap space. That’s what Jane Jacobs was getting at when she famously wrote, “New ideas require old buildings.” These spaces, formerly abundant in places like Silicon Valley and downtown New York City, are where everyone from Steve Jobs to Bob Dylan got their start. Cheap space in these towns is now hard to come by. Several Silicon Valley garages that witnessed high-tech start-ups in the 1990s have been turned into museums. When housing prices rise and buildings are converted into expensive condos or high-end retail shops, venues for fostering creativity disappear. Extreme real estate prices also hinder the ability of places to attract and amass new talent.
Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, assortative mating, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, call centre, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, commoditize, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, don't be evil, double helix, energy security, estate planning, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Gini coefficient, global village, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, high net worth, income inequality, invention of the steam engine, job automation, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, liberation theology, light touch regulation, linear programming, London Whale, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, NetJets, new economy, Occupy movement, open economy, Peter Thiel, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Solar eclipse in 1919, sovereign wealth fund, starchitect, stem cell, Steve Jobs, the new new thing, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, Washington Consensus, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game
“I think it has a lot to do with the way Silicon Valley was formed and the university culture. The egalitarian culture. The liberal culture there. People are often surprised by that. . . . And I always try to explain to people that people actually came to Google not to get wealthy, but to change the world. And I genuinely believe that.” Another way to believe our plutocrats are heroes battling for the collective good is to think of capitalism as a liberation theology—free markets equal free people, as the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal asserts. One of the most convincing settings for this vision is Moscow, where in October 2010 you could hear it ringingly delivered by Pitch Johnson, one of the founders of the venture capital business in Silicon Valley, in a public lecture to business school students about capitalism and innovation.
His first step was the classic developing market technique of copying what was working elsewhere: he bought and invested in Mail.ru, the Russian equivalent of Hotmail, and Odnoklassniki, Russia’s Facebook. The Cyrillic alphabet, which had sometimes been a barrier to Russia’s success in the global economy, turned out to be a boon for Milner, making it harder for Silicon Valley to conquer his domestic market. But winning in the Russian technology market wasn’t enough for Milner. He decided that his failure in Russia had taught him to be faster and hungrier than the Americans he had met at Wharton. Now that he understood how to respond to revolution, he would take that talent to the place where the biggest transformation in the world was happening: Silicon Valley. Milner was the first major outside investor in Facebook, a coup he pulled off in May 2009 by agreeing to terms that seemed ridiculous to the Valley: $200 million for a 1.96 percent stake, valuing the five-year-old company at more than $1 billion, and with no board seats.
Google, they believed, was the ship, and the social networking revolution was the wave: Google would either learn to ride it—or drown. Even for Google, a company whose insurgent founders are still in their thirties, responding to revolution is hard. One reason Google may have a chance is that the business leaders of Silicon Valley, like those in the emerging markets, made their first fortunes by responding to revolution. For them, constant change is the status quo. Indeed, responding to revolution is so central to Silicon Valley culture that the most successful entrepreneurs have developed a culture of continuous revolution. Caroline O’Connor and Perry Klebahn, at Stanford’s design school, call this the ability to “pivot.” Groupon, which began as a platform for collective political action; PayPal, which started as a way of “beaming” money between mobile phones, and then pivoted to become eBay’s banking network; and Twitter, which was a later iteration of a failed podcasting start-up, are all, according to O’Connor and Klebahn, examples of successful pivots.
WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us by Tim O'Reilly
4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, Brewster Kahle, British Empire, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer vision, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, deskilling, DevOps, Donald Davies, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, glass ceiling, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, gravity well, greed is good, Guido van Rossum, High speed trading, hiring and firing, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyperloop, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Lao Tzu, Larry Wall, Lean Startup, Leonard Kleinrock, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, microbiome, microservices, minimum viable product, mortgage tax deduction, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Oculus Rift, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Buchheit, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Sam Altman, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, social web, software as a service, software patent, spectrum auction, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, The Future of Employment, the map is not the territory, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, universal basic income, US Airways Flight 1549, VA Linux, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, yellow journalism, zero-sum game, Zipcar
Is the enthusiasm of its investors a sign of a fundamental restructuring of the nature of work, or a sign of an investment mania like the one leading up to the dot-com bust in 2001? How do we tell the difference? Startups with a valuation of more than a billion dollars understandably get a lot of attention, even more so now that they have a name, unicorn, the term du jour in Silicon Valley. Fortune magazine started keeping a list of companies with that exalted status. Silicon Valley news site TechCrunch has a constantly updated “Unicorn Leaderboard.” But even when these companies succeed, they may not be the surest guide to the future. At O’Reilly Media, we learned to tune in to very different signals by watching the innovators who first brought us the Internet and the open source software that made it possible. They did what they did out of love and curiosity, not a desire to make a fortune.
The experiment was so successful that they decided to build out a short-term room, apartment, and home rental service for the upcoming SXSW technology conference in Austin, Texas, because they knew that every hotel room in the city would be sold out. They followed that up by doing the same thing for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, held in Denver, Colorado. In 2009, they were accepted into Y Combinator, the prestigious Silicon Valley startup incubator, and then received funding from one of Silicon Valley’s top venture firms, Sequoia Capital. But despite a promising start, they were still struggling with acquiring users fast enough. The breakthrough came when they realized that hosts were taking lousy photographs of their properties, leading to lower trust and thus lower interest by possible renters. So in the spring of 2009, Brian and Joe rented a high-end digital camera, went to New York, Airbnb’s top city at the time, and took as many professional photos as they could.
The regulators believe that the best way to achieve these objectives is to limit the number of drivers, and to certify those drivers in advance by issuing special business licenses. Uber and Lyft believe that their computer-mediated marketplace achieves the same goals more effectively. Surely it should be possible to evaluate the success or failure of these alternative approaches using data. As discussed in Chapter 7, there is a profound cultural and experiential divide here between Silicon Valley companies and government that is part of the problem. In Silicon Valley, every new app or service starts out as an experiment. From the very first day a company is funded by venture capitalists, or launches without funding, its success is dependent on achieving key metrics such as user adoption, usage, or engagement. Because the service is online, this feedback comes in near-real time. In the language of Eric Ries’s popular Lean Startup methodology, the first version is referred to as “minimum viable product (MVP),” defined as “that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World by Christopher Steiner
23andMe, Ada Lovelace, airport security, Al Roth, algorithmic trading, backtesting, big-box store, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delta neutral, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, dumpster diving, Flash crash, G4S, Gödel, Escher, Bach, High speed trading, Howard Rheingold, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, late fees, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, medical residency, money market fund, Myron Scholes, Narrative Science, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Mercer, Sergey Aleynikov, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator
A TALE OF TWO COASTS Jeffrey Hammerbacher is one of the linchpins in the tale of quant talent drifting away from the steady riches of Wall Street for the unpredictable and meritocratic zone of Silicon Valley. He’s a symbol of all that’s different between the two worlds. One side uses bots and algorithms to chop up subprime mortgages and peddle them to unsuspecting German banks that end up eating the debt for pennies on the dollar—sorry about that!—and to trade stocks at fast speeds that do in fact benefit the public in lower transaction costs, but also cost them in the way of higher volatilities and the possibility of epic chaos. The other side, Silicon Valley, uses similar brains and technology to create a game that may keep you entertained for fifteen minutes a day. The best products from the Silicon Valley help you keep in touch with relatives, trace your family’s origins, teach your daughter calculus, or smooth your relationship with your health insurer.
Hammerbacher wants his platform to be as applicable for a cancer researcher as it is for a game company determining how to serve users with just the right amount of “buy” buttons. The Valley thinks he’s on to something; Hammerbacher and the rest of the Cloudera founders have raised $76 million in venture capital, an outsized number for a software company so young. Hammerbacher is one of a troupe that has shifted from lower Manhattan to Silicon Valley to help inject Wall Street–style data mashing into our everyday lives. Investment banks and trading houses learned to build their data mines into ramparts that can ward off competition, and now these kinds of defenses are being erected in Silicon Valley. “Facebook has more information about your clickstream than it does of photos of your friends,” says Glenn Kelman, Redfin’s CEO. “Web sites that have built scale are learning to dominate all others because they’re the ones with the data to optimize.” Zynga, which makes the ubiquitous FarmVille game, was founded in 2007 by Mark Pincus.
The Medallion Fund employs algorithms trading millions of shares of, as founder Jim Simons puts it, “anything that moves.” At its historical pace the Medallion Fund would turn $100,000 into more than $20 million in just twenty years. When exceedingly smart, calculating people begin turning down Renaissance riches for undetermined outcomes in Silicon Valley, the pendulum has officially swung 100 percent away from Wall Street. “It used to be if you went to Harvard or Yale, you wanted to be a finance titan,” Kelman says. “But now everybody wants to be a Zuckerberg.” THE DAMAGE WROUGHT BY WALL STREET Where would our economy be without Silicon Valley and its software bots? As bad as the economy looked in 2008–2011, it would be far worse without the string of innovation that the Valley has continually dished out. We could likely even be better off had Wall Street not been sucking up so much of our country’s technical talent—and the algorithms they built—for so long.
Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest
23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Ben Horowitz, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Chris Wanstrath, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, lifelogging, loose coupling, loss aversion, low earth orbit, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
Meanwhile, other traditional industries, including real estate and automotive, are already succumbing to this new zeitgeist. The automobile industry in particular has had its cage rattled by the emergence of the all-electric Tesla. While the Tesla is a high-performance luxury car, it’s much more than just that. In fact, in Silicon Valley, it is common to describe it is as a computer that happens to move—and move very well. Who would ever have predicted that in just three years a Silicon Valley team of (mostly) electrical engineers would have created the safest car ever built? For one thing, they weren’t dragging 120 years of Iron-Age automotive history behind them like an anchor, as Chevrolet was when it designed the Volt, a plug-in that relies on a traditional gas engine to power a generator that charges the battery.
We believe, however, that it’s better to start with a passion to solve a particular problem, rather than to start with an idea or a technology. There are two reasons for this. First, by focusing on the problem space, you are not tied to one particular idea or solution, and thus don’t end up shoehorning a technology into a problem space where it might not be a good fit. Silicon Valley is littered with the carcasses of companies with great technologies searching for a problem to solve. Second, there is no shortage of either ideas or new technologies. After all, everybody in a place like Silicon Valley has an idea for a new tech business. Instead, the key to success is relentless execution, hence the need for passion and the MTP. To demonstrate, consider the number of times the founders of the following companies pitched investors before finally succeeding: Company Number of Investor Pitches Skype 40 Cisco 76 Pandora 300 Google 350 What if Larry Page and Sergey Brin had stopped pitching after 340 attempts?
Yotopoulos and Yates start by leveraging the corporation’s crowd in an incentive competition to see which internal entrepreneurs propose the most compelling business opportunities. The winning teams get all-expense-paid trips to mach49’s Silicon Valley facility. There, they are paired with non-competitive teams from other industries. All the groups are then immersed in Lean startup-style entrepreneurship and design thinking. The goal is to validate business opportunities through prototypes and in-market tests. After working alongside the mach49 team and network, these small, multi-disciplinary teams of corporate intrapreneurs leave with defined, validated opportunities and a clear execution plan. They can then stay on in Silicon Valley to accelerate, be spun back into (or out of) the mother ship, or serve as pilots to pave the way to larger acquisitions or partnerships. While it’s early days yet, we think the model holds extraordinary promise.
The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World by Steve Levine
• • • Kumar arrived on the cusp of a powerful surge of Asian immigrants into Silicon Valley and throughout the American technology industry. Asians already held a third of the technology jobs in the Valley and were half of the software developers.1 More than a quarter of American doctoral degree recipients as a whole were foreign born and half of those from Asia.2 In engineering and computer science, about 40 percent of the Ph.D.s were born abroad.3 These demographics created racial tension. A black leader in Silicon Valley said the Asian employment bulge was not incidental—technology companies, she said, “do not want to employ Americans. They import labor from overseas, pushing for H-1B visas,” residency permits allotted annually to specially skilled foreigners. It was true that there were relatively few blacks in Silicon Valley technology. But there was no evidence that any particular racial group was favored or excluded.
In the view of both Chamberlain and Amine, the powerful combination of the two could win the long game against the Asian giants. Both men were also contemplating the personal payoffs to come. Chamberlain was already superlatively ambitious, but the Hub offered another dimension of opportunity. A battery guy in the Bay Area had remarked that if he managed to oversee the big leap in batteries, he would be made in Silicon Valley—everyone would know his name. That notion—that he might “stand out in Silicon Valley”—fixed Chamberlain’s attention. He had failed to do so when he was raising money for his start-ups, but his Bay Area friend might be correct that the Hub could finally attest that he had done it before. 23 Team Argonne Scientists had been working for two centuries on the battery. It was a hard problem. If you did not believe success possible—if you would not sit down with your colleagues and work it out in the open—a super-battery would never happen.
Musk’s bet was that a pure engineering play—a sizzling concentration of high-tech luxury on wheels—could win the market before anyone created a super battery, perhaps long before. It was a brave, clever, and altogether unpredictable maneuver. Musk, a doyen of Silicon Valley with a bachelor’s degree in physics, was thumbing his nose at scientists: his senior team seemed old school, with a former Toyota executive in charge of manufacturing and a Mazda man as chief designer; only JB Straubel, his chief technical officer, was a standard product of Silicon Valley, with a master’s degree from Stanford and a string of technology jobs. And though they invented no new battery materials, their cars were unlike anyone else’s. They were propelled by “18650s,” cylindrical nickel-cobalt-aluminum batteries with the same general appearance as AAs made for cameras, only larger.
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, affirmative action, Airbnb, borderless world, cloud computing, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Google Earth, Google Glasses, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Mitch Kapor, Naomi Klein, new economy, PageRank, performance metric, phenotype, profit motive, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, Tim Cook: Apple, union organizing, women in the workforce, yellow journalism
The partnership was part of Google’s effort to spend $150 million on diversity programs that could create a pipeline of talent into Silicon Valley and the tech industries. But just two years before, searching on “black girls” surfaced “Black Booty on the Beach” and “Sugary Black Pussy” to the first page of Google results, out of the trillions of web-indexed pages that Google Search crawls. In part, the intervention of teaching computer code to African American girls through projects such as Black Girls Code is designed to ensure fuller participation in the design of software and to remedy persistent exclusion. The logic of new pipeline investments in youth was touted as an opportunity to foster an empowered vision for Black women’s participation in Silicon Valley industries. Discourses of creativity, cultural context, and freedom are fundamental narratives that drive the coding gap, or the new coding divide, of the twenty-first century.
Filling the pipeline and holding “future” Black women programmers responsible for solving the problems of racist exclusion and misrepresentation in Silicon Valley or in biased product development is not the answer. Commercial search prioritizes results predicated on a variety of factors that are anything but objective or value-free. Indeed, there are infinite possibilities for other ways of designing access to knowledge and information, but the lack of attention to the kind of White and Asian male dominance that Guynn reported sidesteps those who are responsible for these companies’ current technology designers and their troublesome products. Few voices of African American women innovators and tech-company leaders in Silicon Valley have emerged to reframe the “diversity problems” that keep African American women at bay. One essay that grabbed the attention of many people, written for Recode by Heather Hiles, the former CEO of an educational technology e-portfolio company, Pathbrite, spoke directly to the limits for Black women in Silicon Valley: I’m writing this post from the Austin airport, headed home to Oakland from SXSW.
One essay that grabbed the attention of many people, written for Recode by Heather Hiles, the former CEO of an educational technology e-portfolio company, Pathbrite, spoke directly to the limits for Black women in Silicon Valley: I’m writing this post from the Austin airport, headed home to Oakland from SXSW. Before pulling out my laptop to compose this, I read a post on Medium that named me as one of three black women known to have raised millions in venture capital. The article began with the startling fact that less than .1 percent of venture capital in the United States is invested in black women founders. I’m not sure what sub-percentage of these are women in tech, but it doesn’t really matter when the overall numbers are so abysmal. The problem isn’t a lack of compelling women of color to invest in; it’s a system in Silicon Valley that isn’t set up to develop, encourage and create pathways for blacks, Latinos or women.
Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets by John McMillan
"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, Anton Chekhov, Asian financial crisis, congestion charging, corporate governance, corporate raider, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, Deng Xiaoping, experimental economics, experimental subject, fear of failure, first-price auction, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, George Gilder, global village, Hernando de Soto, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job-hopping, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, land reform, lone genius, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market friction, market microstructure, means of production, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, ought to be enough for anybody, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, proxy bid, purchasing power parity, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Stewart Brand, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, yield management
Getting the balancing act right is difficult, but through a fortuitous confluence of circumstances, Silicon Valley did it by evolving a novel structure for the labor market for computer engineers. Why Silicon Valley? What made it such a fertile marketplace of ideas? Most industry experts in the 1970s would have predicted that the center of the computer industry would not be Silicon Valley but Route 128 near Boston, Massachusetts. Route 128 was already home to a thriving computer industry. Its firms were the most dynamic in the world. Close to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it could tap many of the best brains in computer science. But it faded from the scene as Silicon Valley charged ahead. What was the difference? Silicon Valley’s success traces back to a variety of factors. The proximity to and help from Stanford University’s engineering school got Silicon Valley started, and Stanford continued to supply it with a flow of highly trained engineers and managers.
The lifestyle in California attracted educated young people to stay or move there. The propensity of the leading Silicon Valley firms to subcontract most manufacturing tasks made for flexibility. The ready availability of venture capital made it easy to start new firms, though this is as much a symptom of Silicon Valley’s success as a cause of it. Luck also undoubtedly played a role. The main reason for Silicon Valley’s success, argued Annalee Saxenian in Regional Advantage, her influential book on what makes Silicon Valley tick, is its culture of mobility and sharing. The labor market for engineers operated differently in Silicon Valley than in Route 128. Unencumbered by tradition, Silicon Valley developed a culture of open relationships between employees of competing firms. Ideas were freely exchanged.
Loyalty to the company and long-term employment were valued. Ideas were tightly held within firms. The job-hopping in Silicon Valley is frenetic. Engineers average a short eleven months in any one job (compared with the three years’ job tenure of the average American). “The mobility among people strikes me as radically different from the world I came from out East,” remarked a Silicon Valley manager. “There is far more mobility and far less real risk in people’s careers.” The job mobility has two consequences, one direct and one indirect. Engineers moving to new jobs take with them what they learned in their old jobs. New ideas are in this way spread through the industry. “Here in Silicon Valley there’s far greater loyalty to one’s craft than to one’s company,” said a manager. “If you are a circuit designer, it’s important for you to do excellent work.
Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed With Early Achievement by Rich Karlgaard
Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bernie Madoff, Bob Noyce, Brownian motion, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental economics, fear of failure, financial independence, follow your passion, Frederick Winslow Taylor, hiring and firing, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Sand Hill Road, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, Toyota Production System, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, working poor
I was a technical writer at a Palo Alto research institute and copywriting for a Silicon Valley ad agency. I was married, and I owned a condo, a new Volkswagen Jetta, a Macintosh computer, and a laser printer. Not bad. I was on my way. My friend Tony thirsted for far more. He was much more ambitious than me, openly so. He worked as a loan officer at Silicon Valley Bank and was frustrated with his slow career progress. He wanted to be a bank vice president, then a successful venture capitalist or rich entrepreneur. He wanted fame and power, and he was in a hurry. He confided many times that he wanted to be a Silicon Valley player. One day Tony, looking at the newsletters I was producing on my Mac for various Silicon Valley clients, asked if it was possible to design a magazine on a Mac, using a page layout program like Quark Xpress, a few type fonts from Adobe, and a laser printer.
One day Tony, looking at the newsletters I was producing on my Mac for various Silicon Valley clients, asked if it was possible to design a magazine on a Mac, using a page layout program like Quark Xpress, a few type fonts from Adobe, and a laser printer. Yes, I said. Possible. “Let’s do a Silicon Valley business magazine,” Tony said. “People will have to pay attention to us.” He was serious. He had me design some layouts, and he took them to his boyhood friend, a young venture capitalist named Tim Draper. Tony raised $60,000 from Tim, enough to quit his Silicon Valley Bank job, and a year later we launched Silicon Valley’s first business magazine, Upside. Tony was the businessman who raised money and sold ads, and I was the editor and designer. Our first priority was to decide what Upside should be. My hunch was that business magazines needed a jolt. They needed to be more exciting, to capture the risk, the guts, the extremely competitive nature of startups, venture capital, investment banks, going public, the whole frenzied fight for glory and riches.
* * * Plenty of industries try to replace older workers with younger ones, but technology companies are particularly distrustful of long résumés. In Silicon Valley’s most successful companies, the median employee is likely to be thirty-two or younger. And these aren’t a handful of unicorn startups. They are corporate—and cultural—giants like Apple, Google, Tesla, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These companies reflect a dark ethos that has been circulating around the valley for years. In 2011 billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla told an audience that “people over forty-five basically die in terms of new ideas.” Journalist Noam Scheiber has channeled the ageism of Silicon Valley through the story of Dr. Seth Matarasso, a San Francisco–based plastic surgeon: When Matarasso first opened shop in San Francisco, he found that he was mostly helping patients in late middle age: former homecoming queens, spouses who’d been cheated on, spouses looking to cheat.
Data-Ism: The Revolution Transforming Decision Making, Consumer Behavior, and Almost Everything Else by Steve Lohr
"Robert Solow", 23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bioinformatics, business cycle, business intelligence, call centre, cloud computing, computer age, conceptual framework, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, David Brooks, East Village, Edward Snowden, Emanuel Derman, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Glasses, impulse control, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of writing, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, John von Neumann, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, natural language processing, obamacare, pattern recognition, payday loans, personalized medicine, precision agriculture, pre–internet, Productivity paradox, RAND corporation, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!
“We’re working on it,” Botts says. 5 THE RISE OF THE DATA SCIENTIST The San Francisco office of Cloudera resides on the eleventh floor of a modern office building on California Street in the city’s financial district. In recent years, a San Francisco office for fast-growing technology companies headquartered in Silicon Valley has become a popular amenity—and one that reflects the shifting topography of entrepreneurialism, talent, and taste in northern California’s Bay Area. Not so long ago, the boundaries were clear-cut. Silicon Valley had all of the start-ups and the engineering wizardry. San Francisco had trendy culture, fine dining, and old money. But the Valley’s monopoly on entrepreneurial vigor has been broken decisively by the rise of San Francisco–based technology companies ranging from Twitter to Salesforce.com, a supplier of Internet software for companies.
The other cofounder was Matt Rogers, a younger Apple alumnus. They recruited an impressive team of Silicon Valley talent in hardware, software, design, and data analysis. They won the backing of blue-chip venture capital firms including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the investment arm of Google, as well as Generation Investment Management, cofounded by Al Gore and dedicated to environmentally responsible investments. The founders’ pitch was that Nest had a historic opportunity to transform the conventional thermostat from a dumb switch into a clever digital assistant that would save home owners money, reduce energy consumption, and curb pollution. A few industrial companies sold programmable thermostats, but they proved to be so hard to program that few people did. The Silicon Valley start-up would make a digital device that didn’t ask users to program it.
“Think about mental disorders,” he urged the audience, “as one of the most critical and most challenging data problems for us out there.” When Hammerbacher gave that Silicon Valley talk, he was already moving toward medicine as his next act. By then, he had become a director of Sage Bionetworks, the nonprofit organization to promote the sharing of medical data. In the fall of 2011, one of the nonprofit’s founders, Eric Schadt, had moved to New York, taking a job at Mount Sinai. Shortly thereafter, Hammerbacher was on a business trip to the East Coast and dropped by Mount Sinai. A renowned researcher in genomics and biomathematics, Schadt had shuttled between the research labs of a couple of big pharmaceutical companies and biotech start-ups. Before Mount Sinai, he was the chief science officer at Pacific Biosciences, a gene sequencing company in Silicon Valley. Schadt did not move east for an ordinary job.
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich
Somewhere in the past few weeks, Mark had explained, in his dorm room over a six-pack of Beck’s, he had come to the conclusion that for the next few months, California seemed like the place he should be. He wanted to work on Wirehog and thefacebook in Silicon Valley—a place of legend, to computer programmers like Mark, the land of all of his heroes. Coincidentally, Andrew McCollum had landed a job at Silicon Valley-based EA sports, and Adam D’Angelo was going as well. Mark and his computer friends had even found a cheap sublet on a street called La Jennifer Way in Palo Alto, right near the Stanford campus. To Mark, it seemed like a perfect plan. He’d bring Dustin along, they’d set up shop in the rental house, and thefacebook and Wirehog would be right where they belonged. California. Silicon Valley. The epicenter of the online world. Even a day later, Eduardo still hadn’t come to terms with Mark’s second bombshell. In truth, he didn’t like the sound of it all; not only was California as far away from New York as you could get—but it was also, to him, a dangerous and seductive place.
Like any kid his age—with the fame he’d acquired through Napster and Plaxo—Sean liked to party. He liked girls. He certainly wasn’t a saint. He was in his early twenties, a kind of Silicon Valley rock star; and he talked really fast, thought really fast. There was a certain jerky, frenetic quality to him—a quality that could be easily misinterpreted. So maybe they had something on him—maybe they didn’t. In any event, in Sean’s view Moritz locked him out. Made him resign from his own company. Made him hand over the keys to his own fucking creation. At the same time, Sean believed he had lost both a company and his two former best friends. It had been ugly, and it had been pathetic, and in Sean’s view it had been unfair. But, well, it had happened. Not just to him—in Silicon Valley, it happened all the time. That was the thing about VC money. It was awesome—until it wasn’t. Plaxo had ended badly, but that hadn’t meant it was over for Sean Parker.
Watching him program at four, five in the morning—every morning—Sean had no doubt that Mark had the makings of one of the truly great success stories in the modern, revitalized Silicon Valley. But where was Eduardo Saverin? Or more accurately—was Eduardo Saverin even part of the equation anymore? Eduardo had seemed like a perfectly nice kid. And of course, he’d been there in the beginning. He’d put up a thousand dollars, according to Mark, to pay for the first servers. And it was his money, at the moment, that was financing the current operation. That gave him some weight, sure, like any investor in a start-up. But beyond that? Eduardo saw himself as a businessman—but what did that mean, exactly? Silicon Valley wasn’t about business—it was an ongoing war. You had to do things out here to survive that weren’t taught in any business class.
My Start-Up Life: What A by Ben Casnocha, Marc Benioff
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, business process, call centre, coherent worldview, creative destruction, David Brooks, don't be evil, fear of failure, hiring and firing, index fund, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Lao Tzu, Menlo Park, Paul Graham, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, superconnector, technology bubble, traffic fines, Year of Magical Thinking
“Entrepreneurs Are Optimists” contains ideas from Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman (New York: Vintage Books, 2006). The Author Ben Casnocha (pronounced kas-NO-ka) is a Silicon Valley–based entrepreneur and writer. Currently nineteen years old, he serves on the board of Comcate, (pronounced KOM-kate) Inc., the leading e-government technology firm he founded six years ago. He has received various accolades. In 2006 BusinessWeek named him one of America’s best young entrepreneurs. In 2004 PoliticsOnline ranked him among the “twenty-five most influential people in the world of internet and politics.” The Silicon Valley Business Journal named his blog one of the “Top 25 in Silicon Valley.” His work has been featured in hundreds of media around the world, including CNN and USA Today. He is a seasoned speaker on entrepreneurship and leadership, and he cofounded an intellectual discussion society for business and technology executives.
My Start-Up Life What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley Ben Casnocha Foreword by Marc Benioff John Wiley & Sons, Inc. My Start-Up Life My Start-Up Life What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley Ben Casnocha Foreword by Marc Benioff John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Copyright © 2007 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Published by Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-1741 www.josseybass.com No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, 978-750-8400, fax 978-646-8600, or on the Web at www.copyright.com.
I realized that while the singular focus on starting a company is exciting in its own ways, diversifying your energies can be equally (if not more) stimulating. >> Despite additional school commitments I still kept a hand in broader Silicon Valley life. I met people of all backgrounds, even 121 122 MY START-UP LIFE if they knew nothing about local government. I went to events on education, science, technology, and journalism. What I was really doing, it seems to me, in this broad engagement with the local community, was creating and projecting a personal brand. I started living my life out loud. Many in the industry knew me for founding Comcate. But I wanted to be known for who I was more than for what I had done. My activities in Silicon Valley life fell into three categories: networking, philanthropy, and media. Networking As an entrepreneur flipped through some PowerPoint slides during a presentation to a group of angel investors at the Keiretsu Forum in San Francisco, my friend Carl Johnston—a sixty-something successful real estate investor—leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Give me one of your business cards.”
Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
Airbnb, airport security, AltaVista, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Donald Trump, Ferguson, Missouri, Firefox, Grace Hopper, job automation, Kickstarter, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, zero-sum game
Hall’s now-deleted article in Forbes, “There Is No Diversity Crisis in Tech,” which he reposted at Medium.com on October 7, 2015: https://medium.com/@brianshall/the-article-on-diversity-in-tech-that-forbes-took-down-15cfd28d5639#.sp3ogqmuw. 2. Michael Young, “Down with Meritocracy,” Guardian, June 28, 2001, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/29/comment. 3. Sarah McBride, “Insight: In Silicon Valley Start-up World, Pedigree Counts,” Reuters, September 12, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-startup-connections-insight-idUSBRE98B15U20130912. 4. Vivek Wadhwa, “Silicon Valley: You and Some of Your VC’s Have a Gender Problem,” TechCrunch, February 7, 2010, https://techcrunch.com/2010/02/07/silicon-valley-you%E2%80%99ve-got-a-gender-problem-and-some-of-your-vc%E2%80%99s-still-live-in-the-past. 5. Claire Burke and Kate Dwyer, “2016 Review of Female Founders Raising Institutional Capital,” Female Founders Fund, February 1, 2017, http://femalefoundersfund.com/2016-review-of-female-founders-raising-institutional-capital/#sthash.Snz0RmSe.dpbs. 6.
But when we start looking at them together, a clear pattern emerges: an industry that is willing to invest plenty of resources in chasing “delight” and “disruption,” but that hasn’t stopped to think about who’s being served by its products, and who’s being left behind, alienated, or insulted. . . . There’s a running joke in the HBO comedy Silicon Valley: every would-be entrepreneur, almost always a twentysomething man, at some point announces that his product will “make the world a better place”—and then describes something either absurdly useless or technically trivial (“constructing elegant hierarchies for maximum code reuse and extensibility,” for example). I’m sure it’s funny, but I don’t actually watch the show regularly. It’s too real. It brings me back to too many terrible conversations at tech conferences: some guy who’s never held a job in his life backing me into a corner at cocktail hour and droning on and on about his idea to “disrupt” some industry or other, while I desperately scan the room for a way out. What Silicon Valley gets right is that tech is an insular industry: a world of mostly white guys who’ve been told they’re special—the best and brightest.
But they share a common foundation: a tech culture that’s built on white, male values—while insisting it’s brilliant enough to serve all of us. Or, as they call it in Silicon Valley, “meritocracy.” It’s a term you’ll hear constantly in tech, whether in a Hacker News forum or on Twitter or in line for coffee in San Francisco. The argument is simple: the tech industry is based purely on merit, and the people who are at the top got there because they were smarter, more innovative, and more ambitious than everyone else. If a company doesn’t employ many women or people of color—well, it’s just because no good ones applied. After all, the story goes, “Silicon Valley is swimming in money” 1—so, clearly nothing’s wrong (never mind that by these criteria alone, you can justify everything from the heroin trade to chattel slavery).
Startupland: How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea Into a Global Business by Mikkel Svane, Carlye Adler
Airbnb, Ben Horowitz, Burning Man, business process, call centre, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, credit crunch, David Heinemeier Hansson, Elon Musk, housing crisis, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Menlo Park, remote working, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tesla Model S, web application
Becoming the Shiny New Thing We circulated a press release about the Series A with CRV in the spring of 2009, and things went bananas. All of a sudden, Zendesk was super hot. We started to get new Silicon Valley customers. We weren’t even looking for more capital, but VCs starting calling us, wanting to invest in the company, and hoping to preempt the next round. It was a huge shift for us, to be chased. Of course, our sudden popularity wasn’t exclusively due to anything new that we had done. It was somewhat reflective of the crazy flock mentality that sometimes also characterizes Silicon Valley. However, it definitely helped that we had built up quite a portfolio of customers in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. That increased our exposure to VCs as they heard our name from their portfolio companies. Whatever the reasons, it was certainly more fun to be on this new side of the equation. 105 Page 105 Svane c06.tex V3 - 10/24/2014 9:08 P.M.
I was not well prepared for this game. Sitting in Alex’s kitchen, I had to admit that I had no idea what I was doing. “Oh my god, Michael Arrington just blackballed us from Silicon Valley,” I announced. The only consolation was that later, Om Malik did publish a nice post. “It’s not sexy, like some social networks, but it is useful and fully featured,” he wrote of us. “Zendesk would fall into our ‘small really is beautiful’ category of startups.”2 It wasn’t a total disaster. 68 Page 68 Svane c04.tex V3 - 10/28/2014 7:36 P.M. 4 The Bubble Redux Battling circumstances beyond your control In response to “TechCrunch-gate,” worried I would never again be in the good graces of Silicon Valley kingpin Michael Arrington, and completely cognizant that I had no clue what I was doing with the press, we hired a marketing pro in San Francisco to help us with introductions and advice.
Some of it was very blunt, with rivals asking our customers, “Why are you using this piece of shit Zendesk product—use this grown-up product instead, these guys are killing it!” (There’s a lot of “crushing it” and “killing it” and other aggressive verbiage in the local vernacular.) You could argue that all this is just the nature of competition, or that success and failure rises and falls based on this kind of hype. Making it in Silicon Valley is not all about letting the best product win. Ultimately it is all about winning the order, closing the deal. It’s about the money. Okay, not all about the money. But definitely a lot about the money. I lost my innocence in Silicon Valley. Maybe we were just so out of touch before. Maybe we were cocky and naïve teenagers for longer than I thought—idealistic and in love with our own story. We thought success was entirely determined by building a great product. I came to realize it was not only about the product but also about the total execution, and that there seemed to be no wrong tactic when it comes to winning the customer.
The Paypal Wars: Battles With Ebay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth by Eric M. Jackson
bank run, business process, call centre, creative destruction, disintermediation, Elon Musk, index fund, Internet Archive, iterative process, Joseph Schumpeter, market design, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, money market fund, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, telemarketer, The Chicago School, the new new thing, Turing test
Gross, a trustee at Cal Tech, opened an Idealab office in Silicon Valley and drew up plans to take his own company public. Even though Idealab proper never provided Confinity with managerial guidance or support, Peter had welcomed its subsidiary’s participation in our second venture round because of the credibility and name recognition it brought to the table. But from our perspective it now looked as if our investment partner liked what it saw during its due diligence so much that it decided to double down with another payments startup. Like X.com two months before, PayMe launched with a media splash. Founder Dan Grigsby trumpeted his service as a technological breakthrough that solved “the awkward situation of collecting money from friends,” and Idealab proudly hailed PayMe as the first company launched by its Silicon Valley office.17 Responding to what he viewed as an act of corporate betrayal, Peter vehemently pushed Gross either to shutter his new venture or to sell back Idealab’s stake in Confinity.
In late July the company assembled at a winery nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains for PayPal’s annual offsite retreat. The executive team chose this site in the rolling, golden hills that form the western edge of Silicon Valley to review major business issues in a relaxing setting away from the busy office. In some ways this perch—looking down on the Valley—was an appropriate setting for a dot-com that had accomplished as much as ours. PayPal survived the NASDAQ crash, outmaneuvered its myriad competitors, slugged its way to profitability, signed up millions of customers, became the first dot-com to IPO following September 11, and had just negotiated a blockbuster sale to an established company. By all accounts, PayPal had reached the pinnacle of Silicon Valley success, and now it was time to reflect on the company’s next steps while also pausing to celebrate its accomplishments. Following a series of presentations on the state of the business by Max, Roelof, and Sacks, employees were dismissed to an outdoor terrace for wine, hors d’oeuvres, and sumo wrestling.
Not conflict with guns or tanks, but a mighty business struggle waged with ingenuity, determination, and plenty of midnight oil. When PayPal’s online payment service debuted toward the end of the dot-com boom, it set in motion a chain of events that would ultimately pit the company’s talented entrepreneurs, revolutionary technology, and bold vision for global currency change against one of the fiercest series of challenges ever endured by a Silicon Valley startup. At the risk of giving away the ending, PayPal managed to survive the onslaught—but just barely. After several years of erratic ups and downs, the venture reached profitability, registered 40 million users, became the first Internet company to stage an IPO following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and eventually sold out to a much bigger firm. While this is an impressive track record by most standards, it’s far short of what our group initially hoped to accomplish.
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bank run, big-box store, citizen journalism, cleantech, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, East Village, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, family office, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Neil Kinnock, new economy, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shock, paypal mafia, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, smart grid, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, union organizing, urban planning, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight, white picket fence, zero-sum game
FOR LAURA, CHARLIE, AND JULIA CONTENTS Title Page Copyright Notice Dedication Prologue PART I 1978 Dean Price Total War: Newt Gingrich Jeff Connaughton 1984 Tammy Thomas Her Own: Oprah Winfrey Jeff Connaughton 1987 Craftsman: Raymond Carver Dean Price Tammy Thomas Mr. Sam: Sam Walton 1994 Jeff Connaughton Silicon Valley 1999 Dean Price Tammy Thomas 2003 Institution Man (1): Colin Powell Jeff Connaughton PART II Dean Price Radish Queen: Alice Waters Tampa Silicon Valley 2008 Institution Man (2): Robert Rubin Jeff Connaughton Tammy Thomas Dean Price Just Business: Jay-Z Tampa PART III Jeff Connaughton 2010 Citizen Journalist: Andrew Breitbart Tampa Dean Price Tammy Thomas Tampa Prairie Populist: Elizabeth Warren Wall Street 2012 Silicon Valley Jeff Connaughton Tampa Tammy Thomas Dean Price Note A Note on Sources Acknowledgments Also by George Packer A Note About the Author Copyright PROLOGUE No one can say when the unwinding began—when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way.
That was when Thiel left New York and moved back to Silicon Valley for good. * * * The Valley was no longer the place Thiel had left four years earlier. What had happened in the meantime was the Internet. Between the midseventies and the early nineties, the personal computer had spawned countless hardware and software companies in Silicon Valley, and in other high-tech centers around the country; during the seventies and eighties the population of San Jose doubled, approaching a million, and by 1994 there were 315 public companies in the Valley. But none of the newer ones had been as important as Hewlett-Packard, Intel, or Apple. In the years since the Macintosh, the computer industry had seen more consolidation than innovation, and the undisputed winner was in Seattle. The most important Silicon Valley company to come along since Apple was originally called Mosaic, started in 1994 by Jim Clark, a former Stanford professor and founder of Silicon Graphics, and Marc Andreessen, a University of Illinois graduate who, at twenty-two, had just the year before developed the first graphical browser for the World Wide Web.
So, at the age of thirty-seven, he joined Arnold & Porter and launched a new career: as a lobbyist. SILICON VALLEY Peter Thiel was three years old when he found out that he was going to die. It was in 1971, and he was sitting on a rug in his family’s apartment in Cleveland. Peter asked his father, “Where did the rug come from?” “It came from a cow,” his father said. They were speaking German, Peter’s first language—the Thiels were from Germany, Peter had been born in Frankfurt. “What happened to the cow?” “The cow died.” “What does that mean?” “It means that the cow is no longer alive. Death happens to all animals. All people. It will happen to me one day. It will happen to you one day.” As he said these things, Peter’s father seemed sad. Peter became sad as well. That day was a very disturbing day, and Peter never got over it. Well after he became a Silicon Valley billionaire he would remain radically disturbed by the prospect of dying.
The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions...and Created Plenty of Controversy by Leigh Gallagher
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Sanders, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, housing crisis, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Justin.tv, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, Network effects, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, performance metric, Peter Thiel, RFID, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the payments system, Tony Hsieh, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, Y Combinator, yield management
While they had come very close, they hadn’t died; they had not had to part ways and each return to their own projects. Airbnb had found an audience, and it had started to grow; they had liftoff. In Silicon Valley start-up terms, Chesky, Gebbia, and Blecharczyk had achieved what’s known as “product/market fit,” a holy grail, proof-of-life milestone that a start-up hits when its concept has both found a good market—one with lots of real, potential customers—and demonstrated that it has created a product that can satisfy that market. Popularization of the term is often credited to Marc Andreessen, the celebrated technology entrepreneur–turned–venture capitalist–turned–philosopher-guru to legions of start-up founders in Silicon Valley. Thousands of start-ups fail trying to get to this point. Product/market fit is a key first achievement; without it, there is no company.
“If you pick the right source, you can fast-forward,” he says. He’d already begun this process with Airbnb’s earliest advisers: first, the weekly office-hours sessions with Michael Seibel and Y Combinator’s Paul Graham; then, breakfasts at Rocco’s with Sequoia’s Greg McAdoo. Airbnb’s next investment rounds unlocked access to Silicon Valley icons like Reid Hoffman, Marc Andreessen, and Ben Horowitz, all seen as gurus when it came to the art of building tech companies in Silicon Valley. The more successful Airbnb became, the more top people the founders had access to, and as it began to get bigger, Chesky started seeking out sources for specific areas of study: Apple’s Jony Ive on design, LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner and Disney’s Bob Iger on management, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on product, and Sheryl Sandberg on international expansion and on the importance of empowering women leaders.
I didn’t give it more than a passing thought. Over the next year or two, though, the company started to gain buzz, edging onto the radar of our tech-reporting team. Someone brought it up internally as a company to watch. Wait a minute, I thought. Those guys? I was not involved with Fortune’s tech coverage, which meant that I didn’t always know what I was talking about when it came to the companies coming out of Silicon Valley. But I also felt that distance gave me a healthy arms’-length perspective on the self-important euphoria that seemed to waft out of the region. As the keeper of Fortune’s “40 under 40” list, I was also used to breathless pitches from companies claiming they would change the world in one year’s time, only to be significantly humbled the next. I sometimes took a certain amount of pleasure in pointing out when I thought certain ideas were overblown and overhyped.
The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, American Legislative Exchange Council, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Brewster Kahle, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, digital Maoism, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, George Gilder, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, Naomi Klein, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, oil rush, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-work, pre–internet, profit motive, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Works Progress Administration, young professional
And there is no guarantee that the lucky few who find success in the winner-take-all economy online are more diverse, authentic, or compelling than those who succeeded under the old system. Despite the exciting opportunities the Internet offers, we are witnessing not a leveling of the cultural playing field, but a rearrangement, with new winners and losers. In the place of Hollywood moguls, for example, we now have Silicon Valley tycoons (or, more precisely, we have Hollywood moguls and Silicon Valley tycoons). The pressure to be quick, to appeal to the broadest possible public, to be sensational, to seek easy celebrity, to be attractive to corporate sponsors—these forces multiply online where every click can be measured, every piece of data mined, every view marketed against. Originality and depth eat away at profits online, where faster fortunes are made by aggregating work done by others, attracting eyeballs and ad revenue as a result.
While the percentage of computer and information sciences degrees women earned rose from 14 percent to 37 percent between 1970 and 1985, that share declined to 18 percent by 2008.15 An article in the New York Times about gender and tech reported on the barriers women face in Silicon Valley: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer excepted, the notion of the boy genius prevails. Over 85 percent of venture capitalists are men looking to invest in other men, and women make forty-nine cents for every dollar their male counterparts rake in. Though 40 percent of private businesses are women-owned nationwide, only 8 percent of the venture-backed tech start-ups are. Established companies are equally segregated. The National Center for Women and Information Technology reports that of the top one hundred tech companies, only 6 percent of chief executives are women.16 The numbers for Asians who ascend to the top are comparable despite the fact that they make up a third of all Silicon Valley software engineers.17 In 2010, not even 1 percent of the founders of Silicon Valley companies were black.18 Data on gender within online communities, routinely held up as exemplars of a new, open culture, are especially damning.
There have been revelations about the existence of a sprawling international surveillance infrastructure, uncompetitive business and exploitative labor practices, and shady political lobbying initiatives, all of which have made major technology firms the subjects of increasing scrutiny from academics, commentators, activists, and even government officials in the United States and abroad.3 People are beginning to recognize that Silicon Valley platitudes about “changing the world” and maxims like “don’t be evil” are not enough to ensure that some of the biggest corporations on Earth will behave well. The risk, however, is that we will respond to troubling disclosures and other disappointments with cynicism and resignation when what we need is clearheaded and rigorous inquiry into the obstacles that have stalled some of the positive changes the Internet was supposed to usher in.
The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, asset-backed security, Atul Gawande, bank run, barriers to entry, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, bonus culture, Brian Krebs, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chelsea Manning, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computerized markets, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, don't be evil, drone strike, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, High speed trading, hiring and firing, housing crisis, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, interest rate swap, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, kremlinology, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mobile money, moral hazard, new economy, Nicholas Carr, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, Philip Mirowski, precariat, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, risk-adjusted returns, Satyajit Das, search engine result page, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social intelligence, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steven Levy, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, two-sided market, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game
If so, how and when should citizens get to learn what’s going on? 6 THE BLACK BOX SOCIETY • Should the hundreds of thousands of American citizens placed on secret “watch lists” be so informed, and should they be given the chance to clear their names? The leading firms of Wall Street and Silicon Valley are not alone in the secretiveness of their operations, but I will be focusing primarily on them because of their unique roles in society. While accounting for “less than 10% of the value added” in the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter of 2010, the finance sector took 29 percent— $57.7 billion— of profits.14 Silicon Valley firms are also remarkably profitable, and powerful.15 What finance firms do with money, leading Internet companies do with attention. They direct it toward some ideas, goods, and ser vices, and away from others. They organize the world for us, and we have been quick to welcome this data-driven convenience.
Competitive striving can do as much to trample privacy as to protect it.133 In an era where Big Data is the key to maximizing profit, every business has an incentive to be nosy.134 What the search industry blandly calls “competition” for users and “consent” to data collection looks increasingly like monopoly and coercion. Silicon Valley is no longer a wide-open realm of opportunity. The start-ups of today may be able to sell their bright ideas to the existing web giants. They may get rich doing so. But they’re not likely to become web giants themselves. Silicon Valley promulgates a myth of constant “disruption”; it presents itself as a seething cauldron of creative chaos that leaves even the top-seeded players always at risk. But the truth of the great Internet firms is closer to the oligopolistic dominance of AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast. In 2008, I testified before a congressional committee about Google’s market power.
This latter requirement is worthy of note. I was at a conference dinner talking about some basic principles of search neutrality when a Silicon Valley consultant said abruptly, “We can’t code for neutrality.” He meant that decisions about fair treatment of ordered sites could not be reduced to the algorithms that drive most sites’ operations. When I offered some of the proposals I’ve made in this book, he simply repeated, with a touch of condescension: “Yes, but we can’t code for it, so it can’t be done.” For him, not only the technology, but even the social practices of current operations are unalterable givens of all future policy interventions. Reform will proceed on the Silicon Valley giants’ terms, or not at all. He assumed that if decisions couldn’t be made at the speed of current searches, they oughtn’t happen.
eBoys by Randall E. Stross
barriers to entry, business cycle, call centre, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, disintermediation, edge city, high net worth, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, job-hopping, knowledge worker, late capitalism, market bubble, Menlo Park, new economy, old-boy network, passive investing, performance metric, pez dispenser, railway mania, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Y2K
Mike Moritz, of Sequoia Capital, peeled back the truth with mordant detachment: “One of the dirty little secrets of the Valley is that all the jobs-creation we like to talk about is probably less than the Big Three automakers have laid off in the last decade. One of the best ways to have a nice Silicon Valley company is to keep your head count as low as possible for as long as possible.” The Benchmark partners never parroted the line that venture capital gave the world the gift of new jobs; they never claimed anything grand. As long as they hewed to the we-serve-entrepreneurs theme, their self-described role in a larger scheme was limited. The individual venture capitalist in Silicon Valley did not make life-or-death decisions about promising fledgling businesses; there was simply too much capital available from too many different sources for a good idea to remain unfunded. If hospitable tax policies changed, however, or the supply of capital from institutional investors was turned off, or if any of a dozen other factors that created the underlying—and delicate—ecosystem for entrepreneurialism were altered, then the formation of new ventures would be conspicuously affected.
Dee, 1989), pp. 71–72. 6: Room at the Top first to go public: Benchmark did not want to follow Kleiner Perkins in one way that a 1998 Fortune profile of KP pointed out: Between 1990 and 1997, the stock of KP-backed companies tended to drop after the IPO. “KP took public 79 infotech and life sciences companies that have not been acquired since. If you’d bought each of those stocks immediately after the first day of trading, you would have lost money on 55 of them. That’s right, a loser rate of 70 percent.” Melanie Warner, “Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine,” Fortune, 26 October 1998. The Economist estimated: “Going, Going . . . : On-line Auctions,” The Economist, 31 May 1997. his memoir, Startup: Jerry Kaplan, Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995). For an article that highlights Kaplan’s tendency to overdramatize and claim credit for advances achieved by predecessors, see Lee Gomes, “Story of Go Is Juicy, But Is It History?” San Jose Mercury News, 26 June 1995. creating a bidding experience: “Making the Sale,” Wall Street Journal, 17 June 1996.
The eBay story happened to unfold right in front of my eyes—and my tape recorder; I must confess I was as surprised as anyone. A year before eBay knocked on Benchmark Capital’s door, I had knocked there, interested in writing a book about a corner of the financial world whose inner workings remained shrouded, even to those in other precincts of professional money management. Yet venture capitalists, who were concentrated in Silicon Valley, were entrusted with ever increasing amounts of capital by institutions, such as university endowments and charitable foundations, to invest in newly formed companies. In 1996 venture funds attracted $10 billion in capital; in 1997 the total jumped to $20 billion; and in 1998 it passed $26 billion. It was a form of investing that brought higher risk than investing in shares of publicly traded companies found in the stock market, but it offered the prospect of higher returns, too.
One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt
Amazon Web Services, automated trading system, big-box store, call centre, cloud computing, Dynabook, Elon Musk, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, new economy, science of happiness, search inside the book, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, software patent, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K
“Shel” Kaphan, a well-known engineer who had been bouncing from start-up to start-up in Silicon Valley in search of one that would become the next Apple Computer. It was early 1994. Kaphan had a B.A. in mathematics from the University of California in Santa Cruz, the laid-back university and surfer town where he grew up. But by the mid-1990s, Santa Cruz, seventy miles down the coast from San Francisco and thirty-five miles southwest of San Jose, had become something of a Silicon Valley suburb. Several technology companies had moved or grown up there, and people (like Kaphan) who preferred the coastal, hippie-ish culture of Santa Cruz commuted to Silicon Valley. Kaphan’s reputation as a superb programmer had spread throughout Silicon Valley over the twenty years he had worked there, but he had not yet ended up at a successful start-up where he could make his fortune.
Another came in 1991, when the Internet was opened up to commercial use for the first time. It took several more years before these changes caught on and spread to popular awareness. In 1993, a government-funded group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created a new generation of Web browser called Mosaic, a wonderful, graphics-based browser. The following year, a very astute Silicon Valley venture capitalist named John Doerr decided to recruit a bright young man, Marc Andreessen, from the Mosaic team in Illinois to move to Silicon Valley and start a Web browser company. That same year the company, called Netscape, launched its browser, Navigator. Shaw decided the Internet had a future, and gave Bezos the task of finding the opportunities there. In the spring of 1994, he began researching the Internet, and was impressed with what he found. Primarily, he says, he came across an important statistic: The Internet was growing at 2,300 percent a year!
While most entrepreneurs were moving to Silicon Valley as the obvious place to become an entrepreneur, Jeff took a different approach: Yes, he would create another deal flow list to help decide. He came up with three criteria: It had to be a place with an established population of entrepreneurs and software programmers. He wanted to locate the business in a state with a relatively low population because only residents of that state would have to pay sales tax on the products he sold. He wanted a city near a warehouse run by one of the major book distributors so he could get supplies quickly. But the city also had to be a major metropolitan hub with an airport offering a lot of daily flights so he could deliver books to his customers quickly. The city that best suited the criteria was not in Silicon Valley. Bezos found that Seattle, Washington—the birthplace of Microsoft—best fit the bill.
A People’s History of Computing in the United States by Joy Lisi Rankin
activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Albert Einstein, Apple II, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, computer age, corporate social responsibility, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, Howard Zinn, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pink-collar, profit motive, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the market place, urban planning, Whole Earth Catalog, wikimedia commons
T hese works include Susan Rosegrant and David Lampe, Route 128: Lessons from Boston’s High-Tech Community (New York: Basic Books, 1992); 245 246 Notes to Pages 3–5 AnnaLee Saxenian, Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994); Christophe Lécuyer, Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930–1970 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006); and Barry Katz, Make It New: The History of Silicon Valley Design (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015). Margaret Pugh O’Mara’s Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005) includes Philadelphia and Atlanta, but offers a chapter on Silicon Valley as the basis for comparison. Notable exceptions to this American bicoastal focus are Paul Ceruzzi’s Internet Alley: High Technology in Tysons Corner, 1945–2005 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008) and Thomas Misa’s Digital State: The Story of Minnesota’s Computing Industry (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013). 6.
Instead, he featured people rarely seen or heard in synthetic or textbook history to that point, including Cherokee and Arawak Native Americans, young women factory workers, enslaved African Americans, socialists, and pacifists. The history of computing and networking has likewise been dominated by a Great White Men (and now, maybe a handful of women) storyline. Part of the Silicon Valley myt hology is that the Information Age had Founding Fathers, men including Jobs, Gates, and Zuckerberg. According to this origin story, t here were no computers for ordinary people—no personal computing—until those Founding Fathers and their hardware and software made computing accessible to everyone. Business and government leaders around the world look to Silicon Valley for guidance, inspiration, and emulation, but the Silicon Valley ideal venerates grand men with grand ideas. That narrative, by focusing on the few, has obliterated the history of the many: the many people across the United States and around the world who have been computing in different ways for decades.
Classification: LCC QA76.17 .R365 2018 | DDC 004.0973—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018009562 For Scott and Lucy Contents introduction: People Computing (Not the Silicon Valley Mythology) 1 1 When Students Taught the Computer 2 Making a Macho Computing Culture 3 Back to BASICs 12 38 66 4 The Promise of Computing Utilities and the Proliferation of Networks 106 5 How The Oregon Trail Began in Minnesota 139 6 PLATO Builds a Plasma Screen 7 PLATO’s Republic (or, the Other ARPANET) 193 epilogue: From Personal Computing to Personal Computers 228 Notes 245 Bibliography 295 Acknowle dgments Index 315 311 166 A People’s History of Computing in the United States Introduction People Computing (Not the Silicon Valley Mythology) The students at South Portland High School buzzed with enthusiasm; the wires in their classroom walls hummed with information.
You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier
1960s counterculture, accounting loophole / creative accounting, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, call centre, cloud computing, commoditize, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, different worldview, digital Maoism, Douglas Hofstadter, Extropian, follow your passion, hive mind, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Long Term Capital Management, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, social graph, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog
There was a discernible ambient disgust with advertising in an earlier, more hippie like phase of Silicon Valley, before the outlandish rise of Google. Advertising was often maligned back then as a core sin of the bad old-media world we were overthrowing. Ads were at the very heart of the worst of the devils we would destroy, commercial television. Ironically, advertising is now singled out as the only form of expression meriting genuine commercial protection in the new world to come. Any other form of expression is to be remashed, anonymized, and decontextualized to the point of meaninglessness. Ads, however, are to be made ever more contextual, and the content of the ad is absolutely sacrosanct. No one—and I mean no one—dares to mash up ads served in the margins of their website by Google. When Google started to rise, a common conversation in Silicon Valley would go like this: “Wait, don’t we hate advertising?”
Making money in the cloud doesn’t necessarily bring rain to the ground. The Big N Here we come to one way that the ideal of “free” music and the corruption of the financial world are connected. Silicon Valley has actively proselytized Wall Street to buy into the doctrines of open/free culture and crowdsourcing. According to Chris Anderson, for instance, Bear Stearns issued a report in 2007 “to address pushback and other objections from media industry heavyweights who make up a big part of Bear Stearns’s client base.” What the heavyweights were pushing back against was the Silicon Valley assertion that “content” from identifiable humans would no longer matter, and that the chattering of the crowd with itself was a better business bet than paying people to make movies, books, and music.
The winning subculture doesn’t have a formal name, but I’ve sometimes called the members “cybernetic totalists” or “digital Maoists.” The ascendant tribe is composed of the folks from the open culture/Creative Commons world, the Linux community, folks associated with the artificial intelligence approach to computer science, the web 2.0 people, the anticontext file sharers and remashers, and a variety of others. Their capital is Silicon Valley, but they have power bases all over the world, wherever digital culture is being created. Their favorite blogs include Boing Boing, TechCrunch, and Slashdot, and their embassy in the old country is Wired. Obviously, I’m painting with a broad brush; not every member of the groups I mentioned subscribes to every belief I’m criticizing. In fact, the groupthink problem I’m worried about isn’t so much in the minds of the technologists themselves, but in the minds of the users of the tools the cybernetic totalists are promoting.
The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax
Airbnb, barriers to entry, big-box store, call centre, cloud computing, creative destruction, death of newspapers, declining real wages, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, game design, hypertext link, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, low cost airline, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Minecraft, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, race to the bottom, Rosa Parks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Travis Kalanick, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog
Meditation and its broader umbrella movement, mindfulness, have become practically mandatory at the leading companies in Silicon Valley. Google’s Search Inside Yourself program features regular meditation classes, and the company even has a purpose-built labyrinth for walking meditations. Facebook and Twitter both have meditation rooms in their offices, something that is now even found at hedge funds and banks. Zen masters, monks, and mindfulness gurus are as in demand in Silicon Valley as personal trainers and java script coders, and Unterberg himself has consulted with Yahoo!, Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP, and others (all entirely unpaid, as part of his Buddhist teaching). None of this is terribly new. After all, Steve Jobs, the great tech guru of our times, regularly practiced meditation, and much of Silicon Valley’s roots are tied into Northern California’s counterculture, when yogis, ashrams, and organic food went hand in hand with software design.
The cognitive requirements for working with tech are so high, it’s antiegalitarian. You get all of these effects together, and the digital economy is an unequal economy.” Silicon Valley may be booming, but that doesn’t help the hundreds living in homeless camps just miles away. Research by the Brookings Institution found that San Francisco saw a vast increase in inequality from 2007 to 2012, more than any other US city. Occasionally this issue gets pushed to the forefront, as it did in 2013, when groups of protesters in San Francisco blocked the private buses that shuttled workers at technology firms to their jobs in Silicon Valley. The objective of the protests was ostensibly around these so-called luxury buses abusing taxpayer-funded infrastructure, but its root was the increasing divide in that city between the tech haves and the nontech have-nots.
“You break down the artificial barriers that we built, and relearn how to do what we’ve forgotten.” Meditation may be a fairly esoteric application of analog thinking in Silicon Valley, but across digital technology companies, the investment in analog is most visible in the physical workspace. Tech company offices, especially startups, are often rightly ridiculed for their outlandish, almost kindergartenesque atmosphere. The cliché of Segway-riding, foosball-playing coder bros picking up free kale smoothies on their way to the free bike mechanic class may be overplayed, but the reality is actually even more surreal. During my week in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, many of the offices I visited were just a talking chair shy of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. This might seem like a reflection of high tech’s often juvenile, nerdy executives and founders (give a twenty-five-year-old geek hundreds of millions of dollars and an architect, and what do you expect?)
Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea by John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge
affirmative action, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, business process, Charles Lindbergh, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, double entry bookkeeping, Etonian, hiring and firing, industrial cluster, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, manufacturing employment, market bubble, mittelstand, new economy, North Sea oil, race to the bottom, railway mania, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strikebreaker, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, tulip mania, wage slave, William Shockley: the traitorous eight
It was no coincidence that the main corporate heroes of the period all hailed from a place famous for small, agile firms—the thin sliver of land between San Jose and San Francisco that had once been known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight. SILICON VALLEY In 1996, with the Internet revolution gathering pace, John Perry Barlow, a Grateful Dead songwriter and cyber guru, issued the following warning: “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of the Mind. I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us.” Silicon Valley’s penchant for hyperbole can be grating. All the same, the business ideas that the Valley pioneered, combined with the technology it invented, helped unbundle the company still further. Silicon Valley’s story actually dates back to 1938, when David Packard and a fellow Stanford engineering student, Bill Hewlett, set up shop in a garage in Palo Alto.
To its shame, the Valley turned to the American government for protection, but it also successfully changed shape, outsourcing its manufacturing and diversifying from chips into computer software. This metamorphosis underlined what set the Valley apart.20 America’s other high-tech center, Boston’s Route 128, boasted just as much venture capital, and just as many universities. Yet, when both clusters fell from grace in the mid-1980s, Silicon Valley proved far more resilient. The reason was structural. Big East Coast firms such as Digital Equipment and Data General were self-contained empires that focused on one product, mini-computers. Silicon Valley’s network of small firms endlessly spawned new ones. It was for much the same reason that the Internet business found a natural home in northern California. The late 1990s saw an unprecedented number of young Valley firms going public. In 2000 alone, some $20 billion of venture capital was pumped into the region.
In 2000 alone, some $20 billion of venture capital was pumped into the region. By then, the Internet bubble was already bursting. Even allowing for that (and all the Valley’s other drawbacks, such as high house prices, terrible traffic, and unrelenting ugliness), the region still counted as the most dynamic industry cluster in the world. By 2001, Silicon Valley provided jobs for 1.35 million people, roughly three times the figure for 1975, its productivity and income levels were roughly double the national averages, and it collected one in twelve new patents in America.21 Silicon Valley changed companies in two ways. The first was through the products it made. At the heart of nearly all of them was the principle of miniaturization. In the last three decades of the twentieth century, the cost of computing processing power tumbled by 99.99 percent—or 35 percent a year.22 Computers thrust ever more power down the corporate hierarchy—to local area networks, to the desktop, and increasingly to outside the office altogether.
The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
1960s counterculture, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, beat the dealer, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Byte Shop, c2.com, call centre, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, desegregation, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Terrell, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight
Sources for the passages on Silicon Valley include Leslie Berlin’s The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley (Oxford, 2005; locations refer to the Kindle edition), 1332 and passim. Berlin is the project historian for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford and is writing a book on the rise of Silicon Valley. Also: Rebecca Lowen, Creating the Cold War University: The Transformation of Stanford (University of California, 1997); Michael Malone, The Intel Trinity (HarperBusiness, 2014), Infinite Loop (Doubleday, 1999), The Big Score: The Billion Dollar Story of Silicon Valley (Doubleday, 1985), The Valley of Heart’s Delight: A Silicon Valley Notebook, 1963–2001 (Wiley, 2002), Bill and Dave (Portfolio, 2007); Christophe Lécuyer, Making Silicon Valley (MIT, 2007); C. Stewart Gillmore, Fred Terman at Stanford: Building a Discipline, a University, and Silicon Valley (Stanford, 2004); Margaret Pugh O’Mara, Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, 2005); Thomas Heinrich, “Cold War Armory: Military Contracting in Silicon Valley,” Enterprise & Society, June 1, 2002; Steve Blank, “The Secret History of Silicon Valley,” http://steveblank.com/secret-history/. 50.
Gordon Moore interview, “Silicon Valley,” PBS, 2013. 60. Author’s interview with Gordon Moore. 61. Riordan and Hoddeson, Crystal Fire, 239. 62. Berlin, The Man Behind the Microchip, 1469. 63. Jay Last interview, “Silicon Valley,” PBS, 2013. 64. Malone, Intel Trinity, 107. 65. Jay Last interview, “Silicon Valley,” PBS, 2013; Berlin, The Man Behind the Microchip, 1649; Riordan and Hoddeson, Crystal Fire, 246. 66. Berlin, The Man Behind the Microchip, 1641. 67. Shurkin, Broken Genius, 3118. 68. Author’s interview with Gordon Moore. 69. Arnold Beckman oral history, conducted by Jeffrey L. Sturchio and Arnold Thackray, Chemical Heritage Foundation, July 23, 1985. 70. Gordon Moore and Jay Last interviews, “Silicon Valley,” PBS, 2013. 71. Regis McKenna and Michael Malone interviews, “Silicon Valley,” PBS, 2013. 72.
Stewart Gillmore, Fred Terman at Stanford: Building a Discipline, a University, and Silicon Valley (Stanford, 2004); Margaret Pugh O’Mara, Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, 2005); Thomas Heinrich, “Cold War Armory: Military Contracting in Silicon Valley,” Enterprise & Society, June 1, 2002; Steve Blank, “The Secret History of Silicon Valley,” http://steveblank.com/secret-history/. 50. Berlin, The Man Behind the Microchip, 1246; Reid, The Chip, 1239. In addition to these two sources and those cited below, the section draws on my interviews with Gordon Moore and Andy Grove; Shurkin, Broken Genius; Michael Malone, The Intel Trinity (Harpers, 2014); Tom Wolfe, “The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce,” Esquire, Dec. 1983; Bo Lojek, History of Semiconductor Engineering (Springer, 2007); notebooks and items in the Computer History Museum; Robert Noyce oral history, conducted by Michael F.
How to Be the Startup Hero: A Guide and Textbook for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Entrepreneurs by Tim Draper
3D printing, Airbnb, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, business climate, carried interest, connected car, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Deng Xiaoping, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, family office, fiat currency, frictionless, frictionless market, high net worth, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe's law, Metcalfe’s law, Mikhail Gorbachev, Minecraft, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, Ralph Waldo Emerson, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, school choice, school vouchers, self-driving car, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Tesla Model S, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
But, perhaps his greatest contribution to the world was that he was the first Silicon Valley venture capitalist, founding Draper Gaither and Anderson in 1957. My grandfather on my mother’s side, William Culbertson was a networker. He was chairman of Merrill Lynch International, growing their remote offices overseas. Seeing an opportunity to spread the ability for people to more easily invest in the stock market, he set up brokerage offices for Merrill Lynch all over the world. My father, William H. Draper III, is a trailblazer. He was a pioneer in venture capital, funding the first-ever software company, Activision; the first floppy disk manufacturers, Quantum and Priam; the first agricultural DNA company Hybritech; and the first Silicon Valley Chinese Immigrant entrepreneur, David Lee, who founded Qume, the first daisy wheel computer printer.
After my speech, the first question I got was, “What do you recommend we people of Detroit do to get the kind of prosperity we hear about from the Silicon Valley?” I answered, “Well, you have been living off the automotive teat for more than three generations. That is long enough! I recommend that you do something else.” Then she followed up with, “But if we want to stay in automotive, what then?” I said, “Well, you have lost the electric car game to Tesla, so you better make ‘em fly.” The press took that message to the car companies, and the quotes I saw from the CEOs of the Big Three were understandably a little angry. Two of them went on the attack, saying in effect, “Who is this jerk from the Silicon Valley coming to Detroit to tell us how the auto industry should work?” The President of Ford, to his credit, did say something to the effect that they were not as up on the new technologies as they would like to be, but it was clear that I had lit a fuse.
Maybe he believed it, and maybe he just knew how I ticked, because nothing could have motivated me more…. I put a team together with local Anchorage real estate businessman Jim Yarmon and fellow Harvard Business School alum Jim Lynch. The three of us agreed to put half the money in Alaska, and half in Silicon Valley. We called the fund Polaris Fund to give it local appeal, and we were off to the races. We made it work, funding a bone-stretching technology company (seemed painful, but it grew people’s bones), a low-Earth orbit satellite company, and the fish head splitter company as well as a few great Silicon Valley companies. It took a few years, but we ended up returning the $6 million to AIDEA and much more. Burt can now rest easy knowing that the money was well invested. This Polaris Fund in Alaska turned out to be the first of many network partners we would set up.
No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier
Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, blockchain, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, cryptocurrency, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Frank Gehry, Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, Peter Thiel, ride hailing / ride sharing, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, Travis Kalanick, ubercab, Zipcar
Systrom squandered both of his, choosing instead to do something much less risky. For him, after graduating Stanford with degrees in management and engineering, going to Google was basically like going to grad school. He’d have a salary with a base of about $60,000—paltry compared to the life-changing wealth Facebook would have afforded—but he would get a crash course in Silicon Valley logic. Founded in 1998, Google had started trading on public markets in 2004, minting enough millionaires to lift Silicon Valley out of its malaise from the dot-com bust. When Systrom joined in 2006, it had almost 10,000 employees. Google, far more functional and established than tiny Odeo, was led mostly by former Stanford students making data-based decisions. It was the culture that drove homepage leader Marissa Mayer, who later became CEO of Yahoo!, to famously test 41 shades of blue to figure out what color would give the company’s hyperlinks the highest click-through rate.
They had to save money because they weren’t sure how long it would take to make Burbn successful, or if it would even be successful. A couple months later, a meeting with Andreessen’s Conway, the son of famed Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway, dashed their hopes further. “What do you guys do again?” Conway asked. Systrom tried once more to explain Burbn—It’s a fun way to see what your friends are doing and go join them in real life! You can get inspired about where to go next! But it was clear Conway wasn’t excited about the idea, despite playing a part in his firm’s investment. To him, Systrom seemed to be rattling off all of Silicon Valley’s latest buzzwords. Mobile? Check. Social? Check. Location-based? Check. Conway was probably the tenth person with a deer-in-the-headlights reaction to the app, Systrom thought.
Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone by Satya Nadella, Greg Shaw, Jill Tracie Nichols
"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Amazon Web Services, anti-globalists, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bretton Woods, business process, cashless society, charter city, cloud computing, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, equal pay for equal work, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fault tolerance, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Mars Rover, Minecraft, Mother of all demos, NP-complete, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, place-making, Richard Feynman, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, special economic zone, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, telepresence, telerobotics, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade liberalization, two-sided market, universal basic income, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, young professional, zero-sum game
Leaders were asking how the latest wave of technology could be used to grow jobs and economic opportunity. It’s the question I get most often from city, state, and national leaders wherever I travel. Part of my response is to urge policymakers to broaden their thinking about the role of technology in economic development. Too often they focus on trying to attract Silicon Valley companies in hopes they will open offices locally. They want Silicon Valley satellites. Instead, they should be working on plans to make the best technologies available to local entrepreneurs so that they can organically grow more jobs at home—not just in high-tech industries but in every economic sector. They need to develop economic strategies that can enhance the natural advantages their regions enjoy in particular industries by fully and quickly embracing supportive leading-edge technologies.
Washington Post, February 17, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-wants-apple-to-help-unlock-iphone-used-by-san-bernardino-shooter/2016/02/16/69b903ee-d4d9-11e5-9823-02b905009f99_story.html. Bloomberg, Michael. “The Terrorism Fight Needs Silicon Valley; Tech Executives Are Dangerously Wrong in Resisting the Government’s Requests for Their Help.” Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-terrorism-fight-needs-silicon-valley-1467239710. Hazelwood, Charles. “Trusting the Ensemble.” TED Talk, 19:36, filmed July 2011. http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_hazlewood. Gates, Bill. “Memo from Bill Gates.” The Official Microsoft Blog, January 11, 2012. http://news.microsoft.com/2012/01/11/memo-from-bill-gates/#sm.00000196kro2y0ndaxxlau37xidty.
Speaking to us from another century, Rilke is saying that what lies ahead is very much within us, determined by the course each of us takes today. That course, those decisions, is what I’ve set out to describe. In these pages, you will follow three distinct storylines. First, as prologue, I’ll share my own transformation moving from India to my new home in America with stops in the heartland, in Silicon Valley, and at a Microsoft then in its ascendancy. Part two focuses on hitting refresh at Microsoft as the unlikely CEO who succeeded Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Microsoft’s transformation under my leadership is not complete, but I am proud of our progress. In the third and final act, I’ll take up the argument that a Fourth Industrial Revolution lies ahead, one in which machine intelligence will rival that of humans.
Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle
Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, Ben Horowitz, cloud computing, El Camino Real, Erik Brynjolfsson, fear of failure, Jeff Bezos, longitudinal study, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple
Notes Chapter 1: The Caddie and the CEO 1.Arthur Daley, “Sports of the Times; Pride of the Lions,” New York Times, November 22, 1961. 2.“300 Attend Testimonial for Columbia’s Eleven,” New York Times, December 20, 1961. 3.Photograph courtesy of Columbia University Athletics. 4.Photograph courtesy of Columbia University Athletics. 5.George Vecsey, “From Morningside Heights to Silicon Valley,” New York Times, September 5, 2009. 6.Charles Butler, “The Coach of Silicon Valley,” Columbia College Today, May 2005. 7.P. Frost, J. E. Dutton, S. Maitlis, J. Lilius, J. Kanov, and M. Worline, “Seeing Organizations Differently: Three Lenses on Compassion,” in The SAGE Handbook of Organization Studies, 2nd ed., eds. S. Clegg, C. Hardy, T. Lawrence, and W. Nord (London: Sage Publications, 2006), 843–66. 8.Butler, “The Coach of Silicon Valley.” 9.Michael Hiltzik, “A Reminder That Apple’s ‘1984’ Ad Is the Only Great Super Bowl Commercial Ever—and It’s Now 33 Years Old,” Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2017. 10.Michael P.
But as a guy from a working-class town, a former football coach with a nontechnical degree who parachuted into Silicon Valley in the early 1980s, Bill had some experience with feeling out of place. Yet he was always fully himself, and he expected no less than that from the people he coached. He felt that when people could be so authentic as to bring their full selves to work, they would be more respected by their colleagues, and would appreciate it more when others did the same. Brad Smith (former Intuit CEO) and Shellye Archambeau (former CEO of MetricStream) received similar advice from Bill. Brad is from West Virginia and sports a strong accent; early in his career he was advised to get speech training to lose it. He decided not to. “I realized my accent isn’t a bug, it’s a feature,” Brad now says (perfectly mixing Silicon Valley parlance with West Virginia drawl).
Dedication TO BILL Contents Cover Title Page Dedication Foreword by Adam Grant Chapter 1: The Caddie and the CEO Chapter 2: Your Title Makes You a Manager. Your People Make You a Leader. Chapter 3: Build an Envelope of Trust Chapter 4: Team First Chapter 5: The Power of Love Chapter 6: The Yardstick Acknowledgments Notes Index About the Authors Also by the Authors Copyright About the Publisher Foreword Nearly a decade ago, I read a story in Fortune about Silicon Valley’s best-kept secret. It wasn’t a piece of hardware or a bit of software. It wasn’t even a product. It was a man. His name was Bill Campbell, and he wasn’t a hacker. He was a football coach turned sales guy. Yet somehow, Bill had become so influential that he went on a weekly Sunday walk with Steve Jobs, and the Google founders said they wouldn’t have made it without him. Bill’s name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it.
The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, charter city, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, ghettoisation, gig economy, Haight Ashbury, helicopter parent, hive mind, Hyperloop, immigration reform, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Islamic Golden Age, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, megacity, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Oculus Rift, open borders, out of africa, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, QAnon, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, women in the workforce, Y2K
Do people on your coast think all this is real? When the tech executive asked me that, I told him that we did—that the promise of Silicon Valley was as much an article of faith for those of us watching from the outside as for its insiders; that we both envied the world of digital and hoped that it would remain the great exception to economic disappointment, the place where even in the long, sluggish recovery from the crash of 2008, the promise of American innovation was still alive. And I would probably say the same thing now, despite the stories I’ve just told—because notwithstanding Billy McFarland and Elizabeth Holmes, notwithstanding the peculiar trajectory of Uber, many Silicon Valley institutions deserve their success, many tech companies have real customers and real revenue and a solid structure underneath, and the Internet economy is as real as twenty-first-century growth and innovation gets.
That could serve as the epigraph not only for the portrait of the American upper-middle class (mobbed up and otherwise) in that show but also for the portraits of the modern American city’s politics and culture in The Wire; the portrait of Washington, DC, in shows such as House of Cards and (rather less self-seriously) Veep; and other decadence-infused productions, from Breaking Bad, to True Detective, to Girls. The stagnationist, tech-skeptical view of Silicon Valley as a lot of money and ego and talent chasing a lot of essentially small ideas is also the view served up by Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley on HBO. Nowhere is Barzun’s image of a “falling-off” in Western life more vividly embodied than by Walter White and his frustrated ambitions, or Hannah Horvath and her drifting urban pals. (Something similar is true in literary fiction: its cultural currency has declined with its sales, and the breakout exceptions are often fictions—the work of Michel Houellebecq, the bad-hookup New Yorker short story “Cat Person,” the novels of Sally Rooney—that replace the old nineteenth-century marriage plot with stories about how the sexes struggle to relate to one another anymore.)
To many readers, this argument will seem counterintuitive: a definition of decadence that dealt only with excess and luxury and various forms of political sclerosis might fit our era, but the idea of an overall stagnation or repetition—of late-modern civilization as a treadmill rather than a headlong charge—doesn’t fit particularly well with many readings of the age in which we live. It seems in tension with the sense of constant acceleration, of vertiginous change, that permeates so much of early-twenty-first-century life—as well as with the jargon of our time, which from Davos, to Silicon Valley, to the roving tent-revivalism of TED Talks, retains a breathless faith that the world is changing at a pace that would put Thomas Edison and Samuel Morse to shame. The question, though, is whether that jargon corresponds with reality anymore, or whether our sense of continued acceleration is now to some extent an illusion created by the Internet—the one area of clear technological progress in our era, but also a distorting filter on the world beyond your screen.