Defending Silicon Valley: Separating the Good Apples from the Bad
Sam Altman is a partner at Y Combinator. He also previously founded Loopt – a geosocial networking app, which allows people to share their location with their friends. He sold the company for $43.4 million. Sometimes you will catch him wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘make things that people want’.
If you ask him why outsiders have such a bad impression of Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs, he will accept that it exists because there are actually such people in Silicon Valley.
Technological companies in Silicon Valley are now facing a backlash from protestors who have accused them of gentrifying San Francisco. The reactions are taking various forms. In many instance, the protestors have cut the tires, broken the windows and even purposely thrown up on the staff buses of tech giants like Yahoo! and Google. A letter sent by Tom Perkins in January to the Wall Street Journal, in which he compared the protestors to Nazis has not helped either.
The revolt is mainly about rising income inequality and housing costs in San Francisco. There are also concerns about whether the United States has put in too much faith and money into tech entreprenuers who now control a vast amount of data through their handling of web searches, personal photos and emails.
Why Silicon Valley is not as bad as it is said to be
Love it or hate it, but you have to admit that Silicon Valley is leading the United States economy. Wall Street is no more home to the American dream; it is Silicon Valley. In the Bay Area, you will find old school optimism; immigrants are welcome here, hard work pays and people believe in a good future for their children.
In New York, people might dream about Hampton or sending their kids to a private school but in Silicon valley, the definition of high status is different – it is angel investing. People mocked Spiegel for turning down an offer of $3 billion from Facebook, but did they ever think that maybe money is not important to him; maybe he wants to run a billion dollar company with worldwide influence?
Silicon Valley puts money into a lot of pockets other than just techno entrepreneurs
Amidst all the protests, people are forgetting the value that Silicon Valley creates. Thousands of people are working in tech companies here. These people have created a huge market for other products and services and companies have even sprung up especially to cater to them. SF Gives is another idea whose time has come. The organization funded by tech majors in the area, has created a $12 million fund to give money to local charities.
Tom-Preston Werner is another tech philanthropist. He is the founder of Gravatar, which he sold to Automatic and also a co-founder on another coding website called GitHub. Together with his wife, he has begun a non-profit which supplies $200 Chromebooks to kids who are learning coding at CoderDojo. He says that he wants them to solve problems other than creating image sharing applications. Finally, what we are getting at is, there is always the odd bad apple in the basket, but it does not mean that you should throw away the whole basket.