Posted by Tom Foremski - August 7, 2014
There's a lot of backlash out there around Silicon Valley and I think it's largely because of the hypocrisy in techies claiming to be changing the world yet they can't change anything in the very places where they live.
Silicon Valley cities and schools face the same problems and high drop out rates that others face around the nation. What's the point of communities living with tech companies if there's little benefit? Twitter demands huge tax relief in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Silicon Valley's halitosis of hypocrisy stinks and it is becoming a laughing stock. Mike Judge's "Silicon Valley" on HBO is very funny -- because it's very true.
Joel Stein at Businessweek comes to the defense of Silicon Valley and its predominately male techies in this month's cover story. However, he ends up reinforcing many negative perceptions of Silicon Valley rather than changing them. Here are some extracts:
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Ron Gutman, 41, is even more serious about making the world a better place. "In the interview, if they don't talk about wanting to do good and make a difference, we don't hire them. No matter how good they are, that's the end of the interview process," he says. He puts down his iced green tea and walks to the front of the upstairs half of his office, in front of the wooden stand-up desk, the Buddha statue, and potted flowers.
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The problem, McElroy says, is that those big donations--and many tech companies--have a limited benefit in the Bay Area. "They're still disconnected from the local," she says. "It's about changing the people's lives far away, which is connected to this neocolonialism. There isn't much awareness of the impact their businesses are having here. Google and Apple are offshoring money and exploiting people elsewhere."
. . .
"When you have people doing things that seem inconsequential, that aren't changing the world as they claim... people really hate that. That's a special kind of arrogance," says Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator.
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Silicon Valley has its own politics, too. Call it liberalitarian. The fact that liberal and libertarian positions sometimes conflict--smaller government and gun control, helping the poor, deregulating industries--doesn't bother most, since they think about politics so rarely.
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Technology entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly male, and fewer women than ever are entering the field. In 2012, 18 percent of computer science majors were female; in 1985 it was 37 percent.