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Silicon Valley's Loony Cheerleading Culture Is Out of Control

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,4 days | from the oh-the-irony dept.

Businesses 175

Nerval's Lobster writes "Kernel editor-in-chief and noted firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos swings away at Silicon Valley's current startup culture, noting that it's resulted in herds of wannabe founders and startup groupies who don't exactly have a track record of starting successful companies or even producing solid code. 'Though they produce little of value, they are the naive soft power behind aggressive capitalist machines in Silicon Valley: the trend-setting vanguard of the global Web and mobile industries,' he writes. 'We should be very wary indeed of these vacuous cheerleaders whose vague waffle about the transformational potential of photo-sharing apps is more sinister and Orwellian than anything dreamt up by a dictator.' How long can such a culture continue before it dries up, and the whole tech-investment cycle begins anew?"

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Parasites (2, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696645)

A workers government will sweep out this filth. For a Soviet America!

Re:Parasites (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696913)

Why hasn't your account been closed yet? Also: kill yourself.

Re:Parasites (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696963)

A workers paradise awaits my friend, come on lets run, just watch out you don't trip over the mountain of skullz. GO BO, he's the first step to paradise.

Re:Parasites (1)

plopez (54068) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697827)

Yes! We must deregulate! A worker's paradise awaits!

someone's gotta start the show (5, Insightful)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696651)

While the content being generated by these startups may be vacuous, there is at least the spark of new ideas (in some cases) or tangental thought that leads to other ideas. Someone else does the real legwork if it's a good spark, if these small startups can only talk the talk. Contrast the want-to-do's with the Microsoft archtype of staying safe and not innovating or thinking fresh.

There is some value to the cheerleading, even if it's just to provide grain for others to mill.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696767)

MS innovates, just slowly. I wish more of these [microsoft.com] guys ideas got turned into products each year, if they did MS probably wouldn't have the reputation they do of a stoggy business only company.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697389)

In fact, the MS Research office does really awesome stuff.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697595)

In fact, the MS Research office does really awesome stuff.

But few of those ideas make it into products. I have heard MS Research described as "the graveyard of great ideas."

Re: someone's gotta start the show (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697795)

sounds like xerox parc...

Re:someone's gotta start the show (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698389)

Exactly, look at the dual screen tablet they had, courier I think? You can have the greatest idea on the planet and if you do fuck all with it....what good was it?

As far as MSFT not innovating, oh they do, its just ruined, half assed, and piss poor thanks to the legions of PHBs that have to get their 2c in. I mean who can look at the piss awful art school drop out mess that is Windows 8x and not realize it was designed by committee? Even the most basic rules of UI convention like control (user should feel they are in control of the OS, not feel helpless), conveyance (user should have enough visual clues and information they can figure out how to do basic tasks), continuity (user should consistently get the same result from the same action) simply do not exist in Win 8, the user feels lost and helpless as there is ZERO information given. How does a user find out there is a "charms bar", or as I call it the "Random in your face" bar? Is there a balloon? Pop up? Something? Nope they have to trip over it by accident. Not that they will be happy when they DO trip over it because they soon find because a touchpad just gives indications of movement and NOT position like a tablet the stupid OS treats ANY fast movement as a swipe gesture and cockblocks you with that damned charms bar.

Hell I could go on all damned day listing the problems with Win 8 but I'll end with a little anecdote, my dad. My dad is about the most bog standard Windows user that has ever drawn breath, he chats, uses FB, does his Quickbooks, watches movies, completely bog standard stuff here. he needed a new laptop so after doing a little research I found one that was really nice, light, core i3, plenty of HDD space and memory, and most importantly had drivers for Win 7 so if dad didn't like Win 8 I could put on Win 7 easily. I decided to use this as a test of Win 8 and simply handed it to my dad, just as if he bought it himself and it showed up at his house. Now i didn't do ANYTHING to sour him on Win 8 or Metro, in fact i had actually wanted Win 8 to succeed as my dad has poor eyesight and I thought the large tiles might be easier to use.

So how did it go? Less than an hour into the experiment dad wanted me to, and I quote "Take this piece of garbage and run over it with my truck". BTW he was DEADLY serious, Windows 8 pissed him off so much he was willing to gladly write off his new $500 laptop to see Windows 8 destroyed. So I took it home and after a night of hacking the registry and adding third party shells and generic touchpad drivers so i could kill that uncharming charms bar he is happy...with an OS that looks and acts 100% like Windows 7.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44698459)

You said you made sure it had windows 7 drivers, why didn't you just install windows 7 and have a good laptop in about an hour instead of spending "a night of hacking the registry"?

Re:someone's gotta start the show (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697799)

Agreed, Danah Boyd is a favorite of mine. I wish she could take over MS.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697505)

First, let me just say... when I saw "cheerleading" in the title, like most people, I just clicked the link to see pictures of nerdy girls with pom poms.... and let me say, it was a grave disappointment. Instead we get some hyperbole about a guy who equates failed business-types trying to hawk their latest get rich scheme as equal to that of mass murderers and warlords, and some half-assed rant about the power of picture sharing.

I applaud your efforts to turn what is effectively a king sized bitch fest by a reporter who feels that these guys' failures are still better than his greatest successes, and wonders why people with real talent can't get ahead... and turned it into something that was actually marginally interesting to read. Bravo!

Now... to hell with "soft power" and whinging about people wasting money... get me some nerdy cheerleaders Slashdot!

Re:someone's gotta start the show (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44698211)

MS research is there to stake claim to ideas and then not produce them. It's an important part of the "maintaining the status quo" agenda that allows them to milk the Windows and Office franchises.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (5, Insightful)

stevew (4845) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696853)

Being a 30+year observer/survivor of Silicon Valley (and having gone through 3 start-ups) I have to ask - how is this any worse than now that it was during the Dot Com silliness?

For every roughly 10 companies started in the valley - 9 fail. Nothing new about that! It was that way before I got here!

New ideas are vital to the success of the place. Often they are bone-headed ideas? (How do you make money by giving things away for free - the common denominator in the Dot-Com era - as an example!) Others are obvious business models - Gee I think I'll build an on-line auction site (Ebay!) All have been tried - some failed and some soared.

Point is - this is just the normal rough-and-tumbel of Silicon Valley. The author needs to get over himself!

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2)

freeze128 (544774) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696997)

Maybe that's the point. Silicon Valley - 90% failure for decades. Then why do they keep up the hype? What makes a startup in Silicon Valley better than one in Iowa?

Re:someone's gotta start the show (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697109)

You and your workers get to live in the Silicon Valley instead of in Iowa.

Once upon a time this was a good thing. And to some people, it's still worth it, despite the astonishing increase in the cost of living in the Bay Area between once upon a time and now.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697445)

The place is a shit hole. Literally. There are holes full of shit. Between the leather crowd and the homeless, the stench is unbearable.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (1)

bberens (965711) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698311)

Yeah, and New York smells like urine. Perhaps there are other qualities about these places that attract people.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698307)

Having lived there, I don't see it. To me it's a self-supporting cycle: people want to live there because all the cool companies are there, the cool companies are there because technical people live there.

I think I'd be fine with Iowa, or better: Montana. It's beautiful, and there are seasons! But alas, we're seeing fewer tech hubs not more.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44698397)

You and your workers get to live in the Silicon Valley instead of in Iowa.

Not necessarily a positive, honestly. Silicon Valley is a shitpile. Iowa is largely rural farm country, but Des Moines is a relatively nice mid-size city, cost of living is dirt cheap, has more culture than most slashdotters probably care about, and there's tons of outdoorsy shit to do there, if that's your thing, too.

Not everybody wants to live in a fucking 5x5 studio "closet" for $2000 a month. For my money, I'd rather take a pay cut and live well in a place like Iowa than work myself into an early grave barely eking out a living in Silicon Valley.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697751)

However, if you look at even successful IT companies, well established ones, you'll find that 90% of their individual projects fail (many fail to even make it to mark it, some flop once they're there). If the startup is focussed on one single thing, then its failure rate is just the same as any other company's, it's just that the whole company fails when that single product/service fails.

I guess I should be happy that I'm at about 2/15 success rate, it's just a shame that the technically better products weren't the ones that were a hit in the market.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44698249)

What makes a startup in Silicon Valley better than one in Iowa?

The logistics of getting acquired or partnering with the large companies in the valley. Acquihiring only works if the new employees are close to the mother ship.

Also, proximity matters for other reasons. One of the startups I worked for was acquired as a direct result of an overheard conversation at Starbucks. Without that conversation, the purchasing company would have never known we existed.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697237)

Back in the 1990's it was always "citation needed" to many people offering insights into encryption or security questions.
The brand of made in the USA is now connected to poor encryption, many forms of gov oversight and tight internal security laws.
A generation is now aware of the political and legal connections needed to soar beyond just skills, friends and cash.
It will be fun to see any changes. Coding next gen drones and helping the surveillance contractors could make money?

Re:someone's gotta start the show (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698355)

Coding next gen drones

Lotta that going on 'cross the bay in Bezerkeley...

Re:someone's gotta start the show (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697539)

Being a 30+year observer/survivor of Silicon Valley (and having gone through 3 start-ups) I have to ask - how is this any worse than now that it was during the Dot Com silliness?

For every roughly 10 companies started in the valley - 9 fail. Nothing new about that!

Of small business entrepreneurial ventures, 9 out of 10 will fail, so that's not a revelation or admission of any sort. I think the real crux here is that the rate in the valley is more like 99 out of 100 will fail, and even though that sounds bad it's still not the actual problem; the problem is that the 1 that "makes it" is a bullshit platform like Instagram and the 99 that fail include actual valuable technologies like medical industry interop tools and the like.

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698043)

Perhaps the problem is people like you? Instagram is for the masses, medical industry interop tools are not. It's all about size of the potential customer base to collect valuable data to sell. It has nothing to do with whether the programs have any 'use' but whether the programs can attract users as data points. Ever hear of a venture capitalist looking to make the world a better place instead of making money?

Re:someone's gotta start the show (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697657)

Nothing new about that!
...as an example!
(Ebay!)
The author needs to get over himself!

I have something to add!

You might have a point in there, somewhere!

But it's tainted! All the excitement! Nauseous!

You could be a useless cheerleader too! Have you thought about that?!?!

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697895)

I think that much of the 90% failure rate has to be blamed on the venture firms, which are very reluctant to invest in any idea that isn't the 10th clone of an already highly visible and possibly successful idea. If you make the 100th photo sharing app with geotagging and integration with Facebook and it looks like it has a clean interface, you can probably find an investor. If you come up with a truly new concept you'll be met with blank stares and FUD based on the lack of a proven market.

Meaning (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698037)

Point is - this is just the normal rough-and-tumbel of Silicon Valley. The author needs to get over himself!

Meaning: who cares, as long as we get our beaks wet? Is it pointless? Yup! Is it bordering on a pyramid scheme? Yup! Should we change it? Hell no! (CA-CHING!!).

Re:someone's gotta start the show (2)

mcrbids (148650) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698055)

The whole point of start ups is that they cost very little to try. Any bonehead with a few thousand bucks, a commodity education, and a couch near a microwave and at least 15 amps of power can create a start up. Since 90% of publicly announced start ups fail, you can be sure that plenty of boneheads have gone this route successfully.

But even that 90% figure hides plenty. I have run a number of "technology previews" in order to try ideas out that were never announced. For example, I recently wrote a web service that linked with the youtube and a smart phone to automatically link training videos in context to written curricula. This allows me to enter content online and link to videos generated in real time without any necessary editing, linking, or cross-indexing. I'm pretty sure I could turn this into some sort of crowd-sourced open training thingie, but I never worked up a business plan.

Does that count as a start up? I know it has never been announced as such, and it probably should count as a failure because it never went anywhere... so what's the real number? 99% failure? 99.999% failure?

Who cares? In this random morass of ideological soup and one-off ideas emerges the occasional hit. And the one hit in 10/100/1000 really doesn't need to be that large in order to offset all the failures.

As a start up kind of guy myself, I did about a half dozen start up ideas, to various stages of completion, one of which was *barely* profitable before I found one that got bite in the marketplace. It took just two years of struggling before my winner emerged. Now, I'm a partner in a small, obscure, B2B software company about the size of Reddit - 25 staff built up over 10 years, and a very comfortable living.

I'm no Billionaire, and I have no dream of changing the world forever, just making life a little better for our hundreds of clients.

Original Author's article was annoying: the type of vaguely critical article written by somebody who rates himself based on the number of obscure words chosen from the thesaurus to describe "omg they are so lame".

Re:someone's gotta start the show (1)

Jawnn (445279) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697921)

One word... pets.com.
OK, two more... sock puppet. 'Nuff said.

Answer to your question (5, Insightful)

Dishwasha (125561) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696653)

How long can such a culture continue before it dries up, and the whole tech-investment cycle begins anew?

As long as people with money keep getting sucked in by it

Re:Answer to your question (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697367)

And the corollary: as long as as the payoffs outweigh the risks. An angel investor at a small startup might have a 10% stake for a few hundred thousand, even if there's only a 1:100 chance of the company being snatched up for $500 million the angel investor comes out on top. The huge payoffs are what make the high risk companies possible in the first place, most of them will fail but a few won't.

Dictator (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696671)

"the transformational potential of photo-sharing apps is more sinister and Orwellian than anything dreamt up by a dictator."

Flickr is worse than Hitler? What?

Re:Dictator (1)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696709)

Flickr's overlords that changde the UI to caca, yes. ;-)

Re:Dictator (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696761)

"the transformational potential of photo-sharing apps is more sinister and Orwellian than anything dreamt up by a dictator."

Flickr is worse than Hitler? What?

No, Milo's prose is worse than a triple shot cappuccino addled New York Times intern.

Sounds like somebody got a hold of something too strong at Burning Man. Slow down guy, it's not worth getting that worked up about stuff like this.

Re:Dictator (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696823)

Milo is such a Herbert.

Re:Dictator (3, Insightful)

mjwalshe (1680392) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696841)

Well its the old rant - English majors who get upset when the status quo looks like it might being moving slightly to valuing technical skills.

Re:Dictator (5, Insightful)

EricTheGreen (223110) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697387)

I would agree Milo is laying it on waaaaay too heavy here....but, honestly, have you met the people he's describing? "Evangelists", "Community Developers", "Mentors", "Facilitators" and their ilk? They have no technical skills to value.

Re:Dictator (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697025)

Oh I like him, it's all true what he said and now I'm reading his previous article on Ballmer. A contrarian and dabbling misanthrope a florid prose which wastes little time with tripe - he's a journalist after my own heart.

Re:Dictator (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697289)

Even though I agree in spirit with some of the sentiments, I found it very hard to comment on the article, because it was so full hyperbole. There was almost nothing to respond to. The writer was firing shotgun shells at his own windmills. It's a shame that so much passion was not ironed or focused into a more substantial communication.

Re:Dictator (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696779)

(If he'd had a modern PR team, he'd have branded himself Hitlr)

Re: Dictator (1)

AvitarX (172628) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696809)

No, they said more Orwellian, though I don't really think that's true either. If anything it's kafkaesque, but not really.

Re:Dictator (3, Funny)

chill (34294) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696819)

I think someone is upset at the changes Yahoo is doing now that they have Tumblr. All of his llama porn was de-indexed.

Oh No's! (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696679)

Wow, judgmental much? People who may not have talent are actively looking for money, investing time & dedication in getting expertise... the horror!

Is this really any different... (4, Insightful)

babymac (312364) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696689)

than the attitudes prevalent prior to the dot com bubble (and subsequent bust) in the late 1990s? All of that money being poured into companies with little to no revenue and no solid plans to generate revenue. It blew my mind at the time.

Re:Is this really any different... (1)

kwerle (39371) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696759)

Nope. It's just about the same.

The answer is that it can last maybe 7 years if folks haven't learned anything. Less if they have.

Re:Is this really any different... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696825)

No, we are experiencing a tech bubble very similar to the 90s. It will pop just the same.

Re:Is this really any different... (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696987)

No it's the same thing over and over again. That old saying about failing to learn history comes to mind. What I see is investors looking for the "next big" boom. Tech, Housing, Bonds, HFC. It's about trying take short cuts and jump in early as opposed to real investing.

Re:Is this really any different... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697079)

We now as consumers have the RAM, CPU, GPU, codecs, wider skills with programming languages, webcams, networking, OS, resolution, displays and faster networking.
In theory a lot of the older visions are now not so hard or expensive on desktop computers.
Sadly with the push to video game consoles, the cloud, a generation only knowing endless wars and smart phones we are seeing a dumbing down of raw power and any real tech growth.
Poverty as noted is also catching up fast vs the predictable ~~1990's hardware/software upgrade cycle.
For the next gen, we will need cheap optical to more US homes so average coders with great ideas can explore with their bandwidth outside the expensive educational or limited library setting.
If that fails the US is left with a small trust fund or scholarship elite selling to itself or cleared to sell to gov agencies.

Hey, don't knock it! (4, Funny)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696691)

As someone who has optioned sub-rentals on a lot of garages in Silicon Valley, I can't complain. Nothing attracts VC money like showing off how you're young, hip, and working in a garage in Silicon Valley!

Or Maybe... (1)

sporkbender (986804) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696693)

programming jobs have gone overseas, leaving fewer to programmer jobs to go to after college. AND if your college didn't teach you exactly the right languages, or enough of them, no one will hire you because they don't have the brains to do it even if you can. I'm not a bitter little cheerleader geek groupie. Not At All. --wasn't there already a story about females in tech? talking about it to death, doesn't mean girls are going to flock to the keyboard...

Re:Or Maybe... (2)

MechanicJay (1206650) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697547)

Of course there is always the view that the language you "learn" with in school is largely irrelevant, learning how to develop software and solve problems is the skill. The underlying concepts are what's important, not that you understand the specific syntax of the language -- My undergrad program was taught *entirely* in Java -- I haven’t written a single line of Java code since graduation.

Re:Or Maybe... (1)

bandy (99800) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698015)

wasn't there already a story about females in tech?

Yesterday's (Monday's?) story about whether Grace Hopper could get hired in today's SV.

Re:Or Maybe... (1)

hackula (2596247) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698099)

This has been the opposite experience of me and just about every programmer I know. It is trivial to get a job these days as a programmer. If you do not know any of the hip languages, then learn one over the course of a month on your weekends. A competent programmer in XYZ obscure language from the 80s can pick up Rails or .Net well enough to get through an interview in no time.

Meh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696697)

Here I thought this was going to be about technology hipsterism - you know, the usual, "I use X, you've probably never heard of it (because it was a stupid idea ten years ago and still is)..."

Instead, it's a cleverly disguised whine about the fact that technological advancement renders horse'n buggy line workers irrelevant.

No different than any other "business" culture. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696699)

What we're seeing here is that Silicon Valley has become no different than any other business/industry group. Flash, buzzwords, bullshit, business lunches, golf - People that are good at appearances rule in the business community, mostly to the harm of everyone else.

companies purchased for developers, not products (1)

peter303 (12292) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696701)

My nephew has gone through two of those buyouts. The purchasing company abandons the previous product and puts the developers to work on their pressing needs. At least he gets a nice purchase bonus out of it. But I would be a little psyched out after writing years of stuff with no one ever using it. At my company I find that having customers wanting to buy and use your stuff to be a psychic reward.

I'm cooloer than you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696705)

Another hipster claiming what other people are doing isn't cool any more, because they know what's cool. *yawn* Don't waste your time.

Nothing new (1)

djupedal (584558) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696711)

Simply describes how it's always been - cheerleaders create buzz; buzz creates interest; interest creates potential; potential creates investing - wash, rinse, repeat.

Good, bad or otherwise, it's the core of the valley.

Re:Nothing new (2)

JeanCroix (99825) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696865)

You forget the "crash" step.

They always exist (5, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696741)

In every boom there are con men who see piles of cash and people desperate to invest it. It has always annoyed me when these guys skip in from low-integrity industries like property development, come up with an idea that might even be impossible: "cluster smartphones into supercomputers for small business", round up millions of dollars, have the biggest booths at the local tech conferences, hire up a bunch of dillweeds, rent A+ locations, appear in dozens of self promoting articles "Top 40 under 40", drive around in $90,000 leased cars, and then flame out in a huge way. The only good thing is that when the bankruptcy people liquidate their stuff the stacks of unopened Aeron chairs and the Alienware computers go really cheap.

The massive downside is that they give a black eye to, or outbid, anyone with a valid product trying to raise money, hire developers, and rent locations.

Re:They always exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696857)

The only good thing is that when the bankruptcy people liquidate their stuff the stacks of unopened Aeron chairs and the Alienware computers go really cheap.

The massive downside is that they give a black eye to, or outbid, anyone with a valid product trying to raise money, hire developers, and rent locations.

You can keep the comfy chairs and uber-desktops if it means the right businesses can flourish. As it stands, the barrier to entry isn't a good idea, it's a flashy idea. If it weren't for idiotic investment to back up flashy ideas, the good idea companies with actual value to their products would be growing, and not bullshit like Instagram.

reads like (1, Insightful)

cp5i6 (544080) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696747)

someone's a hater

a cycle like this each decade (2)

peter303 (12292) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696815)

Dot.com 1.0 in the 1990s. A.I. and Pen computing in the 1980s. COBOL in the 1960s.
It reaches this point when pundents say "eveyone should be a programmer". "It should be taught to 8 year olds and English majors." I've even heard some politicians say this in the last year. Not everyone has the temperment, motivation, special creativity to be a good programmer.
The field turns into a bubble, it collapses and compuer science departments shrink. Inevitable.

Oh they don't do it for the money! (5, Interesting)

korbulon (2792438) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696839)

They do it because it's hot, new, cool, chic, hip, swag, fly, swank, vogue, and gosh-darnit a whole lotta fun!

The real legacy of Steve Jobs was to engender feelings of inadequacy in a whole generation of tech bosses. So instead of solid, maybe a little boring, mostly behind-the-scenes approach to technological development, we have everyone and their grandmother trying to emulate the once great king of consumer tech (long live the king!) with dramatic unveiling ceremonies that remind one more of a pop concert than a product release. Frankly, in some cases it's a little embarrassing, because not everyone can pull it off. In fact most people can't. So don't do it because you suck at it. I'm also looking at you, TED.

When investors realize that new =/= good (and in most cases = shit), then we might finally witness the inevitable implosion and with any luck a healthier restructuring of the tech industry. But until then, thundercats ho!

If you can beat them join them... (1)

Dareth (47614) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696849)

As long as someone is willing to give/loan them money they will continue.

If you can beat them join them. If you can develop a better idea/product go get some of that money and do it. I'm not an entrepreneur so I will continue to work my day job. There are plenty of "Rags to Riches" stories because you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. How many "Upper Middle Class to Riches" stories do you hear where someone risked everything they spent a lifetime earning for a small shot at super riches?

I got a get rich quick scheme too. I will most likely buy a lottery ticket for the 100+ million drawing tonight. Yeah I most probably will not win. But $2 gets me an entry into the "What if I win" game and I consider it entertainment. Even if I do not win, I get a better idea of what I might like to do with money and most of that is still achievable on an descent income if not "instantly".

If the startups are bad, the VCs are worse (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696879)

If these "cheerleaders" are so bad at their pitch, content, leadership and ideas why are the venture capitalists so eager to throw money at them? I realise it's a numbers game: that 999 will fail, 1 will succeed and 1 in 1000 of those successes will be the next Facebook. However all that the money people would need to do is get anyone with 6+ months of IT to review these startups' technical plans and they could probably cut their own failure rate to a quarter.

Incoherent Rant (1)

Luthair (847766) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696887)

While I agree that the startup culture of silicon valley provides very little of value, the article is a rambling incoherent rant seemingly conflating a variety topics the author happens to dislike.

Re:Incoherent Rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696969)

Yea. This was a poor article. Slashdot seems to publish crap. Needed a few rounds with an actual editor or at least a reread by the author.

As a 20 year resident and startup guy in the Bay Area I agree with much of what the author says, but he doesn't explain it well.

Re:Incoherent Rant (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697337)

A lot seemed to be about that post-college or entering an adult existence. The boardroom or two part-time jobs await unless a 'start up' can be inspired by enjoying life and getting funding.

Ad hominem (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696901)

The writer spends several paragraphs disparaging people's taste in music, culture, and furnature.

They are fake: their clothes are fake, the music they listen to is fake, their sneaker brands are fake.

There is one or two points of truth in the rant. But in general it is designed to make the reader feal superior to other people.

Re:Ad hominem (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44698335)

There is one or two points of truth in the rant. But in general it is designed to make the author feal superior to other people.

There. FTFY.

I hate the startup "culture" (5, Interesting)

hsmith (818216) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696921)

I am "bootstrapping" my latest venture and we are Doing quite well. But, I simply can't stand to talk to other startups. It is always "how much money we raised" or "how much are you raising" - the conversations never are about how much cash you are making and how many paying customers you have.

There is a lot of allure to raising money and a lot of back patting, which is why I just can't stand them.

Re:I hate the startup "culture" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697053)

You're right but you have to be nice so you can drink free booze at their parties.

Re:I hate the startup "culture" (1)

liquidpele (663430) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697853)

What kind of stuff does this "bootstrapping" entail?

Re:I hate the startup "culture" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44698147)

It means the founders are financing the business.

Okay, and? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696933)

Why exactly should I care that stupid people with money are willing to give some to other stupid people without money?

Re:Okay, and? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697305)

Opportunity Cost. Everything is Connected.

A dollar wasted on $foo in Silicon Valley is 0.001 dollars less raise for you in Auckland, Newark or Rome.

Yes, plenty of cheerleading.... (1)

BD (2930827) | 1 year,4 days | (#44696949)

....but also plenty of flat-out shilling.

Half of tech media is/are breathless cheerleader fanboy^H^H^Hpersons, and the other half is/are cynical shills ready to sell whatever half-baked notion the Valley's highest minds have come up with now.

Two things going on in that rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44696973)

1. The author is not a cultural fit. Most of us on this board have been there. He couldn't be "one of them" without putting on a mask. This kind of rant is probably healthier than doing that, since putting on the mask is a form of self hatred. The story of the "popular kid" in highschool who seethes to suppress his inner nerd and commits suicide is kind of a cliche now. He's being true to himself, and that's the first step towards being healthy. The 2nd step is to find some other culture into which he may plug, which obviously isn't evident in an essay like this.

2. Aside from the fact that he isn't part of the culture, and hates it, he offers some valid criticism. Being an outsider makes that possible. You have to cut through the disaffected rant to see it though. I identify somewhat with the author on this level; but I'm more in the "what else can I do?" phase than the "I don't fit in and I hate you all" phase. It's a process. Anyway, his critique boils down to there being a lot of deadwood in the Valley right now.

I don't know of Joe Sixpack is actually alienated that much from the Valley. It depends on what kind of Joe they are, and what blogs you read. Certainly the hardcore conservative/libertarian blogs are alienated from the latest social "smart" phone app culture; but they were probably never really there in the first place. Whether or not your typical pickup-driver or subway strap-hanger is getting tired of it, or is going to start ignoring it remains to be seen. It doesn't look like that based on all the people you see with their heads down, in danger of bumping ito you on the sidewalk...

Oblig Zombo (2)

PHPNerd (1039992) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697115)

Welcome to Zombocom! www.zombo.com [zombo.com]

Isn't this the point of startups? (1)

jandrese (485) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697197)

Young people with an idea and drive but maybe not a lot of experience seem to be the bread and butter of Venture Capital. You can complain all you want that the ideas may not pan out or the inexperienced developers make make a messy system, but that's the nature of the beast. Sometimes they'll have a billion dollar idea and everybody wins. Nobody ever said VC was a low risk business.

Well, duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697247)

Q: "How long can such a culture continue before it dries up, and the whole tech-investment cycle begins anew?"

A: Until the people in the culture stop making $$$money$$$ creating and promulgating that culture.

vacuous cheerleaders whose vague waffle (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697309)

Anyone who actually puts the words "vacuous cheerleaders whose vague waffle" together - sont des mots qui vont tres MAL ensemble - ought to be banned from using the English language any further.

Part of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697327)

A large part of the problem is the very idea of what a "start up" is: A company, funded by venture capitalists, created specifically to be sold after a few years for massive profits, most of which goes back to the venture capitalists...

The focus is too much on "Let's make huge waves and then cash out quick!" and not enough on "Let's actually have a purpose for the company's existence!"

"noted firebrand" (1)

jcr (53032) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697381)

What a polite way of saying "flaming asshole".

Seriously, who pissed in this dude's cornflakes? Did some VC or entrepreneur steal his lover or something?

-jcr

Diverting Capital (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697393)

Here's where venture capitalists play a deleterious role in the process. They don't care about ground-breaking ideas or real vision or even solid business plans with solid revenue models. They care about whether they can turn around their investment in 6 months to a year for some multiple. That's it. That's all they care about. So if right now they feel reasonable certainty that they can unload a photo-sharing site on 2nd round sucke...er, investors, they'll invest. They don't care that there are 100 other such sites out there. They don't care that the founders are 22 years old. They don't care that the business plan is written on a napkin. They care about the flip.

The problem is no one else in the early-stage game understands VCs have that motivation, and only that motivation. They think that when a VC plows money into something that that something must have something going for it. They think it makes the invested-in company real. A million stories about 22-year old founders turning around with that money and blowing it on coke and hookers does not dissuade them of that.

So a lot of the good money that could flow into real entrepreneurs, that is, real people trying to really solve real problems, does not because of the smoke screen thrown up by the VCs and their PR firms. And a great deal of social progress stifles because of it. The real entrepreneurs usually have to literally weave whole cloth out of thin air on what they can beg, borrow, or steal because no capital flows their way.

Once in a blue moon those guys make it through that Dantean hell and produce something world-changing like Apple or Google. But imagine a world where an Apple or Google emerged every 4-6 months. Think of the undiscovered possibilities. Think of the rapidly expanding markets. Think of the jobs, jobs, jobs, that would generate. Think of the benefit to humanity.

I would love to live in that world, wouldn't you?

It's all about posturing (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697529)

In the site/book Stuff White People Like, the article about "Awareness" [stuffwhitepeoplelike.com] summed up much of this mentality:

This belief allows them to feel that sweet self-satisfaction without actually having to solve anything or face any difficult challenges. Because, the only challenge of raising awareness is people not being aware. In a worst case scenario, if you fail someone doesn’t know about the problem. End of story.

Getting clean water consistently in a hell hole like much of Africa is a truly transformative experience for many people. Public sanitation, reliable electricity, etc. Nothing your mobile/web app is doing is as transformative for the world as replicating consistent, basic utilities for all of mankind. It's unsexy work that is more commonly associated with redneck laborers (guys who actually make these systems work) than hipsters.

It's media, stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697577)

These no-technical-value companies are not the traditional technology companies with deep innovations but future interactive content channels of the media empires like Google and Yahoo. Only thing that matters are the ratings. Any technology created in the process is just part of the original content of these channels and production tools for additional content.

Conflicting. (4, Interesting)

gallondr00nk (868673) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697629)

Technology companies have produced remarkably brilliant new opportunities and efficiencies, but they have also raised the specter of lives bled of purpose, of the inhumanity of the new social structures that are emerging. What do we do to keep everyone gainfully occupied when globalization and technological change render the bottom two thirds of society redundant?

This is a point that I always feel gratified reading, and it really cannot be stated often enough. We are reaching a stage where we simply don't need as many people employed as we used to. Instagram was worth $1 billion when it was bought by Facebook, and it had only 13 employees. Could you imagine thirty years ago any business at all being worth that sort of money with a dozen employees?

It isn't just web services though, it's the manufacturing and retail / service sectors too. Even down to those obnoxious self checkout machines in supermarkets, which are costing several people a job while at the same time making the customer do more of the work.

We're already in a position where job creation is lagging population growth. How much worse will it need to get before people actually start discussing this?

(My pet solution is a guaranteed minimum income, enough to allow people to live comfortably with a decent amount of disposable income.)

Re:Conflicting. (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697643)

Could you imagine thirty years ago any business at all being worth that sort of money with a dozen employees?

Actually, since I thought of a couple of examples, make that fifty years!

Did any of you actually read the article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697679)

The prose could be (a lot) better and there are plentiful digs at the culture (or lack thereof) of the people running and populating today's Silicon Valley startups, but fundamentally the article is a Luddite argument against the future that the software industry is making a reality. As software does more and more things, yes, there will be fewer and fewer ways for an average person to be productive, and less and less need for the manufacturing of concrete "things" in the first place. With plentiful digital entertainment and high-speed digital connections everywhere, how much will we need or want to actually leave the house? Will we need much more than basic food, shelter, and the equipment to connect to the world and interact with our digital creations? Will the average person care about trading all of their privacy away for access to the digital world? What the author is arguing against is a world of technical elites that run the technology and most everyone else who doesn't and is therefore of almost no economic value, and against the "Kling-ons" as he puts it as the vanguard of that future technical elite.

Was this article drafted (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697711)

Someone found a thesaurus!

"The artifice of start-up culture is a portent of what is to come."
"At once the zenith of the cult of excessively educated bourgeois bohemians and nadir of a glossy new venture-capital-funded geek culture..."

This reads as a writers masturbatory exercise.

Silicon Valley is unnecessary. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | 1 year,4 days | (#44697747)

I suppose the value in starting a tech company in California is that you're closer to a potentially strong talent pool. But that argument goes out the window when you consider outsourcing or the appeal of H1B visas. Anyone intent on hiring American talent certainly could find it in most places if they look hard enough.

I suppose there's the belief in sharing of ideas and whatnot, but in today's world much of that has been rendered irrelevant by the internet. It's trivial to know what anyone's doing if you keep up with current news. And I'd argue people aren't necessarily coming up with better ideas merely because they've got the same zip code. This isn't some kind of research environment with open discourse and sharing of ideas.

I'm convinced the proximity to Hollywood is a big culprit behind this Silicon Valley stupidity. There's an irrational fixation on name dropping out there. Most people I've come across inevitably start rattling off names of high profile individuals they've met. And I suppose, when you're in the midst of it it's inevitable you will meet these people. But they seem to act like that gives them instant credibility.

They've created this culture that the rest of us is supposed to believe is desirable. And I guess there are a lot of naive individuals who do fall for it. So they end up working in exploitative environments in the hope that they'll get a piece of the pie. Although, I've found that people don't even think that far, often they just want to be part of the in-crowd. They're convinced they're doing the coolest thing ever and management certainly likes to reinforce that belief, but they're really just being taken advantage of.

To be fair, this is a problem that you'll encounter elsewhere in the country, but California in general seems to offer this unique confluence of problems. Anyone with any sense would avoid starting a tech company anywhere in the state.

Re:Silicon Valley is unnecessary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44698085)

So they end up working in exploitative environments in the hope that they'll get a piece of the pie.

This is the reason it's desirable to start a company in Silicon Valley - you get extremely talented, highly motivated, experienced engineers to work for you and all you have to promise them is stock options and they'll work round the clock, sacrificing their happiness and health and family life, just to make their stock options worth something. The "exploitation of the nerds"! We should take our revenge. :)

Just be careful (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,4 days | (#44697975)

I had a good position in a large, solid software company for over 8 years, but last year I was feeling bored of doing the same things for so long, and my thinking was: "well, I live in Silicon Valley so I should give a start-up a chance", so I started looking around. The sheer amount of start-ups out there with grandiose visions of changing the world is insane!

I can absolutely validate some of the comments on this thread as I've seen them myself, but what I really want to emphasize here, is that start-up "CEOs" will lie, and will promise you infinite wealth with no backing whatsoever. It not only about the products, which many times sound good (even if they are just smoke and mirrors), but it's also about their business practices. Many of these companies don't yet have a culture other than "survive and grow", so ethics and even business appropriate behavior is not there. Many times their HR is just an external service and there is no recourse if you have an issue.

I ended up leaving my position, joining the start-up and working my ass off for almost half a year when I realized this was really going nowhere. One day, out of the blue, the CEO called me to his office and said "we need you too leave" just like that. No explanation other than "there is no fit". Later on I realized he was right, I was no fit for their "culture", and I ended up coming back to my former employer, this time in a better role with 20-25% more pay than I had before. But I know I was also lucky. It could have been way worst.

So here are my lessons learned in hopes that this will be useful to anyone out there:
- Do your homework. Research the leadership team, their track record of success or failure as well as each one of their investors.
- Don't trust in anything verbal. Every promise must be clearly in writing
- Negotiate your contract. Never take their "stock contract" that only protects them. Invest in a legal service ahead of time and have your own template.
- Make sure you negotiate your exit as part of the contract. It's like a pre-nuptial agreement. You can't imagine it's going to be useful some day. - When you are evaluating a company, leave your passion, your beliefs and your ideals at the door. It's business. Look at them as a business that will be the source of your livelihood. How viable are they really?

If any of the points above don't click, then leave. Don't take it. There are another hundred of them out there. Most will die but a few will make it. Do everything in your power to choose wisely.

successful startups or solid code (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | 1 year,4 days | (#44698157)

... tell me exactly how these two are in any way related? getting a successful startup seems mostly to be about getting the hype right ;)

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