Ever read an article that makes you a bit nauseated, but mostly just angry? Here’s a gem on the millionaires of Silicon Valley. Dave Winer sums this one up pretty damn well:
You might as well live somewhere else and create, the network effect of being in the valley is negative. At least it was when I left, in 2003. It seems from the Times article that it’s getting worse. It’s great to see people on the east coast getting the message. Don’t live in the shadow of this place. There’s nothing there but people trying to make money, without a good idea why.
I’m no millionaire. I have no qualms against those who have made their money, be it by luck or by skill. But I have no patience – read NONE – for people who live not only better than 99.5 percent of Americans, but better than the top 99.999% of ALL HUMANS (oh, and better than 99.99999% of all humans who have ever lived), and have the audacity to complain about anything (and in public!).
“I know people looking in from the outside will ask why someone like me keeps working so hard,” Mr. Steger says. “But a few million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Maybe in the ’70s, a few million bucks meant ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ or Richie Rich living in a big house with a butler. But not anymore.”
It’s these same people that are setting these terrible role models for recent college grads who think they can come out of school, go start some company with a friend or two, and make a few quick million. Nobody seems to want to work anymore, just instantly be rich. And then to complain about it? No thanks.
note: I’ve really edited and re-edited this piece a few dozen times, it’s gotten me that riled up. I can’t tell if this is the best version or not, but it’s probably the most to-the-point.
updated: after a few hours sleep (two red-eyes in three days, nuff said) and reading Mark’s thoughts I decided to add one more comment: It is disappointing that the NYT article is so one-sided in its decision to portray rich SV folks in such a shallow light. Not that what they wrote isn’t true, and not that I feel any differently. I just have a hunch there are at least a few people reading that piece, feeling frustrated that their charitable efforts, good work ethics, family values, etc are being ignored. Unfortunately, I think the article was all-too-easy to write and the story they tell was all-too-easy to substantiate.
Maybe that piece (and mine, Winer’s, etc) can encourage someone else to go dig in to find if the bad really does outweigh the good? That’d be the ultimate “win” from all this. Until that happens however, I think the rant stands.
I am posting this comment from India (I visit frequently). The article just feels so different when you read it from here. I had the sudden epiphany – I live in the valley, but I realize I am not *of* the valley any more.
Needless to say, you are absolutely right. How does a value system get so distorted, I could never understand.
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Nice rant, Jeremy! 🙂
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What is really interesting is if you watch the accompanying video. One part shows his coworker laughing at how he’s the first one in, and the last one to leave, and a different section shows him saying how important spending time with his family is. Give me a brake! He also mentions that he’s worried he might have to pay $500,000 for a kidney operation for his kid. Well, what about insurance? Hello?
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This reminds me of major sports figures. Mostly football players, who make 30 million dollar salaries and then complain that they need a raise cause they can’t pay their bills. WTF. It’s why I don’t watch major sports.
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I like what de Kooning said about wealth, “The trouble with being poor is it takes up all your time.”
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strange. i was interviewed by Gary for the article, and was mentioned in a brief sidebar piece to the main article.
in my discussion with him, most of it was focused on how people here were NOT about the money, but were rather about doing something special and most of the time giving up more cash & security to take risks on building startups. at least, that was what my personal feelings / story were about. i left eBay after 3 years at PayPal, and gave up a good bit of in-the-money stock options and a decent salary in exchange for another startup with unknown prospects & half my former salary (in fact, i even invested in the same startup as well).
while i don’t have an opinion on the folks Gary chose to profile in the main piece, it was a bit surprising that the article spent more time discussing people chasing dollars, as opposed to what i usually see out here — giving up dollars, to chase the chance for a startup dream.
– dave ‘still not a millionaire’ mcclure
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I hear what you’re saying. At first I was outraged just at the general consciousness that drives people to work to exhaustion instead of embracing life and enjoying their accomplishments. Why work 70 hours a week when you have enough money to spend that extra time with your family and do other things?
Sadly, these people are caught up in the rat race. And they’re not the only ones. There are plenty of people in New York, L.A., Chicago, Paris (you name a big city) who life that kind of life. Its a sad life.
With regards to your update. Don’t blame the New York Times. One-sided or not, you know there are plenty of people who drive themselves to exhaustion because $5 million in the bank isn’t enough. They need to pay that seven figure mortgage. They want that new Mercedes. They can’t stand not being a ‘somebody’ in their world. The individuals represented may have gotten a bad rap. Wouldn’t be the first time and it definitely won’t be the last. The ideas and attitudes presented in the article are all too common in today’s society.
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Peoples are never satisfied. Got millions and still complain. Give me some money. I need it bad.