The rot started when the finance crew took Silicon Valley away from the engineers. By Joel Kotkin.
A huge rift has opened up between the Big Tech elites and everyone else. How did Silicon Valley end up so out of touch?
The initial people in Silicon Valley were engineers. They’ve been replaced by people who are increasingly oriented towards finance and media….
The new tech elite don’t (and can’t) actually do tech — Elon Musk is one of the last exceptions:
The people running tech now didn’t start as designers of silicon chips or running factories. They came up with MBAs and they live in an ephemeral universe where they basically just manipulate symbols. That’s who runs Silicon Valley today.
They have also adopted attitudes that are not oriented towards merit. If you go to Silicon Valley Bank, so much of its attention was on supporting transgenderism, supporting gay rights, supporting women’s rights, supporting environmental companies — it was more interested in virtue-signalling than in making money.
They don’t mix with ordinary Americans:
The other important thing is that the old industrial companies in Silicon Valley, such as Hewlett-Packard, were very cognizant of the importance of their workforce. … Executives were dependent on the people on the factory floor. The grunts were important.
But if you’re a social-media company, there are no grunts. You will hire grunts to do your catering, but that’s about it. You don’t have a bunch of high-school graduates who may be very good at doing one particular thing — you don’t need those people anymore. So they don’t even have any contact with the vast majority of the population. Early 20th-century business magnates like Andrew Carnegie or Henry Ford, bad as they were, at least had to think about the people on the line, because they made their products.
Today, the people who make the products are either in Bangalore or are H-1B visa holders. Over 70 per cent of the tech workforce in Silicon Valley are not even American citizens. That was not the case before. There were always immigrants and they played a great role, but it was not like today. …
They feel no loyalty to America:
The tech elites are very out of touch with the country they’re in. They feel very little loyalty to it. Some of the biggest backers of China are Silicon Valley companies. Apple has already signed an agreement to share its computer technology with China and to start buying some of its chips from China.
If you read things from people at Apple and other tech companies, they may think it’s nicer to live in Silicon Valley than in China. But I don’t think they see the future being here. They feel no visceral connection to the culture of the vast majority of America. That’s at the root of a lot of this. …
The new tech elite prevent anyone else climbing the greasy poll to challenge them — close down the meritocracy:
The great thing about America, for all our many problems, is the idea of aspiration, the idea that somebody can come from nowhere and become someone and can build a good life and own a house. That’s not the trajectory in Silicon Valley anymore. And even worse, the tech elites support policies that make it impossible for anybody who isn’t in the privileged classes to ever move upwards.
Not only are they not providing opportunities, they’re also trying to squash opportunities for other people. They may say they’re doing it in the name of saving the planet or in the name of ‘equity’, or whatever reason they want to give you.
But the reality is that Silicon Valley has become a centre of almost everything that is now assaulting the middle and working classes in the West.
It was better when engineers ran the place. At least they could think, and were loyal to their fellow citizens. (I know, because I used to work there, in the late 1980s.)