It’s Time to Talk About Geriatric Rights

I am so happy to see social justice warriors fixate on a topic that isn’t completely stupid for once: Age Discrimination in Silicon Valley!

Here’s the New Yorker. Here are recent reprimands from FT, Wired, NYTimes, and IEEE. Here are some out-of-context quotes that serve as evidence of rampant ageism:

People over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.Vinod Khosla

The guys with kids and mortgages are at a real disadvantage. This is one reason I’d bet on the 25 year old over the 32 year old.Paul Graham

Most of history was built by young people.Naval Ravikant

IEEE posits that the engineer’s half-life of knowledge has fallen from ten years in 1960, to only a few years today. As a result, tech companies must continuously discard and replace their workforce to stay in the game.

That’s a lame excuse. Sure, web developers might have to learn a new Javascript framework every six months, but the fundamentals don’t change. The hottest tech fields – machine learning, blockchain, cybersecurity, cloud stuff – are based on established principles. Deep learning is an application of restricted Boltzmann machines; bitcoin is a combination of p2p networks and cryptography; cybersecurity is about responsible system administration and configuration management; and cloud computing is based on virtualization, which has been in use since the 1960s. Computing paradigms rarely get reinvented; they’re simply applied in different ways.

Sadly, age discrimination doesn’t stir liberal hearts the same way gender discrimination does. Partly because SJWs tend to be young and stupid, but also because ageism is a relatively new phenomenon. Until recently, most people died by 30.

Kidding. The tech industry used to respect their elders. During the dot-com era, VCs weren’t throwing money at hoodie-clad kids. They were investing in older people. That’s right, the founder of Webvan was 48 years old. The Pets.com sock puppet was created by a 43-year-old woman. eToys was founded by Bill Gross of Idealab at age 39. Even when companies were started by young people, investors quickly hired grown-ups to take the helm.

I remember all this because I AM OLD.

The preoccupation with youth might be just a fad. After a few more spectacular implosions like Theranos and Quixey and Jawbone and Quirky, investors might want to stack their portfolio companies with adults again. Khosla may be correct in stating that old people don’t have new ideas, but any VC can tell you that ideas are a dime a dozen — it’s all about execution. So there might be hope for us old folk yet.

2 thoughts on “It’s Time to Talk About Geriatric Rights

  1. You think you’re old, Elaine? You should visit Palm Beach. As they say down here….”I used to think I was old and rich. Then I moved to Palm Beach and found out I was neither.”

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