Stuff You Can’t Say in Silicon Valley

Tim Ferriss recently left Silicon Valley, citing liberal McCarthyism as one of the catalysts for his departure.

People seem awfully puzzled that there are things you can’t say in Silicon Valley. I can’t tell if these people are willfully ignorant, or if their heads are jammed so far up their asses that they can’t conjure a single controversial idea.

Here, I’ll help you guys out.

Stuff You Can’t Say

  • It’s okay to support Trump.
    We agree that people shouldn’t be fired for their political views, but this isn’t a disagreement on tax policy, this is advocating hatred and violence.Ellen Pao, after her company severed ties with Y Combinator for refusing to fire Peter Thiel
  • Diversity of thought is more important than diversity of skin color.
    Apple diversity head Denise Young Smith apologizes for controversial choice of words —Techcrunch, Oct 13 2017
  • Silicon Valley uses H-1B visas to lower wages and crowd out American minorities.
  • If San Francisco residents really believed that sea levels were rising, they’d have all sold their homes by now.
  • “The distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech…”
    Google Fires Author of Divisive Memo on Gender Differences —Bloomberg, Aug 7 2017
  • The only way to achieve equality is by hatchet, axe, and saw…

Parker Thompson raises a valid point: Why is it so hard for Tim Ferriss to speak his mind? After all, I just spouted a bunch of crimethink, and I’m but a lowly peon. Tim is independently wealthy; the worst that could happen to him is he loses some Twitter followers, or maybe Silicon Valley’s squawking heads call on tech leaders to cut ties with him.

We tend to toss these threats around lightly, but remember — rich investors have really fragile egos. Their world revolves around thinking about what the world thinks of them. Self-absorption is one of the key factors to success around here. Why do you think tech leaders spend so much time on Twitter? Heck, why do you think Parker Thompson is virtue-signaling so hard right now? These guys aren’t worried about being persecuted; they’re worried about being ignored. Just like Bill Gross, these people are empty narcissists on a neurotic quest for love. That’s another thing you can’t say in Silicon Valley.

See Also:
What You Can’t Say –Paul Graham

Silicon Valley is the new Fannie Mae

Tim Draper has it rough
Tim Draper has it rough

VCs have a tough job. They have to turn a giant pile of money into more money. However, they are not allowed to do it the sensible way, which is to invest in European index funds1. They have to do it by investing in half-baked ideas dreamt up by kids in a garage.

Some time ago, banks had a similarly tough job. They had to turn money into more money, and they had to do it by lending it to people to buy houses. The customers would pay back the loan plus interest. A decade ago, interest rates were unusually low, and this cut the banks’ profits. They had to make more home loans than ever before to get the same returns.

But there were only so many people out there who wanted to buy houses. There were only so many people who deserved to buy houses.

The banks did what any smart business would do: They invested in marketing. Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest provider of mortgages, created the term “American Dream” and defined it as owning a house with a white picket fence and a kidney-shaped pool. The American Dream is a manufactured marketing scam to convince more people to buy houses.

Own the American Dream! Only $4999/month for the next 3 decades. Plus shipping and handling.
Own the American Dream! Only $4999/month for the next 3 decades. Plus shipping and handling.

After the financial crisis and stuff, Fannie Mae went bankrupt and that dream died. Americans locked on to a new Dream. A dream where we aren’t enslaved to mortgages and corporate employers. Screw owning a house, I want to own my own company.

The new dream is Entrepreneurship.

Blame Quantitative Easing or Swensen’s Asset Allocation model: Venture Capital is seeing a lot of inflows. And VCs have to do their jobs, which is to invest in startups. Therefore it is in their best interest that lots of people quit their corporate jobs and start, or work at, a startup.

Welcome to the new marketing scam. The pages of TechCrunch2 teem with stories of who raised how much money and how easy it was. Look, this 8-month old company is suddenly worth a Billion dollars3! All they did was write an app! Anyone can write an app.

In Silicon Valley, every day is just like this.
In Silicon Valley, every day is just like this.

Silicon Valley is the best place to do it, of course. Sam Altman, Paul Graham, Marc Andreessen, and Peter Thiel all say so. They cite many different reasons, but the biggest one is that way they don’t have to get off their asses and leave Sand Hill Road to meet with founders.

Dear VCs: You are not allowed to bitch about the high burn rates of startups while simultaneously urging their founders to live in the most expensive city in the nation. Doing so makes you a hypocritical shit.

So, what’s your dream today? Who fed it to you, and why?

1 This does not constitute investment advice.

2 The founder of TechCrunch is also an LP at multiple VC firms, which should really be a disclosure in every single article they publish.

3 Don’t believe everything that you read.

Hackers and Painters

Hackers & Painters

I’ve been searching for a copy of Hackers and Painters for some time now. A free copy, mind you. I kept hoping that some generous soul would eventually upload a bootlegged ebook for me to download on Bittorrent. I feel like Paul Graham would have wanted it that way.

Well, I finally found a copy at the Santa Clara City Library.

One thing I learned is that hacking is more like painting than it is like software development. The programming done in a corporate environment requires an adherence to predefined specs. The programmer is effectively forced to color in a coloring book.

Hacking involves design. The code materializes as a rough sketch. It’s ugly and has not been fully thought out. The hacker gradually fills in contours, then details. He might deviate from the original plans. But he iterates and refines the design until it becomes something beautiful.

A painting is never finished. You just stop working on it.

It is the same with software.