Thoughts on FastCompany's Waning Love of Silicon Valley Article

If you haven't had a chance to read FastCompany's Why The Public's Love Affair With Silicon Valley Might Be Over, give yourself the 9 minutes required to peruse it.  The article describes the path of misogyny, greed, exclusion, and overall bad behavior that now seem the permeate the sector.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the direction we are heading.

What was once the shiny example of progress and innovation has now been tarnished by scandal and some bad actors.

Started in 2007?

Just a decade ago, social media and the smart phone brought a whole new wave of seemingly overnight-sensation companies and made their CEOs cult heroes. Money was to be made and with the rise of this explosive growth brought a new wave of investors looking to direct the innovation. Those lofty expectations soon spilt out into other sectors and markets - even into places that had only ever seen slow, steady growth before.

The term was "disruption." Over the last decade, that idea has led to impressive sounding statements like "we are going to tackle the $200B cold beverage industry," says the company selling "ice in the cloud."

Lofty, unrealistic expectations clashed with reality and left one inevitable path forward - "win at any cost." The idea was that if you adopted this mentality, you can find the path to success. This mantra only brought out the worst behaviors in a few, or allowed the worst of us to become successful. 

it might be easy to paint the entire valley with these brushstrokes, just like it might be easy to say all on Wall Street are evil and greedy. Broad stereotypes like these are easily spilt out at cocktail parties, but don't come close to reflecting what is really happening. Most people I know who work here and call it home are progressive, innovative, and smart. They focus on creating something lasting in the world, on leaving their mark, and on taking care of their families.

The culture, however, needs to change

Myopia and Misogyny

McKinsey highlighted that companies with racially and ethically diverse executive teams are 35% more likely to outperform in their respective sectors. However, only 16% of executives in US companies are women. Forbes took a slightly different perspective by arguing that focusing on performance led to more diversity in leadership which led to outperforming organizations and yielded better shareholder value.

Either way - chicken or egg - more diversity yielded better performing companies . The "code of bro" behavior only serves to be short-sighted and misses creating any lasting value.

Technology can be one of our best opportunities to make lasting positive change in the world. Silicon Valley can still be at the center of that movement. There are good people trying to make that happen. There is money to be made because there are people who will pay for the value we can create. 

However, our "win at any cost" mantra is the surest path to eventual ruin.


Todd Wilms is a marketing executive and proudly calls Silicon Valley home. View expressed are his- 'cause who else would claim them?