Rich Tech Execs Just As Awful As Rich Wall Street Execs, Just In Different Way
In the tech world, nearly everyone has...stories of inordinate wealth...[like] the time Airbnb flew Ashton Kutcher in for a meeting. That one company party with the ice luge, or the one with a surprise appearance by Jane's Addiction. The guy who lost his iPhone several times over the course of one hedonistic weekend, buying a brand-new one each time ("you know, because he can," the storyteller added, wide-eyed), or the one who just bought a $5,000 bicycle, or the one who flew halfway around the world on a moment's notice, just to get away for the weekend...
Are you shocked to learn that most of these people are white men who also skew heavily libertarian (because taxes = slavery) and do not donate to charity or to the arts?
The tech world in general is notoriously uncharitable: According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, only four of 2011's fifty most generous US donors worked in tech, despite the fact that thirteen of Forbes' Fifty Richest Americans in 2012 had made some or all of their fortunes in tech. Even so, Silicon Valley has spawned a few high-profile art patrons, in addition to Pincus and Mayer: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen collects Van Gogh and Rothko; the venture capitalist Jim Breyer serves on the board of SFMOMA.
Historically, most arts funding has, of course, come from older people, for the simple reason that they tend to be wealthier. But San Francisco's moneyed generation is now significantly younger than ever before. And the swath of twenties- and thirties-aged guys — they are almost entirely guys — that represents the fattest part of San Francisco's financial bell curve is, by and large, simply not interested.
"If you're talking the symphony or other classical old-man shit, I would say [interest] is very low," an employee at a smallish San Francisco startup recently told me. "The amount of people I know that give a shit about the symphony as opposed to the amount of people I know who would look at a cool stencil on the street ... is really small."
Yeah fuck that classical old-man shit. It is impossible to simultaneously appreciate classical music AND cool stencils on the street, everyone knows that -- you have to pick one, and it's got to be the one that amplifies your personal brand. And well, classical old-man shit does not amplify your personal brand so why are we even TALKING about it, honestly? I mean, if the symphony wants to exist, it should just start a Kickstarter and get it over with, and then the free market can decide if it's worth saving. End of story, done.
Anyway, this sound like a fun place to live? In an oasis of white libertarian tech guys who (seriously) hire models to roam around office parties decorated with rented caged tigers?
Hopefully, you answered no to this question because you probably cannot afford it:
Entire industries that didn't exist ten years ago are either thriving on venture capital, or thriving on companies that are thriving on it. It is now possible to find a $6 bottle of Miller High Life, a $48 plate of fried chicken, or a $20 BLT in parts of the city that used to be known for their dive bars and taco stands. If, after all, money has always been a means of effecting the world we want to bring about, when a region is flooded with uncommonly rich and uncommonly young people, that world begins to look very different. And we're all living in it, whether we like it or not.
Certainly someone will accuse us of being jealous because WE do not have enough fluency with SEO optimization to be typing this from our office in the Bay Area, wearing $300 jeans and a $500 artisan limited edition silkscreened tee-shirt. And of course, it would be very nice if our skillsets were valued just as much as tech-oriented skillsets, this is true! But no, Wonketteers, we are not bitter about the fact that we aren't swimming in money; we are bitter about the fact that the people who ARE swimming in tech startup money seem to be completely incapable of examining their own internalized privilege, have no interest in engaging in philanthropic or charitable activities to improve their communities, and promote a culture wherein work is not valued -- unless, of course, it's their own. (Don't get us wrong, it would be great if education could be "free" and books could be "free" and music could be "free" but this means in reality that teachers are educating for "free"and writers are writing for "free" and musicians are playing for "free" and we have this crazy idea about that, which is "fuck you.")
Also, these tech guys do not seem to create many jobs. As we noted way back in 2012:
There are roughly 20 paid Reddit employees running a company that may be worth as much as $100 million or more . Wikipedia has 35 paid employees and the rest work for free as “moderators.” HuffPo has a small core staff of paid workers and the rest write for free. Pinterest has 19 paid employees and...Tumblr has 18 paid employees...
So welcome to 2013, where the East Coast is run by rich white male Republican bankers, the West Coast is run by rich white male Libertarian tech guys, and the rest of us don't have jobs but on the plus side, we can read books for free on the internet.