My friend Ross Baird over at Village Capital posted a great bit of advice for the “tech” crowd in TechCrunch today:
Dear Silicon Valley,
You used to be the envy of the world. Over the last decade I’ve seen countless cities try to become you, from the Silicon Savannah to the Silicon Bayou.
At last year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit on Stanford’s campus, hundreds of entrepreneurs from Mongolia to South Sudan came to listen to President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg and get a touch of your magic fairy dust. The American Dream — anyone with an idea, a garage and a good work ethic can build a great company — might as well have been born in your backyard. I admire your innovation, openness, creativity and all you stand for.
In case you haven’t noticed, though, you’ve changed from hero to villain. You’re too expensive and exclusive for the rest of the world: The garages that gave us Hewlett-Packard and Google now cost millions of dollars. You’ve moved from icon to joke — the show that bears your name is a cringe-worthy, true-to-life satire.
You’re churning out companies that are raising hundreds of millions of dollars, and going bankrupt in literal satires of themselves: a $700 million blood-testing company that never had any actual results; a $120 million juicer with packets that can actually be squeezed by hand.
Now Fast Company is declaring the end of the public’s “love affair” with the Silicon Valley ideal, and everyone from socialist Bernie Sanders to hard-right Steve Bannon is calling for your biggest companies to be heavily regulated, and your reputation is fast approaching that of Wall Street (which used to have a good reputation, too).
Here are a few places that you went wrong — and what you can do to fix it.