"What took me a while to understand was that there is a pervasive, willful reluctance in the industry to acknowledge power, and to acknowledge tech’s transition from underdog to establishment. Among other consequences, that’s resulting in a new political orientation for a lot of people, a rightward swing."
One phenomenon you witnessed firsthand during Silicon Valley’s 2010s boom was overconfident white men being anointed with investor capital, based as much on ambition and pretense as on actual vision and product. I’m comfortable saying that overconfident white men have always benefited from institutional deference. Did you sense that Silicon Valley’s deregulation and lack of oversight exacerbated privilege?
Like you, I’m not sure it’s a phenomenon so much as an unbroken cultural tradition—but yes, I think certain characteristics of Silicon Valley served as accelerants. Deregulation and lack of oversight quicken and amplify start-up founders’ visions of the world, and help push new ideas through with speed and a certain degree of impunity.
I don’t mean to paraphrase, but it seemed that the founders of the ebook start-up you worked at in New York had amassed capital by selling themselves as opposed to a product.
I think that was a big part of it, but this was also a moment when people hadn’t cracked ebooks—or more specifically, “Netflix-for-ebooks”—yet. Books were another medium to disrupt, or innovate on, or whatever. So it was the idea of the product, but it also mattered that the idea came from three charismatic guys who’d graduated from prestigious private colleges, and had worked briefly at successful start-ups and tech corporations.