Last year, Silicon Valley replaced Manhattan as the insufferable centre of everything the normal world hates about business and the rich. That trend will continue in 2014, as wealthy tech-age winners expand their boneheaded, egomaniacal reign in San Francisco and beyond.
From a pure sound bite perspective, though, the tech bros and startup kings will have a hard time topping 2013. As a year it was a kind of pinnacle, a perfect distillation of a world insulated from all others, blind to the idea that its victories might not be of benefit to all.
The bon mots came in many categories. Some were racist. Some were classist. A disturbing number were sexist—often virulently so. All, however, shared one thing: a complete lack of perspective. Even more than Wall Street, Silicon Valley is a bubble. It’s an individual world that imagines itself the whole—a kind of Synecdoche, California—and it always seems stunned when someone from the outside has the gall to point out its foibles.
Below, a selection of the worst from Silicon Valley and its adherents in 2013 (they’re not all geographically based in the Valley, but they’re all part of the same bicoastal startup ecosystem) from founders, venture capitalists, and more.
Greg Gopman, founder AngelHack
Just got back to SF. I’ve traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down market st in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little.
The difference is in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet, and generally stay out of your way. They realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests. And that’s okay.
In downtown SF the degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy, they act like they own the center of the city. Like it’s their place of leisure… In actuality it’s the business district for one of the wealthiest cities in the USA. It a disgrace. I don’t even feel safe walking down the sidewalk without planning out my walking path.
You can preach compassion, equality, and be the biggest lover in the world, but there is an area of town for degenerates and an area of town for the working class. There is nothing positive gained from having them so close to us. It’s a burden and a liability having them so close to us. Believe me, if they added the smallest iota of value I’d consider thinking different, but the crazy toothless lady who kicks everyone that gets too close to her cardboard box hasn’t made anyone’s life better in a while.
Venture Capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya
Palihapitiya, a Canadian and an early Facebook employee, said the following when asked about the U.S. government shutdown in October, an event that pushed about 800,000 federal employees temporarily out of work.
If the government shuts down, nothing happens and we all move on, because it just doesn’t matter. Stasis in the government is actually good for all of us.
Pax Dickinson, former CTO, Business Insider:
Dickinson, the tech ur-bro, was fired one day after the Internet hive mind started talking about his racist, sexist, unfunny Twitter feed. A few of his gems:
“aw, you can’t feed your family on minimum wage? well who told you to start a f—— family when your skills are only worth minimum wage?”
“Tech managers spend as much time worrying about how to hire talented female developers as they do worrying about how to hire a unicorn”
“Men have made the world such a safe and comfortable place that women now have the time to bitch about not being considered our equals.”
Srinivasan, a Stanford lecturer and a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, made an explicit Godfather reference in an October speech many interpreted as advocating for Silicon Valley’s secession from the United States.
Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam
Before founding rap-lyrics annotation service Rap Genius, Moghadam blogged his way out of an internship with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. Suffice to say, Moghadam holds a grudge, tweeting at one point last year that Buffett could “suck” his “d—“. In a later Google Chat conversation with a reporter, he also had this to say about one of the most successful investors in history:
“Warren Buffett is a little bitch tho. I can’t believe he bought a RAILROAD with CASH. it’s like ‘hey! warren! there’s this thing.. it’s like the NEW railroad! it’s called the INTERNET!