The slow-motion Silicon Valley train wreck

by Toby Manhire / 20 December, 2012
ReadWrite editor angrily denounces the players, and enablers, of the startup casino.
Investor cash is drying up. Start-up stocks are struggling. And the tech forecasters of Silicon Valley are spying something bubble-looking on the horizon. Many are sympathetic. At least one is not. “Let's All Shed Tears For The Crappy Startups That Can't Raise Any More Money,” runs the headline above a seethingly sarcastic post from Dan Lyons, editor in chief of ReadWrite, the site formerly known as ReadWriteWeb

He writes:

Here’s some stunning, Earth-shattering news: You know all those hundreds of incredibly stupid startups that have been raising seed money in Silicon Valley despite the fact that the people running those startups have no experience doing anything, ever, and have no idea at all how to generate revenue (let alone profit) with their lousy ideas, because, in fact, there is no way to make money with their lousy ideas, because in fact their ideas are lousy?

But who didn’t see this coming? For the past few years we’ve had people calling themselves “investors,” who have no experience investing, swanning around the Valley, slinging money at people calling themselves “entrepreneurs” who have never held an actual job, let alone run a company.

How could this have ended in anything but a train wreck?

We're Shocked - Shocked! - By All Of This

The media are as culpable as anyone, says Lyons.

The sweet irony is watching the buffoons who have been cheering on this clown show and raving about "traction" and "disruption" and "pivots" now reporting on the mess that they helped create.

Lyons’ fury is not just because of the hollowness of it all, however. He appears to have seen the best minds of his generation driven mad by the lure of the startup casino.

What really offends is that smart young people have been conned into thinking that starting a company is akin to buying a lottery ticket or rolling dice at Las Vegas - the odds are long but you never know, you might get lucky and strike it rich. So make something up, throw it out there, and see what happens. "Spray and pray," it's called.

Meanwhile our country is facing a crisis because we have a shortage of students in STEM - science, technology, engineering and math. Every big company in Silicon Valley is starved for talent. And there is an entire generation of young people who, instead of studying those hard subjects, would rather slap together the fourteenth version of a peer-to-peer car sharing service or alternative taxi service. Because it's easy and you might get rich quick.


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