[Editor Charlie sez: When they write the book on the Internet it will be the biggest income transfer of all time, from Macy’s to Amazon, from Tower to Spotify, from Sony to Apple, from competition to monopoly. It’s not new money or a new economy, it’s just the old economy going into as few new pockets as possible. There will be a magic show at 0930.]
Despite what you may have heard, hard work in your chosen trade is absolutely the stupidest way to join the billionaires club. In Silicon Valley, the world’s most brilliant MBAs and IT professionals discovered a shortcut to fabulous riches. Ambitious Ivy Leaguers who once flocked to Wall Street are now packing up and heading west. The Valley’s startup founders, investors, equity-holding executives and fee-taking middlemen have thrived above all. Inspired by their success, my idea was to move to Silicon Valley, pitch a startup and become obscenely rich. I left home with some homemade business cards showing my new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and a bunch of half-baked ideas….
Unfortunately, the techie hustlers can be a little too clever for their own good – and ours. With decades of unwavering support from the military-industrial complex, Congress and Wall Street, the pallid princelings of Silicon Valley rewrote the rules of the global economy in their favour. The public, fooled as it was by the tech industry’s slick marketing and lulled by the novelty and convenience of its gadgetry, might be forgiven for missing some early warning signs. (Remember when the Google guys used to rhapsodise about beaming the internet – with the attendant targeted advertising – directly into people’s brains? It doesn’t sound so far-fetched and quirky now, does it?)
The dark side of Big Tech, which many consumers are only beginning to come to grips with, is not some byproduct of California-style “conscious capitalism” – an unfortunate misstep in an otherwise heroic effort to “change the world”. Profit-hunger, philistinism and misanthropy are and always have been at the core of the enterprise. The new breed of Silicon Valley billionaires knew exactly what they were doing. The plan was to take all the money and run – to Mars, if necessary.