Monday, July 29, 2013

Silicon Valley: The Startup Crowd Is Becoming an Actual Cult

Sometimes I have trouble deciding if the emphasized syllable is "Sili" or "con".
From ValleyWag:
When the Valley vanguard talks about itself as special, separate, and generally better than anyone not involved in a tech company, it's usually rhetoric. At least it used to be. Tech people with money are creating a new fantasy land, a mountaintop gathering called Summit Outside. Welcome to camp.

When conspiracy theorists squawk about kings of finance playing table tennis at Bohemian Grove, they quiver over the thought of one group with influence in finance, media, and politics, all hamming it up beneath the trees. But a new article in The Next Web shows that unlike AM radio night terrors, the cultish creep of startup-think is real. Palo Alto Syndrome. In the piece, Courtney Boyd Meyers—a former editor at the site, and now a company founder—gushes about a recent great outdoors tech conference of mostly white startup owners and their ilk, with all the zeal of an entrepreneurial Patty Hearst.

Tech conferences used to be one of the dullest and sterile of all possible confabs. Now, they increasingly resemble Summit: a large gathering of the well to do (or parvenue) in a secluded location, by invitation, at great cost, with TED Talk-y speakers during the day, DJs at night, and plenty of whimsy to lubricate it all. Think Sean Parker's wedding, only with more meetings and less redwood root damage.

Summit took place on a privately owned mountaintop town literally called Eden. Meyers slips into reporter-mode (it's so easy to do these days!) and writes of Summit—with no mention of the fact that she has a personal interest in the success of these events—as if it were the Eden of scripture:
Without WiFi or outlets, a group of the world’s most Internet-addicted human beings found immense freedom letting go of the digital world and reconnecting with nature.
After chucking bags into tents and strapping on hiking boots, attendees were delighted by surprises at every turn like a sonic meditation deck, a late-night noodle truck, a flash sale of coconuts and LeWeb founder Loic LeMeur giving office hours in the middle of a forest.
Just a 5-minute walk down the hill, Taylor Kuffner’s robotic orchestra, known as “The Gamelatron” was tied to trees in a forest of hammocks, providing an oasis of relaxation for weary Summiteers.
Sounds like a vacation, right? A quirky, twee-to-the-point-of-self-immolation vacation, but still pure leisure.
This isn't mere leisure to them—the conference is a place of worship, not to Baal or Shayṭān, but to Badoo and Sidecar, to the apps, innovators, venture capital firms, and spirit of false-progress that girds it all. Most of all, self-worship. They quite literally believe they are changing the world—not just in the Facebook sense. They are colonizing our planet anew...MORE
Also at ValleyWag:
Watch a Grown Man Defend His $10 Mil Grilled Cheese Startup Investment
Brit Morin profits, literally, from the Donald Rumsfeld school of reality: repeat something often enough and it will be so. Someone once called her the "Martha Stewart of Silicon Valley," and the label's been repeated in almost every article ever written about her, iota of talent not withstanding. Today, it pays off.

The little 7o-year-old house at 353 Carmelita Drive is about as unspectacular as American real estate gets: two bedrooms, one and a half baths, and a modest 960 square feet. Elsewhere in the country (or at least the state) you could probably snatch it up for around a quarter million, tops: but in Google's back yard,…

OK, now we're really heading past the Rubicon: a little app by the name of Elevatr has one task: help you crank out startup ideas as easily and quickly as possible. Because nothing says stable economic sector like a constant stream of easy business ideas.

In the meantime: