Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Silicon Valley Millionaires

There's been a lot of talk about this article in the NY Times and once again I felt compelled to join the echo chamber. The thing that struck me about this was how the NYT spun things.

On one hand, we have hard-working professionals who have made a lot of money. They made a lot of money, and yet they continue to work hard. They continue to worry about sending their kids to college. They drive modest cars and live in modest homes. In short, they made a lot of money and it didn't change them.

How is this bad? If you make a lot of money you're supposed to suddenly not want to work, not care about your kids, and live lavishly?So that would be good, and continuing to work hard and living modestly is bad?

Then the article is littered with statements like "People around here, if they have 2 or 3 million dollars, they don’t feel secure" ... Ouch. But who said that? Maybe it was an engineer at a startup? Or maybe it was a salesman at large software company? Nope. That quote (and another similar one) are from an estate planner. That's right it's a quote from a guy whose job is to tell people they need to worry about their ... financial security.

Now I can't forget another quote that's the big finale of the article: "Here, the top 1 percent chases the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and the top one-tenth of 1 percent chases the top one-one-hundredth of 1 percent." Now who said this? This time it's from a serial entrepreneur. Clearly that's a good source for a generalization about the millions of people in The Valley.

Look, I don't expect the NYT to understand The Valley. This is a very unique place. There's a lot of smarts and a lot of money. The thing is that both of those ingredients are necessary and you have to understand both to have any hope of understand The Valley. It's easy for outsiders to concentrate on the money and try to explain everything. So if rich people are working hard it must be because they feel like they aren't rich enough, right? Um, no...

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