The New York Times has developed a pattern of jealously examining the tech scene in San Francisco. I find it silly and frustrating to read in the paper of record.
These articles follow a similar pattern. They pick an issue to illustrate why SF is better or worse than NYC. Interviews and anecdotal evidence ensue. Inevitably, the NYT author comes to a judgment that either SF is too weird or that NYC's approach is superior.
These NYT authors all seem to miss the larger meme. Despite their collective insistence that NYC is just as capable as SF of hosting the tech capital of the world, it doesn't, and maybe can't. Put aside the high rents, crazy fashion, offbeat culture, and stream of bad ideas, SF is the 16th century Venice of today.
Some examples of this in action: (I'll add more as I read them and laugh)
- Major companies are doing business without the advice of NYC bankers. No ill effects observed.. 'Look at those crazies in California! They'll learn their lesson when it all blows up in their face and NYC becomes the center of the world again'.
- 'Look how weird San Francisco houses are!'
- 'Let's setup a straw man argument: San Francisco has no "noir". How unhistorical!'
- "Adults" are needed to run serious companies, like JP Morgan NYT writer takes the bad behavior of one Uber executive and wishes tech companies were better at customer respect and privacy. Contrasting to JP Morgan is both New York centric, and laughable given JP Morgan's record.
- Tech employees are dumb, and they should feel dumb This is somewhere between: "tech company doesn't know what it's doing" to "those tech company employees think they have it good, but they really don't". I love the complete oversight that NYC favorite banks don't ever get mentioned.
- #longreads meets the worst parts of tech journalism, sponsored by The Times "this is tech journalism at its sexist worst."
- The CEO of Slack politely educates a reporter on how VC funding works This reads more like a Hacker News post than an interview with a CEO one of the fastest growing companies in the history of the world.
- "His youthful manner, which practically screams 'Silicon Valley,' was a selling point." Nothing shows respect for a public company CEO who's launching a new product like making the lede about the fact he dropped out of college.
- Silicon Valley is so caught up in it's own fame, it fails at business This post singles out Marc Andreessen as representative of a trend of VCs focusing more on Hollywood star power than on business. The subtext is that real investors don't get distracted by fame which is, naturally, untrue. The whole thing in anecdotal and seems oblivious of the increased risk that venture capital entails.
- This one app failed, so all apps are a fad "Secret’s trajectory illustrates the flash-in-the-pan nature of Silicon Valley’s current technology boom. Even as a handful of start-ups rise to stratospheric valuations and take in billions of dollars in financing, other privately held companies cannot sustain their following."
- Besides negatively invoking the Gold Rush, let's exaggerate the craziness of those Californians. "It is a wild time in Silicon Valley. Two-year-old companies are valued in the billions, ramshackle homes are worth millions and hubris has reached the point where otherwise sane businesspeople muse about seceding from the United States."
- Using interviews to support a biased, fear-mongering, opinion. This article will be declared unbiased because it contains interviews from both sides of the "debate".
It took a day longer than I thought for The Times to turn Reddit/Gawker into a trend story.— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) July 22, 2015
- Let's take the word of a few disgruntled employees and condemn a company that confounds Wall Street
- Remember how cars were a fad? So is Tech.
- A few startups aren't doing as well as they were, therefore the whole tech industry is doomed! Also, let's compare VC to mutual funds, because the risks are similar right?
- News: A startup has a bad exit! Startups are risky! … oh wait. This happens all the time.
- The "Frightful 5" tech companies form an oligarchy the controls… something Nevermind that corporate oligarchies are rife in large US industries and blatant falsehoods like Cisco not continuing to dominate it's space.
- Fearmongering unicorn and strawman bubbles
- Dancing on the newly proclaimed grave of Twitter Nearly gleeful that Twitter is struggling, there's no hesitation in reminding us readers that Twitter was never a real business to start with.
- If the "unicorns" go, the whole thing goes! Just because we saw high valuations in a few dozen companies, it doesn't mean that the whole industry is overvalued.
- Even those crazies in California want the tech economy to collapse The NYT makes the claim, after talking to some activists, that everyone in SF wants the tech economy to bust.
- A former Newsweek writer to complain about young managers firing people for being older. This should have been a piece on Theory Y vs X management. But it became a vaguely veiled anecdote on the discrimination in Tech.
- In which the NYT conflates homelessness and crime Not only is per capita a bad measure of crime because some many people commute into San Francisco, but homelessness doesn't lead to crime.
- Do you love music? Silicon Valley doesn't The title arrogantly stereotypes a whole geography with a platitude. This is just another example of how the NYT, based in old-media centric New York, prefers to defend the established businesses focused on intellectual property over supporting innovation.
- Google does great, but we can't believe they're throwing away good money instead of maximizing the bottom line! Innovation costs too much.
- As more science shows technology is good for us, we'll try to defend the smaller and smaller corner we're painting ourselves into.
- Silicon Valley isn't cool. You know what's cool? China. Mostly because they have QR codes.
- This one time, it wasn't Silicon Valley's fault. But, just remember that most of the time it is: 90% of venture capital investments fail.
- Let's pick a controversial news topic and interview one person about how their company doesn't apply!
- Writer has a bad experience when prices go up; insists that the whole product sector is defunct.. Economics of course have nothing to do with it.
- Let's interview a crazy SF anarchist (hey, she's "self-described"' don't blame us if she's crazy, we all know anarchists aren't real political thinkers) about her 500 person email list and her homeless candidate for a minor municipal regulatory committee.
- Let's take one unicorn and abstract it's problems to the idea that all equity is fundamentally flawed!
- Let's find a few examples of Silicon Valley people making stupid decisions and blame an entire generation for all that silly technology stuff they do.
- There are no fraudsters in banking or other real jobs, so let's throw stones in this glass house!
- The New York Times likes to use SF as the example of what's wrong with America. Never mind the problems with other cities, let alone … gasp … New York.
- What can we say positive about Tech? I know! A puff piece on a successful company that isn't in Silicon Valley! To make sure we get the point across, let's spend the lede talking about those silly incubators those techies use.
- This is the epitome of all NYT posts. Silicon Valley does trivial things and the world has "real" problems. Oh, and we're basing this on only one named example and a blind eye toward any the contrary evidence.
- The NYT is shocked—shocked—to find that large tech companies act like large companies everywhere. Painting the disparity between tech companies which support the GOP and Tech workers who do not. Which is just like nearly all companies everywhere. Also half of the companies in the lede are not based in Silicon Valley.
- Can you believe that other people actually like the Silicon Valley culture!? Oh wait, it's the Chinese. They're weird and scary. Never mind.
- Silicon Valley is a complete mess because… real estate.
- Now that tech companies are on the stock exchange, these VCs are geniuses! The companies are still shit, but look at all that money! Clearly the NYT is well-positioned to decree which VCs to pay attention to.
- All these companies are loosing money! Even some of the public ones! It's a bubble! Never mind making bets and loosing money is the business model of VCs. It's business via experimentation. The horror.
More near-term support for the “graying industry” view of technology came two weeks ago from Goldman Sachs. The economy may be doing nicely and corporate capital spending picking up, but it will not help the technology industry much, according to the investment bank’s survey of corporate spending plans. In 2005, corporate spending on information technology will rise less than 4 percent, the Goldman analysts predicted. “Technology looks to be firmly in the cyclical category for now,” the report stated.
If anyone can be trusted to say the new information economy is a fad, and hasn't replaced the mass media economy. It's the largest New York Bank telling the New York Mass Media it's so.
Yet another, somewhat longer, view suggests that America’s technology industry will not inevitably decline. The more optimistic outlook rests not on the prospects for Wall Street investors, but on the nature of information technology.
Oh, right. If we look past what short-term stock investment obsessed analysts say, it's pretty obvious that Silicon Valley represents a fundamental shift in how business is done.
Medsphere Systems is a start-up that hopes to bring the open-source software formula to hospitals.
Let's take a left turn to look at anecdotal evidence from one company focused on one sector of the Technology industry.
- The NYT rallies against Amazon as a "bruising workplace", and then doubles down in an op-ed:
Amazon — and, to be sure, any number of other companies as well — has taken this idea to its logical extreme: Bring people in, shape them in the Amazon style of confrontation and workaholism, and cast them aside when they have outlived their usefulness.
The back and forth between Amazon and the Times and the conversation it has generated is a perfect meta-narrative for the tension between technology companies and media companies.
- a few crap products mean that a whole sector of technology, generally agreed on as inevitable, is useless
- A lot of words to state that Pinterest has been struggling to grow, but they "discovered” localized content and are now growing. Somehow, struggling to figure out growth is not the "Silicon Valley way"?
- There’s nothing more callous than ancient Roman philosophy brought to modern times—especially when we can pain the whole of Silicon Valley as douchebags!
The New York times is just collecting the confusion that New Yorkers feel when looking at San Francisco. It's a shame that the confusion exists, but … first they laugh at you…
Act 1 of This American Life's It's Not the Product, It's the Person is a great example of New York 'old media' just not understanding how Silicon Valley works.
Alex Bloomberg pitches his new podcast company, asking $1.5 million dollars in seed funding. He shows an ignorance for how venture capital works, amazement at how business-like getting funding is, and arrogance in carpetbagging.
I've loved Planet Money, and Mr. Bloomberg in it, but this was very frustrating to listen to.