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Silicon Valley's Youth Problem 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-many-people-want-to-be-a-rock-star dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times has an article about the strange cultural rift around tech innovation in Silicon Valley. The companies getting all the press are the ones developing shiny new apps and attempting to reinvent their industry. This attention — and all the money that follows it — is drawing in many young, talented engineers. The result is that getting people to develop needed and useful existing technologies is a harder sell. 'For better or worse, these are the kinds of companies that seem to be winning the recruiting race, and if the traditional lament at Ivy League schools has been that the best talent goes to Wall Street, a newer one is taking shape: Why do these smart, quantitatively trained engineers, who could help cure cancer or fix, want to work for a sexting app?' This is more evidence that the tech bubble is continuing to inflate: '[I]n the last 10 years in particular, there has been an exacerbation of the qualities for which it's been both feted and mocked: Valuations are absurdly high for companies with no revenue. The founders are younger; the pace is faster.'"
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Silicon Valley's Youth Problem

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  • by Ashenkase (2008188) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:23PM (#46467921)
    I would sooner do surgery on my leg with a spoon than work for the low-bidder, over-commit, under-deliver wreck of a shop that CGI represents.
  • Money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zifnabxar (2976799) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:23PM (#46467925)
    One word: Money
  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:23PM (#46467931) Homepage Journal

    It has nothing to do with the products, and everything to do with how existing companies see workers(especially tech workers) as "cost centers". We're kind of reaping the results of a system that views employees as "at will temporary work power" through massive layoffs at the earliest convenience.

    It was "Just the cost of doing business" and we weren't supposed to hold it against them, as it concentrated wealth upwards and made peoples' lives more fragile and terrified. You didn't know if you could count on your next check, but you had to live in a housing market that did assume that. No one really wants to be a whim. Or if they are, they'd like to be a whim of their own, at least.

  • Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PHPNerd (1039992) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:23PM (#46467935) Homepage
    Why would they cure cancer when they can join a start-up and possibly get bought out by the titans? The draw of the Valley is that you can be a millionaire by the time you're 24. This isn't "rocket surgery."
  • by khasim (1285) <> on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:27PM (#46467991)

    So the younger coders are willing to risk a few of their early years in the hopes of a big stock win or buy-out.

    Where's the problem?

    If there are other systems that need programmers then hire programmers for those other systems. There are programmers who do not fit the "just out of school" demographic. Why not hire those programmers? Why focus on the "young" coders?

  • Barrier to entry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spxero (782496) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:28PM (#46467995) Journal

    I don't live in the area anymore, but being a fresh college grad near that area around '05 it was hard finding work due to job requirements. I had no real-world experience, only a 4-year degree and a knack for computers and networking. No one was willing to train or even give an interview until I had 5+ years of server admin experience. The end result is that I moved out of the area and haven't thought about going back since. Maybe the older, established companies need to loosen job requirements and train good employees if they want people to work for them instead of the startups.

  • by scottbomb (1290580) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:33PM (#46468061) Journal

    Because age discrimination is alive and well (not to mention rather blatant in this field) thanks to the fact that it's almost impossible to prove.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:38PM (#46468123)

    Because they believe the "young" coders will work for dirt-cheap wages and they want a piece of that action.

    Sorry, guys. If you want me, you have to pay me*. You don't have to pay me as much as you would have to pay a 50-year-old consultant, but you have to give me a good wage and good working conditions, or I will walk away and take an offer from one of those startups you're complaining about.

    * P.S.: You also have to not reject my application out of hand because I don't have enough experience. The fact is, as a young person, I don't have 10 years of experience in the industry. That's why I'm willing to accept less money than the 50-year-old consultant. If you don't think it's worth your while to train me a little, fine, but then don't come crying to me when you can't find young people to work for you.

  • by microTodd (240390) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:50PM (#46468209) Homepage Journal

    I think this comment might be closer to the truth. We always see Slashdot stories and anecdotes about how big companies' HR procedures are dumb and you can't barely get hired there because of that (i.e. 10 years experience in a 5-year-old tech. Not willing to train because you have to "hit the ground running"). Meanwhile a startup founder will meet with you at Your Coffee Place Of Choice and hire you on the spot.

    So...younger, no experience, not trained in resume writing? Probably can't even get an interview at Cisco.

    As I see it, its the big companies' problem. They're the ones with screwed up HR procedures.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:01PM (#46468323)

    Yup, this sure is a NYT article. Hand wringing by an economically and technically illiterate journalist, asking a question which any 6 year old could answer.

  • by khasim (1285) <> on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:13PM (#46468475)


    Just look at the title: Silicon Valley's Youth Problem

    "Youth" being a code word for:
    1. work more than 40 hours a week
    2. work for less than the median wage
    3. no health issues that will conflict with #1 & #2
    4. no husband/wife/kids that will conflict with #1, #2 & #3.
    5. okay with #1 - #4 as long as there is a possibility of a percentage of an IPO or buy-out some years in the future.

    Fuck that. That's not a problem with a lack of "young" coders. That's a problem with their business plan. Items #1 - #4 are really about cash flow (salaries).

  • by company suckup (1351563) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:18PM (#46468541)
    Yes ageism is quite alive and well in IT and other areas of the job market. To answer the previous poster's question of "Where's the problem?" the problem is the original article is talking about the supposedly best and the brightest of IT, the top grads of high-ranking IT schools not your run of the mill community college/generic state U or Kaplan/Devry/ITT Tech grad. The former are seen as leaders of their profession. When many of the leaders are simply out to make as much $$$$ as fast as they can many others adopt the same mentality. There is little movement of working to help for the greater good of society. It's how much can I get and how quickly can I get it?
  • Innovation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ben Blais (3574815) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:20PM (#46468563)
    The fact that you compare working for and established company to "curing cancer" and going to work for a start-up as "developing a sexting app" shows little knowledge of what start-up and established companies are actually doing. The fact of the matter is, working for a larger established company usually consists of maintaining or making trivial enhancements to existing software with the occasional new product being developed. Working for a start-up, however, usually includes a rampant amount of innovation simply because start-ups don't have much money to advertise their new products. The result result of this is they have a need to develop more interesting and innovative products in order to be able to compete with established companies. Another thing worth mentioning is the diversity that start-ups usually have, need I remind you that Tesla motors was a start-up, and many of the technologies, including some which show promise of curing cancer, were also developed at start-ups.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:24PM (#46468607)

    the problem is the original article is talking about the supposedly best and the brightest of IT ... seen as leaders of their profession. When many of the leaders are simply out to make as much $$$$ as fast as they can many others adopt the same mentality. There is little movement of working to help for the greater good of society. It's how much can I get and how quickly can I get it?

    This isn't just IT, this is everywhere in American society these days. Our own political leaders are no different; they're obviously corrupt to the core, and only in it for the money and power, and don't do anything to actually improve the state of our society, which is why our roads are falling apart and our bridges collapsing, while our taxes are sky-high (in the areas where good paying jobs exist). Basically, our society is just falling apart, because no one really cares any more, and why should they? Our leaders don't, and our citizens are too dumb to elect decent leaders or hold them accountable.

  • by uncqual (836337) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:26PM (#46468631)

    Why do they not want to "fix"? Because that's an uninteresting, almost clerical, job made worse by being part of a messy government procurement system. I can't think of any developers that want to do that sort of work -- been done already thousands of times (usually, of course, much better than Most would only do it to pay the mortgage. Of course, the good developers can find something more interesting to do with less bureaucratic pain inflicted on them in the process.

  • Re:Excuse me? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:42PM (#46468779)

    Are you saying that the United States Government, in a pathetic and corrupt attempt to ensure the precious value of the dollar remains somewhat stable, simply prints billions more of it, every month? Surely you jest.

    They print about 0.5 billions of it, every month []. Of course, it also destroys a similar amount. Not that that's what you mean at all, of course... you're making some pathetic attempt to start an economic discussion in a forum filled with people who know very little about economics on that kind of scale.

  • by plopez (54068) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @06:30PM (#46469113) Journal

    Isn't child labor great?

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @06:37PM (#46469173)

    When will this transfer of wealth from young to old stop?

    When you get old.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @06:44PM (#46469225)

    I don't want to pay (subside) someone else healthcare.

    I didn't want to pay for your K-12 education and subsidize your higher education. It would bother me a lot less though if you weren't so childish and self-centered.

  • Re:Excuse me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @02:29AM (#46471155)

    I was in Asia for a few weeks, and was auto logged out from my work computer. Today, when I checked Slashdot at lunch while logged out, I was presented with this strange, foreign beta site. It looked much better than it did a few months ago, and then I logged in and turned it off. So it's still being foisted on the anonymous masses.

    On topic: When is it different that the best and brightest are lured by the flashy companies making the "cool" products and offering low wages and the potential for exploding options, as opposed to working for the existing big companies with all their processes and proper-market-valuation that make them boring and predictable? It's been like this for at least 15 years. Sure, when the economy is down, the big guys are safer, but when the money and drugs and alcohol are flowing (and, this year at least from what I've seen at SXSW, the alcohol and drugs are flowing), young startups are the place to be for people with big ambitions and no responsibilities.

  • by waveman (66141) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @03:42AM (#46471341) Homepage

    When people complain "supply is less than demand", they often forget to include "at a price I want to pay". It's funny that you often hear this complaint from people who pose as champions of free enterprise.

    Yes there is a shortage of technically competent people prepared to work 60 hours a week for minimum wage.

    If you pay the market clearing price, you will not find a shortage.

"The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults." -- Peter De Vries