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Silicon Valley's Youth Problem 225

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

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:30PM (#46468021) Homepage Journal

    I don't think Wall Street has learned to account for how fickle website userbases are(how about that slashdot beta?). They have no brand loyalty. And the lack of barrier to entry means that every facebook, zygna, myspace, and yahoo are going to get knocked from the perch and end up in a pile of former stars that have no usage.

  • This is not new. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:32PM (#46468043)

    It's an artifact of the capital markets. The same thing happened in the late '50s with the 'Tronics Boom'

    Going back 80 years earlier it was the railroads.

    It's a side effect of the 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds". []

  • by lq_x_pl ( 822011 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:50PM (#46468205)
    It is interesting to see a story like this after months of reading about companies bemoaning the fact that they can't find good engineers.
  • by JDAustin ( 468180 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:00PM (#46468315)

    The problem with the OP is he assumes all engineers are part of the 1% who get the stock options and $$$ payouts. In reality, the vast majority of IT folks are no more smarter then normal accountants, lawyers, etc. We just ended up in IT because we didn't want to be accountants, lawyers, etc.

    Personally I majored in Psychology and worked in HR (managing a inhouse access/sql HR db, writing reports) a few years in the mid/late 90's before realizing I could get paid a shitload more doing a similar job but in IT.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:06PM (#46468371) Homepage

    Read the whole article. It's quite good.

    It's not "youth" that's the problem. It's banality. "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks." - Jeff Hammerbacher, Facebook. Most of the "app" companies are not "tech" companies. They're fad publishers. The technology for doing routine web apps and phone apps is pretty much standardized now.

    The engineering that goes into phone hardware is just awe-inspiring. Electronic design today is brutal. You barely get to use any power, the budget for each function is tiny, the size has to be very small, you have to operate multiple radios without interference right next to each other, and there's a new product to get out every six months. Most of that engineering is not done in the US. That's a big concern. The US probably doesn't have the technology to build a cell phone any more.

    It's not as bad as the first dot-com boom. This time, there's usually revenue. Income, even. Even Twitter claims to be profitable (although they're not, really. [] Look at the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles results, not the ones excluding "one-time expenses".)

  • by davydagger ( 2566757 ) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @02:38AM (#46471175)
    We live in a culture where status, identity, and self-worth is closely tied not only to how much money you have, but to how much money you make bankers.

    So basicly, programmers are basicly living by the same values as the rest of mainstream society. The same values exhibited by both politicians and celebrities, and just about all people looked up to as role models.

    People don't spend $50k on college to be the next Richard Stallman, a man who's altruism is a relic of the past. They spend it to be the next Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs, people who made billions exploiting the masses.

    Name one cancer researcher off the top of your head. I can't. But we sure know who bill gates and steve jobs are. The rest of society holds them in far higher regard, and they have far more leyway in personal options. And if they ever get questioned on their contributions to society, they can tote how much money they poured into charity, and how much money they spend on curing diseases.

    We all know Bill and Melinda Gates spent billions on fighting malaria in africa, by donating vaccines. No one ever lionizes the name of any of the people who did any of the research, manufacture, or phyiscal distribution of said vaccines.

    Now, you went to a prestigious university, which aren't cheap by the way. Which person do you want to be in life? The scientist, or the millionare?

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller