What happened in Silicon Valley in the 2010s ?
Airbnb: founded in 2008, raised over $6 billion, managed to destroy entire areas of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris and Rome, among other cities, because rich tourists wanted to live like a local for a few days, and apparently failed to turn a profit…
Crypto: Silicon Valley’s favourite speculative asset and bullshit story was further improved by NFTs and their wet dreams of web3. In the meantime, in India they are working on real payments systems and are in talks about taking them to Australia and France.
Facebook: Zuck’s hot-or-not website turned into a juggernaut that resulted in the largest data abuse ever, violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, Trump at the White House and Brexit. Not bad for a company that wanted to unite the world.
Google: they changed their name to Alphabet, dropped every pretence of not doing evil and stopped caring about the quality of their search results entirely. A crop of new search engines are emerging, including Brave, Kagi, Neeva, Qwant and Mojeek.
Scooters: Bird and Lime came from nowhere and raised $2 billion in an impressive play to save Americans from walking. A number of companies copied them in Europe, and cities were all too happy to let the market solve problems they are supposed to work on.
Tesla: in spite of cars and suburbia being America’s greatest failure of the XX Century, Tesla was hailed as the solution to the problem. Cars are a very hard addiction to kick, and it’s a lot easier to pretend that moving to EVs will solve our every problem.
Twitter: they helped spread democracy during the Arab Spring, in countries that are neither Arabic, nor have become democracies. On the other hand, they gave Trump a platform. If that were not bad enough, they are soon to be owned by Elon Musk.
Uber: bust taxis, create the illusion that cheaper and more luxurious rides were possible at the same time and traffic could be solved by magic by an app. $31 billion burned and a wasted decade in which nobody tried to solve our cities’ hard problems.
WeWork: only in Silicon Valley can a real estate company become a tech company — sure, that would be proptech, raise $22 billion, fail to turn a profit, go public etc. Another poster child of a decadent decade of hubris, groupthink and drinking the Kool-Aid.