Idolizing tech founders

Why, and why not?

Markokenya

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When we idolize tech founders and other innovators (nice tag, credit: Scott Galloway) we annoy people. We annoy the old guard.

Innovators inspire us the same way rappers inspire teenagers. They promise to break the status quo, and this fact alone is enough to win our admiration. Most tech founders are young, brimming with confidence, socially inept — in some cases on the spectrum — and they frequently come across as unlikeable people. Never mind. We love them anyway. Or some of us do.

The status quo is being fiercely protected by the suits, the banks, the traditions, the old money and universities and the media. They are collectively shit scared of everything that isn’t the status quo. Meanwhile, those of us not born into privilege and not groomed to go into the top schools, realize that our only chance of ever breaking the status quo and rising to a financial state other than the one tattooed on our foreheads, is to be a founder or to be close to a founder, and to burn society’s cobwebs by innovating furiously against the status quo. Perhaps we’ll win, perhaps we’ll die trying. But we won’t obey the status quo.

I left a cushy job and a beautiful life in Neuchâtel, Switzerland 30 years ago to start a new adventure in Mountain View, CA. My friends thought I was insane. My apartment was the gate house of a palace built in 1672, overlooked the English gardens that lay between me and the lakeshore, in a beautiful ancient but modern city where crime was almost zero, salaries were very high and my workload was very civilized. I played rugby, tennis, windsurfed and snowboarded, whatever the weather called for. I had a great group of friends and life was really good. I was 30.

Why would anyone leave such a charmed life to go to a sweaty crowded valley where a normal work week is 70 hours and a normal commute is 1.5 hours?

I left because I saw the calcification of the European social system. My friends born into privilege didn’t have to work very hard and were encouraged to study economics and take their time to finish college. Then they were funneled into a large bank where they slowly learned the ropes, without having to work 100 hour weeks like their New York counterparts. Mom and dad paid for the BMW and the fancy apartment, so no…

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Markokenya

San Francisco geek, entrepreneur, wannabe economist, mediocre equestrian