Another example of Stuart Varney not understanding Silicon Valley

Varney, of course, is against an increase in the minimum wage because, as he says, it makes employees greedy. And then, of course, he decides to give an example of how increasing the minimum wage will drag dowm innovation:

“Let me take you back to Google,” Varney opined. “In the earlier days of Google, they had all kinds of youngsters, up and coming strivers, who would work day and night. That’s how they built the company. Tech startups with really a drive to succeed and climb that food chain.”

“Now if you bring this in, those high tech workers who started all these brilliant companies, they’ll be on the clock,” he insisted. “Instead of these overnight creative meetings, they’ll be saying, ‘Oh, I just exceeded my 40 hours, I’m due overtime. And if I don’t get it, I’m going to sue.’”

I assure you: none of the engineers at Google worked for minimum wage or were hourly. I assure you none of them are hourly to this day.

What an assrocket.

(Raw Story)

CEOs: Staunch Defenders of the Free Market Conspire Against Free Market

As part of a law suit here in Silicon Valley, via the emails of various CEOs, we have learned that titans of industry–those Galtian overlords–conspired to keep engineers from switching companies and presumably receiving higher wages. Instead of letting the invisible hand of the market determine the going rate for engineering talent, they had a Gentlemen’s Agreement to not steal employees from each other.

The inner workings of Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, and others are in the public spotlight.

Steve Jobs, who was a world-class asshole, which might be the secret to being such a gifted CEO, threatened a patent lawsuit against Palm if they did not stop poaching Apple engineers. Jobs wrote to then-Palm CEO Ed Colligan:

I’m sure you realize the asymmetry in the financial resources of our respective companies.”

Which is about as close to making him an offer he cannot refuse as you can get. Seriously, when the company with the highest value in the world tells you about its deep pockets while threatening litigation, you better believe that you’ve been warned. Next thing: a horse head on your pillow.

Eric Schmidt of Google (motto: Don’t Be Evil) of course was evil: Google’s former senior staffing strategist Amnon Geshuri informs Schmidt that a recruiter, having pursued an Apple employee, will be “terminated within the hour.”

Schmidt seems to have realized that all of these gentlemen’s agreements were probably unethical and potentially illegal. But being Eric Schmidt, instead of stopping the practice, he ordered everyone to quit leaving a paper trail, “less the company be sued later.” So, in short, a cover-up to a conspiracy. Nice work, Nixon. Can you recommend a plumber?

Likewise, Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini doesn’t want the handshake agreements to be “broadly known.” This pretty clearly indicates that these guys knew what they were doing was wrong, if not illegal and in a delicate knife-in-the-back twist of irony, declaring that there be no paper trail is now in the paper trail.

Yes, these CEOs are the same guys who squash any attempt to collectively bargain, who fight any regulations that might interfere with the alleged free-markets.

Now if only we had an Attorney General who was amongst the breathing, there might be charges and a highly entertaining frog-march of the elites to the pokey. But we don’t. We also don’t have a media that is covering this story. The business press isn’t covering this story, and if you want to consider how it could be that wages did not improve with the economy, here is one part of that puzzle. But the press is covering the vital issue of Beyoncé lip-syncing and the ever-present threat of celebrity side-boob.

The Verge has the entire collection of documents up in a gallery. It’s infuriating, but it is really worth reading.

How to Kill Reality TeeVee…

…make a series about Silicon Valley:

The projects are real. The dreams are real. But will Bravo’s upcoming reality television show about Silicon Valley startup culture capture the true toil of entrepreneurs trying to improve life through online apps and programs?

Right there I can say this is doomed. Anyone who lives or works in Silicon Valley will tell you up front: watching engineers write code or struggle with a problem is boring. Watching paint dry probably has more action. But anyway, let’s continue.

“It’s even worse than I thought it would be,” said Sarah Lacy, a writer who founded technology news website PandoDaily. “Every feedback I’ve received is they are entirely scripting the show.”

I think that they would have to, otherwise it is about watching a bunch of guys (mostly and mostly badly groomed) staring into a screen, eating Captain Crunch, drinking Pepsi, and crashing in the wee hours of the morning, waking up, sniffing their shirts and starting in again. I won’t bore you with how I know these things.

Though it’s tentatively titled “Silicon Valley,” crews have been regularly spotted in San Francisco, including a hilltop Castro district mansion dubbed the Villa by its residents. Complete with a pool in the backyard, its occupants include English siblings Hermione and Ben Way. They are two of five confirmed entrepreneurs who appear in the show.

That group has also been seen partying at a house on Scott Street in Alamo Square known as Factory Zero. The cast was last spotted with about half a dozen friends and Bravo’s cameras among the 250 people attending the Winery SF’s Fourth of July barbecue party on Treasure Island.

Yeah, the heart of Silicon Valley is in the Castro.

The show, expected to air late this year, is being produced by Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager of Den of Thieves. Their production company is best known for producing the annual MTV Video Music Awards, but it was also behind former 49ers star Terrell Owens’ three-season reality show on VH1.

Also listed as executive producer is Randi Zuckerberg – sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Her brother wasn’t happy about his portrayal in the hit film “The Social Network.” So many in the valley were surprised when she announced in April her role in a show said to be inspired by the film’s success.

OK, so they saw the wild Standford co-ed party scene in the movie and thought that this was what life with engineers was like?

Lacy, who’s covered tech since the first bubble, said the show appears to be nothing like she’s witnessed.

“The problem is that this is people living in a grand mansion, doing yoga in their backyard, pretending to be the next Mark Zuckerberg,” she said.

Tech writer and author Gary Rivlin, who has regularly covered Silicon Valley, said the reality is that the people working at the most interesting companies live the most uninteresting lives.

“They are their computer till 2 a.m., they gobble up some cereal and soda and then crash,” he said.

Told ya so!

None of that, though, makes for entertaining television. But bikini-clad women and bottles of vodka at a pool party do.

Told ya so!

As for “Silicon Valley,” the show’s crew has been spotted in the actual Silicon Valley too: Late last month, they filmed at Palo Alto restaurant Calafia.

Told ya so!

Maybe it’s not too late for Bravo to option Brisket®‘s show once it is cancelled on Lifetime. I think that they have the same corporate owners.


Somewhere, Carol Bartz* is laughing

There is a club. You are not in it.

Silicon Valley has been on the edge of our collective seats this week waiting for the Fates to determine, well, the fate of Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson, he of the mysteriously awarded CS Masters Degree from a college that doesn’t offer one, at least not at that time that his resume claims that he earned it.

Anyway, in the land of credentials (it is common here for people to state at the beginning of meetings their colleges, degrees, and honor society memberships, and I wish I was kidding about that) to have someone rise in the ranks without a degree is not unusual (see Faceberg, Mark or Jobs, Steve or even Ellison, Larry), and is somewhat an expected archetype. However, having someone rise in the ranks with a wholly fictitious resume is somewhat unusual.

Now, if Yahoo! was a small and stable tech company, I suppose this story of false credentials would probably fly under the radar, but Yahoo! is anything but small and stable. It is still (amazingly) the most visited web portal on the internet, and even while it is understood by many to be in serious trouble, it is still a billion dollar company. One would think that when hiring a new CEO that someone, somewhere, might have the job of vetting the candidates.

Maybe the thinking is that Thompson who came to Yahoo! from PayPal (a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay) was already vetted by his previous employer, and I suppose that he was, so why bother vet him again? After all, if (then eBay and now HP CEO) Meg Whitman hired him, well, he’s gotta be as good as Skype. (Meg bought Skype but did not buy the intellectual property rights, or apparently the source code… eBay sold Skype–or whatever it was that Meg bought–back to Skype’s founders and overall lost tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars on the deal after she left eBay.)

Anyway, since it was revealed about a week ago that Thompson’s credentials are anything but real, he’s apologized multiple times to the remaining Yahoo! employees (he’d already laid of 2,000 of ‘em), his apologists have issued numerous explanations (including that an executive recruitment company inserted the degree and he never noticed), and the media has had numerous, thoughtful “conversations” about resumé padding. No one has used the ugly words, lied or liar. Mistake, scandal, I swear I even saw boo-boo; the language has been gentle.

Scott Thompson is a liar. He lied about an easily fact-checked degree on his resume, which makes him an idiot as well as a liar. The people who vetted his candidacy are idiots. They should be walked out the door, too. For cause.

And before we get into the padding a resume vs. lying ethical discussion, I think that there is a world of difference between including the unpaid internship working for your father and declaring you have a degree from an accredited university. Let’s not go there. There is no way to spin it to his advantage.

So there is a strange and terrible object-lesson to this story. Someone who managed to lie his way into the boardrooms and upper echelons of corporate America, literally climbed into the 1% got caught in what I can only think would be a career-killing lie, and he was not walked out the door immediately as you or I would be. (True story: I saw know someone who was fired for claiming to know Power Point. This person is just as credentialed as Scott Thompson and clearly more honest, so in theory s/he could be running Yahoo!)

I don’t wish ill will on any working stiff. Scott Thompson will fail upwards. His departure press release doesn’t mention it, but I’m sure he got a handsome golden parachute for his less than 6 months tenure (January 4, 2012 to today). Thompson’s family will never know hunger or insecurity. He will find himself at another company or more likely at a hedge fund or venture capital fund; maybe Meg will hire him to work at HP.

UPDATE 1: Yahoo! has named an interim CEO, Ross Levinsohn, who helped steer (Fox) News Corp’s acquisition of MySpace. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

*Carol Bartz was the previous CEO of Yahoo! who was fired over the phone in 2011.

New Year’s Day

Sorry for the absence, taking care of some chores today. As per my tradition I take a walk and scatter wild flower seeds in the empty lots and other wild places around my neighborhood; some years I’m just feeding the birds, other years a thousand poppies bloom. Anyway, it’s a nice day for a walk, and as my Dad always said, leave the campground better than you found it.

There are no editors

From the local fishwrap:

The Google (GOOG) executive who deftly used social media to spark the Egyptian revolution arrived for the first time where he said he belongs — Silicon Valley — imploring a group of young Internet entrepreneurs Thursday to “change the world” with their next invention.

He did that? Really? So all those years of a repressive regime had nothing to do with it? All of those people were just waiting for some yahoo from The Google (heh) to step in and lead a revolution?

(Mercury News)

Great Expectations

The other day, when Mock, Paper, Scissors was linked at Crooks and Liars (thank you, Batocchio), one of the other blogs linked, The Political Cat, concluded their post with:

And one thing [The GOP] should remember, no one ever gets rich in a vacuum. Corporations should especially be concerned about that. If there is no middle class because we have all become poverty stricken serfs, who is going to buy their product? No one, that is who, and as we spiral into the poverty they are imposing on us, their gravy train ends.

Which is a fine bit of writing, but it comes a bit too late.

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