Silicon Valley is dead or dying…

…and Andy Grove, the founder of Intel agrees with me.

Long-time readers know that I have been saying this for years (usually each time that idiot Thomas Friedman does another one of his misguided [tax][immigration][other] breaks for entrepreneurs essays), we have a policy problem that is encouraging manufacturers to offshore our jobs and it is hurting us in ways we cannot imagine. Andy Grove can, and does in the essay I link to at the top.

Here’s the part he does not say: we’ve already lost our technological lead, and we’ve lost at least one generation of technological leaders: what kid in her right mind would want to go into Science or Engineering after watching what has happened to the current scientists and engineers? These kids have seen their parents kicked to the curb after literally decades of 80 hour weeks, deferred vacations, broken marriages, and absentee parenting because the next release is so important.

These kids have watched their parents split up, and go broke when in middle age (and later) their employer has outsourced their jobs to college-aged employees in the low-wage third world. And I promise you this: these kids, the ones who by nurture and nature should be the next wave of Brainiacs creating the next wave of tech marvels, are not going to be from the US. Not a chance.

(Full disclosure: I’ve met Andy Grove. He’s brilliant. He’s earnest. He’s speaking what he believes is the truth.)

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8 Responses to Silicon Valley is dead or dying…

  1. Reamus says:

    An excellent piece by a very thoughtful man. It is worse than I thought it was, that is certain. Thanks for the link, Ten.


  2. Matty Boy says:

    80 hour weeks because the next release is so important.

    Brings back memories and not pleasant ones. I came up with the phrase “the culture of constant crisis”.

    I was out of the business when “Office Space” was released, but the first hour of that movie was one of the scariest horror films I had ever seen. And hysterically funny, because it wasn’t me anymore.


    • Tengrain says:

      Matty Boy – Office Space scaired the crap out of me. I saw it as a documentary, not as a comedy. I still don’t laugh at it.

      Any chance you’ve ever been to Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland? I was thinking about your post for the World Cup, and La Estrellita. I’m not sure I know it, now being in San Jo for half a lifetime; but I remember watching a previous World Cup at Eli’s (with a fake ID, I was a middle aged doctor, dontcha know), and it remains one of my favorite memories of growing up as an Acorn.




  3. DJCinSB says:

    I was just thinking today about how few of my colleagues (rocket scientists) these days were from the US. Europeans, Indians, Russians, and other nationalities, but very few Americans, and that’s in a field that generally can’t outsource overseas because of trade regulations.


  4. Oh, some U.S. kids will go into science and math….so they can move overseas to countries that are on the upswing. That’s what I’m telling my nephew and nieces (although I suggest grad school abroad to develop roots).


  5. Abu Scooter says:

    Here’s Grove’s money quote:

    “How could the U.S. have forgotten [about scaling]? I believe the answer has to do with a general undervaluing of manufacturing — the idea that as long as ‘knowledge work’ stays in the U.S., it doesn’t matter what happens to factory jobs.”

    Or programming jobs, or any jobs that actually produce anything. The trouble is that the definition of “knowledge work” — work that U.S. businesses deemed fit to be done here — kept changing. It changed over the years so that it covered fewer and fewer workers. Today’s “knowledge workers” seem to do nothing but supervise overseas workers, but under the logic championed by the Thomas Friemans and Carly Fiorinas of the world, those mangers still get credit for “producing” something. Since they get the credit, their bosses get the profit.

    And the rest of us get the shaft.


  6. After the caucuses in ’08, I went out for drinks with neighbors and other folks high on the somewhat participatory democracy we’d just experienced and we all got to talking. One woman in our party passionately defended the need to offshore American jobs because there was so much poverty around the world that if we could give them jobs it was a good thing. She didn’t have a domestic remedy for all the new jobless, but who cares. I really laid into her and you know what, I was the asshole for yelling at her. A little later, when I’d been separated out one of the people who was assigned to engage me in conversation until the uncomfortableness ended, stated flat out that the people doing the outsourced work weren’t even as good as those stateside, but he still saw no problem with the policy. It was un-fricking-believable.

    Interesting Grove had immigrated from Hungary after 1956. Maybe that’s why helps him to see the current nonsense so clearly. Eastern European absurdist sense of humor helps people sniff out a lot of crap before native born Americans even know there’s a problem


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