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7 things Silicon Valley needs to stop doing in 2017

Mike Elgan | Jan. 3, 2017
I love you, Silicon Valley. You know I do. But there are a few things you keep doing that exasperate everyone.

Silicon Valley is an amazing place of innovation. It's a geek Mecca, a destination for professional nerds -- the technology capital of the world.

Silicon Valley is the only district in the world where people know more about the Wojcickis than the Kardashians, are more likely to have an elevator pitch than a committed relationship, and are more familiar with Github than with snow.

So many of the products and services that have transformed our world for the better were cooked up here. Today's smartphones, social sites, search engines and app-centric sharing economy services like Uber and AirBnB were all dreamed up by young visionaries in towns like Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, San Jose and San Francisco.

Despite the best efforts of city planners around the world, Silicon Valley cannot be replicated. The Silicon Valley miracle is not the product of incentives, zoning, universities or planning. It's the product of culture -- a perfect blend of utopian, hippy, business, researcher, hacker, inventor and imperial mindsets.

But this mindset has a dark side. And now that tech has gone so thoroughly mainstream, the dark side is more apparent and affects and annoys more people.

Here are the seven things Silicon Valley needs to stop doing in 2017.

1. Stop using the 'D' word (disrupt)

Silicon Valley moguls and entrepreneurs talk about "disruption" as a primary goal for their businesses.

Here in Silicon Valley, the word "disrupt" is code for fixing something. 

The assumption is that something out there is deeply flawed and by applying Silicon Valley pixie dust -- apps, algorithms or artificial intelligence -- that flawed thing can be fixed with a better way to do things.

Outside Silicon Valley, the word "disrupt" is code for breaking something.

People own or work for businesses that have or could be targeted by some tech company for "disruption." If you own a small trucking company, and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur starts talking about "disrupting" the trucking industry, he's talking about crushing your business and taking away your livelihood to make himself a billionaire.

Silicon Valley, stop trying to transfer wealth from the many to the few. Stop trying to do a scorched earth on traditional industries. Instead seek out win-win business that benefit as many people as possible. 

2. Stop pretending you're not a media company

I'm talking to you, Facebook, and all you companies out there with Facebook-envy. If users publish or share content on your site, and you do anything to that content -- algorithmical sort or filter it, delete it for objectionable themes or offer "top stories"-type favoritism, guess what? You're a media company. You're not like the phone company. You're like a newspaper company, with all the attendant social and editorial responsibilities thereof.


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