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Is it time to occupy Silicon Valley?

In my latest column for VentureBeat, I try to make some sense of the Occupy movement and its relevance to Silicon Valley. I was wondering why the protestors weren’t targeting local icons of wealth and power, like VC firms, Google, Oracle and Apple.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized there were good reasons for this. But there’s still something a little off about the relationship between wealth and social responsibility here.

Here’s an excerpt from the column. Let me know what you think.

I’ll admit, I’m a bit confused by the movement and its targets — but the answer, I think, has to do with the way finance works in Silicon Valley versus Wall Street.

In broad strokes, Silicon Valley investors are focused on building huge, billion-dollar companies. While you can get to a billion dollar valuation, at least temporarily, with a really weak, unscalable idea, you can’t stay there long without creating something of real value. You certainly can’t create a billion dollars in revenue without doing something meaningful — and, by the way, employing a lot of people along the way.

Wall Street, by contrast, defines “innovation” in terms of new financial instruments: investment vehicles that are increasingly complex and hard to understand and that do little for the country besides generate record profits for the banks that invented them.

Full story: Dylan’s Desk: Is it time to occupy Silicon Valley? | VentureBeat.


  1. Lynda

    Dylan – I mostly agree. It would be interesting though to do a really good analysis of which industry destroys more US jobs, technology or banking. — LyndaR

  2. Mark Armstrong

    You’re right: an iPad or an iPod is a lot easier to relate to than a complex financial instrument (the latter being useless anyway, if one has no $ to invest). I think Hip vs. Stodgy is part of that same comparison.

    Also: OWS is a liberal movement. I think most people in that camp consider Steve Jobs to be “cool”– a rebel like them (even tho a good case can be made for his being an iron-fisted uncompromising mogul). He gave them gadgets. Gadgets are good, gadgets are cool. Ditto Bill Gates: he’s a Tax Me, I’m Rich guy like Warren Buffet. So to a considerable extent, Silicon Valley guys have a certain immunity from liberal wrath. Cheers, Mark

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