Are Silicon Valley Techies Becoming 'The Man'?

In the good old days, technology types were viewed as likeable geeks, the underdogs everyone could root for. But these days, techies are seen as wealthy elite. How did they become the most despised group of the Valley?

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Armstrong's missteps followed on the heels of yet another silly statement made by a Silicon Valley tech billionaire. In a Wall Street Journal letter to the editor, venture capitalist Tom Perkins compared the treatment of wealthy Americans to the Nazi's persecution of Jews. Backlash ensued, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers quickly distanced itself from its founder's comments.

Perkins only made the situation worse when he issued a non-apology hinting that the reader was at fault. "I deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-Semitism," he wrote.

A few months before the Perkins snafu, Greg Gopman, founder of AngelHack, infamously posted a rant on Facebook that also fanned the flames of class warfare.

"In downtown SF the degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy, they act like they own the center of the city," Gopman wrote. "There is an area of town for degenerates and an area of town for the working class. There is nothing positive gained from having them so close to us."

Geeks Over Harvard Grads

Outrageous comments from tech titans have made them persona non grata and increased the disconnect between the super wealthy and, well, the rest of us. These days Silicon Valley arrogance is turning off just about everyone, from comedians to mothers to Harvard Business School grads, who risk losing financially to the new tech elite.

Earlier this month at a conference in Boston put on by Harvard Business School's venture capital and private equity club, Chamath Palihapitiya, founder of the venture capital fund Social+Capital Partnership based in Palo Alto, Calif., told attendees that they probably won't be invited to the party.

According to the New York Times, Palihapitiya said entrepreneurs with technical prowess, such as an oddball computer programmer who uses a computer mouse with his feet, will come up with the next world-changing ideas and score the necessary venture capital to make them happen -- not those with a keen sense of traditional financial instruments.

"It's really unfair to you guys, but I think you're discriminated against now," Palihapitiya said, adding, "I would bet a large amount of money that the overwhelming majority of us would not look favorably on a company started by one of you."

Welcome to the Silicon Valley Haters Club.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple, BYOD and Consumerization of IT for Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Tom at

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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