Vivek Haldar

Money in the Valley

I think the technology press is doing us all a disservice by focusing so much on the money. If you read the tech press, 90% of the coverage is about valuations and exits and how much the primaries made. To someone not familiar with the real culture of Silicon Valley, this all looks very similar to Wall Street, which is the furthest thing from reality.

Now I’m certainly not trying to say that money is not important, and that it should not be discussed. Everybody needs to make a living. Everybody needs to feel secure. But what the tech press is missing is the entirely different attitude that true Valley entrepreneurs have towards money.

The Wall Street attitude towards money is to use it for two primary things: status, and insurance. As you get more money, you get to buy more expensive toys. You also have the secure feeling that no matter what problem you face, you can throw money at it to solve it.

But Silicon Valley is very different. First of all, there is almost no status hierarchy. Billionaires dress the same way that Ramen-eating fresh graduates do – in well-worn jeans and t-shirts. Fresh graduates address them by their first names, and have irreverent, spirited debates with them. Pulling rank is considered to be extremely poor form.

Money is treated differently. Its primary purpose is to be used as fuel. Fuel to get somewhere. Fuel to do new things. Fuel for an infinite game.