The November writing challenge has been much harder than I thought. It turns out that writing daily is a difficult habit to form. I missed a day last week, so technically, the challenge is already lost. Still, I am going to redouble my efforts not to miss another day. After years of writing constantly, sometimes as much as 3,000 words in a day without batting an eye, it’s funny that I now find it so difficult to rein in my wandering mind, focus, and write on a daily basis.
I spent some time away from San Francisco at a workshop that helped me assess my capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. And while it has set me back by a week, I feel calmer. I have a better handle over my thoughts and am better prepared to find ways to blend my work, my creativity, and my new obsession (photography, in case you didn’t already guess.)
As the week winds down, and Sunday quietly marches into the night, I can assuredly say that I didn’t miss Silicon Valley’s hypocrisy.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is a perfect example. On HBO’s “Axios,” he proclaimed that, because of the murder of journalist Jamaal Khashoggi, the car-hailing service is staying out of Saudi Arabia. His answer should tell you what it is all about. He called the killing a mistake and compared it to self -driving accident that killed an Arizona resident. The Saudi Kingdom is the fifth-largest shareholder in the company — and thus by extension, is Dara’s benefactor.
He later apologized and sent this statement to Axios; “I said something in the moment that I do not believe. When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”
In other words, new bottle but same old wine. Uber isn’t going to change, because it is not a company motivated by doing better, but by greed and money.
But why pick on Uber? This week’s most terrible example of Silicon Valley culture came from Instacart, a company with such a dubious history of handling its freelance workforce that it makes a medieval baron’s treatment of his serfs seem almost benign.
Most recently, the Instacart shoppers posted a note on Medium, Ev Williams’ publishing platform, asking Instacart employees — you know, the engineers and others who are getting the big fat salaries — to speak out about the company. Shockingly, Instacart got Medium to take it down for allegedly violating the platform’s rules. I read the note. There was nothing in there but facts and simple statements of their position. What’s shocking is that it comes from a company that is a self-proclaimed bastion of hope and opportunity for the written word.
Simply put, this is censorship, Silicon Valley-style. Funny, even smart guys don’t realize that the Internet doesn’t forget. Here is a link to the note that was taken down by Medium. (PS: That is why you need to own your little place on the Internet: otherwise you are always tilling someone else’s land.)
Let’s face it: The revolution is over. Money trumps everything — and that is the new reality of Silicon Valley. Next time you hear anyone say that Silicon Valley companies are better than other corporations, just laugh and then walk away. Hypocrisy is the new normal.
I am going back to reading and responding to emails. My inbox is overflowing with messages.
November 10, 2019, San Francisco