Historically, technology -- even when it has caused massive disruptions -- has generally enhanced people's lives by freeing them from a harsh constraint imposed by nature. If you have a refrigerator and a microwave, you don't have to worry so much about gathering food and spending all day cooking. If you have birth control, you don't have to worry about choosing between your sex life and your future.
Much of what Silicon Valley has produced in the past 10 years is software and platforms that 1) actually appeal to base, primitive instincts via advertising and 2) directly reduce human liberty by constraining privacy.
We need technology that has a purpose. It seems like the EU is the only governing body that actually understands this.
Literal quote from my mother when I explained Project Dragonfly to her. (She's not a person who cusses often.)
Hell, it even made it into Back to the Future: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlUgBDgH1po
Seriously, this is what America was terrified of.
It was the beginning of America's decline everyone thought.
It didn't turn out that way at all.
there's already social unrest happening as China is getting its ass beat in the trade war
His quote about hard work and long hours:
>"Second, we need to learn the hard working spirit of Silicon Valley. If we go to work at 8am and go home at 5pm, this is not a high tech company, and Alibaba wil never be successful."
Apparently, of the 17 people in that room, only 1 joined/invested in Alibaba. Intense startups are definitely not the right lifestyle for most people.
I'm in the UK. With a bootstrapped startup. I get no problems contacting US companies. Each upper level manager, VP or even CEO that I contact are all excited about the project. Have no issues getting a service provider onboard.
Juxtapose this with a UK or EU company, where lets face it. There's no bootstrap startup culture at all.
Anyway, here's my anecdotes:-
- If I contact the sales or info mailbox on the website. I don't get a response. Even after 2 or 3 more follow ups.
- If I contact the sales team by phone, no one is ever available. They are permanently busy.
- If I do manage to get in contact with someone, they tell me to send information over and they don't call back.
- If I do manage to get a VP/Director email address. I send out the initial email and then I hear silence back. Follow on emails just get ignored.
The US and UK/Europe mentality are completely different. In the US you can start in your basement, garage or even on the streets and fight your way to a unicorn. There is infrastructure available to make a success and everyone has a vested interest in that.
In the UK/Europe it seems, the general feeling that I get. Is that unless you have sold a major stake to a VC/Accelerator, there's no way you'll succeed!
Also everyone wants a slice of your company for free because in all honesty, they are a bunch of freeloaders. I've had 5 instances already of companies telling me they can partner with me for 5-10% of equity. I just ignore them.
I've never done internationalization, but I'm surprised language could be such a barrier. Couldn't you just hire a team of translators on a contract basis?
Maybe theres's some market for internationalization-as-a-service.
In the US if you get the hype going about your startup, get mentioned by a few high-profile newspapers, news programs and Instagram celebs you can ramp up pretty quickly. In Europe your brand can be mainstream enough that it becomes a common name in Italy while at the same time nobody ever heard of you in Germany.
Ever heard of Skyblog? I remember that in the early 2000's it was basically French Myspace. It was spawned by a French radio but became super popular on its own, all the French teens back then had a "Skyblog" (and an MSN messenger account). How many non-francophone Europeans have heard of a Skyblog? Not many I'd wager. Actually I doubt that even today's French teenagers know what a Skyblog is, they're using Instagram and whatever else while Skyblog is joining the Minitel as a footnote in the history of the French internet.
Also, culture and language are major barriers in the european market, legislation less so (especially if you ship physical products).
EDIT: Another example countering your point is Sweden/Stockholm. Tiny population, high number of startups and unicorns.
Jordan for example has the same population size as Sweden, that's about where the similarities end.
Sweden, along with Canada and Australia, are just about ideal micro US versions in technology, in terms of potential to pull off your scaling of activity. Good market economies, relatively robust technology societies and technology economies, high GDP per capita and incomes, plenty of wealth and capital to invest, stable open societies with respect for human rights, english language use giving them global benefits (Sweden having one of the world's highest english language adoption rates, outside of primarily english speaking countries), and so on.
Japan has far less spending power per capita - disposable income - than the US, and their economic output per capita is similarly far lower. Their cost of living is not far lower to offset. US GDP per capita will be around $63,000 for 2018. Japan is down around $38,000 to $40,000. Culturally Japan has historically not been friendly to risk taking, entrepreneurial activity. That has shifted some over the last 10-15 years, but not immensely (it's starting from an extreme where a long corporate career was the only acceptable path). There's a considerable difference between Sweden and Japan on that conservativism. Japan also is very different at a macro level, they put themselves into a particularly bad 20+ year debt trap that has robbed their economy of the surplus capital it needs to invest into expansion and innovation.
Germany is doing OK, in regards to technology and tech start-ups. They've lagged a bit in the transition from old industrial to new technology , it appears to be a cultural problem that is acting as friction. Culturally they're not nearly as dynamic on entrepreneurism as Sweden has become. Perhaps it's just easier to change directions at the scale of Sweden than Germany, with all the entrenched institutions and large conglomerates that Germany has.
To me the key is to embrace new ideas, think big and have the drive to deliver.
An example: Deliveroo is doing extremely well in many markets around the world but is a British company. Interestingly the founder is... American of Chinese origin.
Same with becoming wildly successful. In America those people are looked up to as role models. In many parts of the EU, being the "tall poppy" is a bad thing.
Let's not forget that harmonizing these rules is one of the major points of the EU in the first place.
I'd really like to ask these VC's and corporate leaders "Are 12 hour work days 6 days a week where every movement of your workers are tracked something you'd like to see as a cultural norm?"
I think it is up to employees and entrepreneurs here in the US to push back against this march to longer and longer work days. Our physical and emotional health is far more important than a title or a few extra dollars. The well balanced life is a wealthy life.
1. "American style startups" only make single digit percentage of the whole tech industry in China. And out of those, the "cult like" make even less.
2. "the American style startup" model is seen here with a lot of scepticism. Some call it a model for failure, and justly so.
3. There are not so few very well run companies in China, including, surprise, factories! I don't know a single factory owner who is not aware how dangerous overworked workforce can be for the bottom line. A single misplaced component can fry a few thousand dollars TV set. A single labour action, can end his business.
4. Becoming "more Western" is not a success model for a Chinese company. It became clear to me as as a rule of thumb, when a Chinese company invites "cool American MBA boys," things begin to go wrong very fast.
5. So are Chinese businesses that competitive after all? Yes and no: Yes, as for that the capability to outcompete American companies "fair and square" is there. And no, for that the company that could've buried countless strong American competitors will never take their place, never become a household name, never list on a stock market, never own a skyscraper office, and may not even have a website — it will forever remain a no name OEM in a grey factory building in a dusty industrial town.
6. "What's the trick?" The answer is: "the trick is that there are no tricks." Whatever place under the sun Chinese companies wrestled from Western competitors was achieved with nothing but sweat, blood, grit, and perseverance.
The best thing China has introduced me to was an entirely different, bullshit free work culture centred on value: contract, payment, and CAD files in the morning — widgets ready in the evening, without any manager in the loop.
If a Western business wants to do as well as a Chinese competitor these days, their corporate boffins should try doing that as their starting point
I would strongly, STRONGLY recommend my kids to not pursue IT as a career at all - better be a civil engineer or even a plumber or a lawyer or a family Doctor and live a good life with good money.
Civil engineer = except for the top tier branch smart people will find a difficult community fit, moderate to modest money, too many external influences towards the discipline, seemingly prime for disruption by the tech world (already happening).
Lawyer and family doctor = too many hours in school and then too many hours in work (generally).
Disclaimer: I'm a civil engineer, work alongside plumbing engineers, know zero actual plumbers, fiancee is doctor, looking to pursue law.
Definitely worse for the work/life balance metric. But I think it is unfair to yourself if you seek careers based on how little or how much you work. Sometimes you are just looking for something fulfilling. It is the problematic misc/admin problems surrounding the cool stuff that cause you to lose your passion. Like knowing the dismal outcome of a work beforehand, but having to do it anyway without success because someone else said so.
A forgotten rule for me: Know your [unique] strengths, Find your fit, Swing hard at the pitches, and serve the community with what God gave you as uniquely yours because that is your duty. But don't forget everything else you have to do too (this causes a natural work/life balance).
Disruption is a good word. With newer tech, you find newer capabilities, and therefore seek a newer fit in your career. Some areas of medicine are getting more impacted than others (radiology, surgery). Others are becoming better facilitated (cardiology, nephrology). But probably the most difficult cases doctors have to deal with is when a patient has multiple problems (old age, diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clot). If a doctor has 1 or 2 patients like that, all of their time gets sucked up in those cases. So the answer is tech advances in medicine is welcomed/needed and/or disruptive based on the area of study.
For Civil, the field is dominated more by government clients than private clients. And government divisions for infrastructure maintenance and improvement are far too closed and opaque, too rigid for outsiders to propose tech advances, and too authoritarian for consultants to slip them in. On the private client side, building design dominates as prime allowing for better advancement by tech. But Civil Engineers are way too backwards in their minds and resist these kinds of improvements. So tech companies are taking the lead (sidewalk labs, google moonshot Flux) here. And civil engineers are unwillingly getting into formation (monkey ordered, monkey do).
On the other hand, I look at all Western social apps and cringe: Facebook made a big deal from launching their instant games for messenger, Twitch from allowing some extra monetization options, YouTube actually reducing opportunities for people to make money.
Look at China with their WeChat, Weibo, bilibili, QQ and many more..
I wish I could open Facebook, start doing a live and people can send me money (red packets, rockets, cute cats, auspicious objects etc.) for doing it, right there.
Meanwhile there's the EU where if you receive 5E, you have the IRS from 28 countries breathing down your neck, asking for their cut, fining you, smacking a GDPR notice because why not and passing legislation to "enable" competitive startups similar to the US (/semi-sarcastic).
What happened to the dream of letting technology do the work for us, giving us vast leisure time and taking the burden of survival off? These executives seem so driven towards some ever-changing unobtainable goal that I don't think they will be ever satiated with people just... living.
That's handy! You could read the article linked above, which presents the opposite picture.
“I’m not worried so much about my portfolio companies not working as hard as the Chinese companies,” said Mr. Chan, now a partner at Felicis Ventures. “I’ll worry when they’re less creative and less efficient.”
It's also tricky territory, however, as it's actually an economic imperialist perspective. Ie, pining for a Western quality-of-life reminiscent of the 195X-2008 period all but guarantees that, somewhere else on the planet, swathes of your fellow man will be systematically fucked over to facilitate your bubble.
Employees become less and less important in the grand scheme of things. Especially when there are millions of people competing for every position, a way to distinguish yourself in these environments is through either a higher education or being more driven (willing to work/die for your company). I'm sure the burn out rate is high.
> We don't know a perfected totalitarian power structure, because it would require the control of the whole planet. But we know enough about the the still preliminary experiments of total organization to realize that the very well possible perfection of this apparatus would get rid of human agency in the sense as we know it. To act would turn out to be superfluous for people living together, when all people have become an example of their species, when all doing has become an acceleration of the movement mechanism of history or nature following a set pattern, and all deeds have become the execution of death sentences which history and nature have given anyway.
-- Hannah Arendt
To me that's basically what the driving force of totalitarianism is in a nutshell, people who can't stand themselves and want to get rid of (the agency and the ability to judge of) free humans, and ultimately themselves, consciously or not.
Insofar a person is cut off from themselves and depends solely on external validation, colossal projects that are "objectively impressive" are just perfect. Working hours, money earned, daily active users, anything of that kind of metric is great because it never asks you who you are. The more metrics, the better. That it never ends and never quite satisfies is actually a desired quality where the main goal to not achieve something, but to run away from oneself.
> The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.
If you want to get somewhere with others that isn't far off, a nice walk with calm conversations where everybody gets to speak might be a good way to do it. But if you don't care or can barely see where you're going because it's mostly drowned out by fear and insecurity, driving in circles endlessly in loud race cars, while communicating mostly with equally driven drivers over the radio, is so much better.
HN exists for other things: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html
There seems to be a demographic shift happening on HN, away from rational and genuinely interested technologists and business people, and toward college kids who haven't done anything and don't know anything, trying to sound smart and then throwing a temper tantrum whenever anything political comes up.
How a community in aggregate behaves when certain topics are brought up is more than just an isolated event, it's a litmus test for what kind of community it is and the kind of people it is attracting. I think I'm done participating entirely.
What's changed is that society is becoming increasingly polarized. HN isn't immune from macro trends.
You won't become a billionaire by enjoying life on basic income.
There's nothing that you could possibly want that costs that much. A drive for that much money to me indicates a form of emotional damage where one no longer has a rational relationship with a numeric self-assessment.
Henry Ford perhaps came closest with 20 years of only “unofficial” control of the company he founded.
What about your own space station to name one thing from the top of my head? Then again 1 billion wouldn't be nearly enough.
The real problem is that becoming a billionaire is statistically an abnormal outcome of that kind of life. Some people have jumped from a plane without parachute and survived. The fact that happened shouldn't be an argument to do the same.
Or they will fight over it, get pestered by the media, have people beg for investments etc.
> Sensing skepticism from the fisherman, the businessman moves onto the next boat and finds a more receptive fisherman. The two, sensing an obvious business opportunity, decide to go into business together. They raise a venture capital round and a year later, return to the pier outfitted with a dozen high tech fishing boats.
> Immediately, the price of tuna at the pier drops threefold with increased supply, forcing the young Mexican fisherman to increase his hours at sea just to maintain his existing standard of living.
> Shortly thereafter, all of the shallow water tuna have been caught and the young Mexican fisherman discovers his tiny boat is incapable of deep water fishing. Because of his limited savings, he does not have enough capital to invest in a deep water fishing boat and he is forced to sell his tiny fishing boat for pennies on the dollar as scrap because advances in technology have made it obsolete.
> After discovering that there is limited demand for an employee whose only skills are watching ballgames, playing the guitar and taking siestas, the young Mexican fisherman finds his only option is to take a job working minimum wage on one of the businessman’s fishing vessels.
> Several years later, the fisherman’s joints are shot through from the hard manual labor of operating on a commercial fishing vessel and an ill timed lift of a 150lb pallet of tuna finally causes his back to give way, causing permanent crippling. The fisherman discovers intensive lobbying from the businessman has weakened workplace protection rules and the fisherman is summarily let go with only a paltry settlement.
> After years of expensive medical treatments and crippling bills, the fisherman is finally forced to sell his land, passed along to him from generation to generation, to a development conglomerate run by the businessman who is buying large tracts of the entire village.
> Unbeknownst to the fisherman, the businessman has lobbied for the village to turn into a protected nature reserve, allowing for the rehabilitation of the environment and the restocking of fish in it’s pristine waters. The businessman painstakingly recreates the quaint, costal charm of the village he once visited, making it a paradise where the wealthy flock to when they want to retire into a life of easy indolence.
> Finally, 15 – 20 years after the original conversation, the fisherman and his wife are found dead in a homeless shelter. Meanwhile, the businessman retires to the village having made two successive fortunes first in fisheries and then in real estate development. He spends his days sleeping late, playing with his grandchildren, watching high def ESPN ballgames on a 70″ TV, and taking siesta with his wife. He occasionally strolls down to the village in the evenings where he regales his fellow millionaires with the story of how he found an unexploited niche in the marketplace and then took full advantage of it to make the fortune that got him to the comfortable retirement he enjoys today.
Much like the original story, this is of course a fairy tale - I doubt the businessman in question would put much effort towards the rehabilitation of the village's environment. Environmentalism rarely improves a business' bottom line - if it did, we'd see a lot more businesses lobbying for it.
When a millionaire wants to take a vacation, they plan it out just like you or I do, even if they’re going to a cooler place or staying at a fancier hotel. When a billionaire wants to take a vacation, they just take it.
Seems a bit more likely than sitting around playing harps and petting lambs for an eternity.
However IMO civilization overall needs all the scientific and technological advancement possible, and then some more - if it is to survive beyond the next 50-60 years. ( 50-60 yrs : a guesstimate of how long the earth will remain habitable )
However IMO the direst predictions you refer to are probably assuming a continuation of the current levels of resource consumption/ecosystem destruction.
But IMO it's far more likely that resource consumption in all its forms will keep increasing at a breakneck pace with every technological advance - thus accelerating the march to uninhabitability.
If anything, to me the lesson of the last century is that we've changed too fast with too little forethought.
Maybe not zero sum, but you can't have the rich without the poor.
If you lose the race, you may very well end up among the poor.
We were talking to companies only a couple of years old that had hundreds of millions of users – and that wasn't a standout/unicorn.
This is scary
This seems to be a hollow fear. Working that much seems like it would do more harm than good.
> While Silicon Valley start-ups raise funding every 18 to 24 months on average, the group was told that the most successful Chinese companies do it every six months. It isn’t unusual for a hot start-up to raise funding three to four times a year
edit changed 669 to 996 :)
> The reaction from a group of Silicon Valley executives: Wow.
> “We’re so lazy in the U.S.!” blurted Wesley Chan, a venture capital investor, on the first day of what would be a weeklong journey into the Chinese technology scene.
Uh, how about not. That is the complete wrong response to that. I understand Wesley might have just been trying to lighten the mood or be nice but let's not encourage working yourself to death.
No, he's a VC so he's probably 100% serious. VC's aren't going to fund founders who think they can build a successful business by limiting themselves 8-to-5 and 40 hours a week.
Another famous VC Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital expressed the same praise about working hard like the Chinese. Famous seed investor Ron Conway has said similar qualifications of a founder. ("Well I mean are you willing to work 24/7? The really great entrepreneurs are 24/7.")
Likewise, if you're an entrepreneur that prioritizes the principle of "work/life balance" and 40-hours-a-week, VCs are not the right investor for you.
Edit: In fact, I can't think of any way to destroy productivity than attempting to work 24 hours a day for any length of time.
One round through the startup/VC/IPO/acquisition world was enough for me - I like building stuff too much.
E.g. Many offices that have salaried "40 hours/week" jobs have expectations of employees showing up at ~8:00am, leaving ~5:00pm, with an unpaid 1 hour lunch in between. Same inexact math reason that we also call 9-to-5 "40 hours" instead of "37.5 hours" even though some workers take a half hour lunch break.
That's not the same definition for "work" though, and basically a lot of office time socializing, and watching over people, etc. I doubt that is 2x productivity from 9-5 M-F
I suppose when you’re a superpower up against the other superpowers, then maybe how you stack up against prosperous small republics with small armies and a high standard of living isn’t the point though.
Some work hard of course. Nobody puts in ling hard hours.
You can either work hard or work long. They are mutually exclusive. Such is life.
You put in the type of work your boss appreciates.
That said: you can always squeeze in another email or another meeting. Manager mode thrives under long hours.
Try to squeeze in another hour of creating and you just spend 2 hours fixing it tomorrow.
The white collar workers actually aren’t necessarily lazy though, which is why the bullshit work thing is kinda tragic.
Do VCs often fund companies that are full of people working 2+ manual labor jobs?
I wouldn’t call that lazy though, just counter productive.
But if the system's only optimization criterion is the bottom line, then this is the expected outcome.
Imagine I said the following: "The ecosystem exists for the welfare of the animals." This would strike you as absurd.
The economy exits because of people; it does not exist for people. In the limit of perfect competition, we should expect a race to the bottom, provided imperfect coordination.
We tend to attribute their success to corruption, exploitation, or brute-force (given their population). But, could it be that they have something going for them? Maybe they are as capable as we are, as productive as we are, and also are putting the extra work.
Don't get me wrong, I believe this is totally unhealthy for individuals. But it doesn't seem unreasonable for me that a highly capable and motivated individual would indeed produce more in 16 than in 8 hours, health and normal life aside.
You need to talk to Chinese tech employees who were formerly working/living in China and are now in the US. They will have nothing but bad things to say about the work culture in China, regarding both management and the employees under them, with plenty of examples / horror stories.
Don't just take HN comments at their word, do a little work on your part and get some first-hand information so you can form a less biased opinion. Even better, go work in China for a bit :)
> Maybe they are as capable as we are, as productive as we are, and also are putting the extra work.
I 100% agree with this and don't think I suggested otherwise. My comment was in no way meant to take away from the incredible work of many people. I don't doubt that many people have worked long hours and absolutely think people are equally capable regardless of where they come from.
I just think it is ridiculous to suggest that other economies should participate in a race to the bottom of who can work their citizens to death
We detached it from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18407327.
Be it art, science, business, relationships, longevity, finance or knowledge, the human condition is we're never satisfied with where we are.
Which is good or we'd still be living in caves.
You'd need quite a few obstacles/penalties to make a rationally acting company not jump on the more money bandwagon. Whether that's shareholders with that inclination and enough power to block such actions, blow back from other parts of the company(customers boycott/supplier not supplying/workers walkout) to lower the value of Chinese deals, or laws and regulations that make dealing with China while disregarding ethical issues less profitable.
In that non exhaustive list on making companies behave ethically the first two are "vote with your wallet" the last is "vote with your vote".
Both the left and right vote with their wallet on these issues, but when it comes to the laws and regulations it is fair to say that the right has a more laissez faire approach than not to adding regulations and laws. It's also arguably this one that is most effective with very large or monopolistic companies (as there are more barriers to voting with your wallet).
Thus the left blaming the right for not coming to the party on regulations that would stop or regulate this. I'll point out that this is just one viewpoint on why those more to the right can be blamed for this and ofcourse it misses the underpinnings of why the right to left spectrum differ on their views to the spectrum of regulation. I'd expect that those underpinnings would be part of why you feel changing your mind on the connection would be climbing Everest. Still, I'd hope you agree that it's not straight "Blaming it on people who are not even proximal" as regulations do change company behaviour.
I'm not. Personally I think helping a leftwing authoritarian society is actually something that the SV leadership is interested in doing, because it is something they want for the US as well, and they want in at the top. I don't feel this is a very big leap from the demonstrated political proclivities of the area, what people say, or the actions being taken.
"Thus the left blaming the right for not coming to the party on regulations that would stop or regulate this."
Actually, if you want to fall back to "I blame the other people over there for not stopping us from doing this!", I'll take it. It's a silly argument but I'll take the premise it's based on without question. It's still you doing it. And I say "you" not necessarily as "greycol" personally, but because this is HN and the line workers actually doing this work are indeed here. And 95%+ of them are on the left.
Workers have no rights, unions are for communists, the best gov't is no gov't.
Not like it's completely his doing, the Teamsters endorsed him.
Reagan fired air traffic controllers who were striking illegally. It then makes the huge jump that this caused private sector companies to not negotiate.
I don't buy it.