"Those who work hard make good" is a profoundly American theme that dates back to Horatio Alger and before - it can hardly be said to originate from a cabal of VCs trying to "put one over" on hapless founders and startup employees in Silicon Valley. No doubt Mr. Arrington adds his peculiarly abrasive touch to the debate (toughen up, don't whine, and let's applaud Zynga for what it did to its employees), but he did something very similar not too long ago in chiding investors who were whining about being in the "middle of a terrible blubble" (http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/24/were-in-the-middle-of-a-ter...). Like it or not, this is his philosophy and outlook about what it takes to play the startup game. It is his expression of ideas and social commentary. One can disagree with it as much as one likes but it is unfair to say that this is nothing more than a con job. It is also unfair to take him to task for quoting from a publicly available source to support his idea of what the experiences of startup employees have been like in Silicon Valley - if the goal is to illustrate such experiences, then what better source to use than a diary whose purpose was precisely to document them. If the author of that diary wants to say, "no, that's not what I meant" in response, that is fine but that doesn't justify an ad hominem attack on the person using it to illustrate ideas he wants to espouse.
My point here is strictly about fair argumentation, not about the merits of the debate. Whether right or wrong on the merits, I think the author takes an unfair shot in the way he makes his points here. We all have ideas and core beliefs, even those who are VCs. We all should be free to express them without being accused of nefarious motives.
Everyone is free to express themselves, being accused is just a side effect of expression. Hell, Arrington took a stab at jwz in his response.
jwz's advice is extremely valid, it doesn't matter if it's about VCs or vending machines. You have to work hard, but you also have to work smart and be wary that there is always someone waiting to profit off of what you built, he never said it's always the VC.
Very well said. I wanted to comment along those lines but couldn't quite put it into words. As much as I dislike Arrington for being the dick that he is, I don't thing he's trying to "sell a con" or even to tell people to work hard. If anything, he's asking the whiners -- who's sole motivation is (supposedly) money -- to either stop whining or get out of the valley. His point is this: doing a startup is brutal; to survive you have to want building something more than anything, or you will not be able to stand the pain. It's a fair point.
> It is also unfair to take him to task for quoting from a publicly available source
Quotes which were already removed from their full context, taken further out of context by Arrington, with a shallow, incomplete understanding of the long-term consequences of the events being recounted.
Arrington has a Bachelor's in economics and a law degree, until 1999 he was a securities lawyer. He was still in law school when jwz was actually doing useful things and wrote those diary entries.
Arrington has never been an engineer of any kind. He has no concept of the kind of stress placed on engineers, little grasp of the work environments he wants people to put up with, and as a VC, has a massive conflict of interest.
Invoking a respected name through excerpts of a document that offered only a narrow, fuzzy window into what jwz went through in order to lure young hackers to an inevitable burnout for a likely reward of zilch is just scummy, and it is in no way unfair to call Arrington on his BS.
This isn't some highschool debate wankery. The arrington/jwz/arrington exchange is exactly as jwz characterized it: Arrington plus vcs in general selling a story to engineers that is pretty damn unlikely (a lottery, in fact) in order to enrich primarily themselves. jwz doesn't stand to benefit from people following his advice, while Arrington certainly does.
Further, the fact that you don't include Arrington giving advice that is quite probably not in the targeted recipients' best interests in order to advance the interests of both himself in particular and vcs in general as a "nefarious motive" is stupid.
I really don't think name calling is necessary. I mostly try to read HN without reading names, but some people, like grellas, earn a reputation by repeatedly making insightful comments. Plus, I don't think any of us here deserve to have our opinions called "stupid." You've been here a bit longer than I have, so I know I don't have to remind you, but in case others are reading, let's try to be slightly more civil.
As an aside, this is the second post I've made in as many days defending the comments of HN regulars. It almost sounds like I'm trying to appeal to the local "cool kids" for some strange reason, but in reality I just don't want to see some of HN's valuable contributors chased off by lowering the level of discourse when things get tense.
This exchange between Arrington and jwz strikes at the heart of the mythos that drives the HN community, so I realize things can get heated. As a startup founder myself it made me think carefully about some of my goals. Let's not allow that to lower our standards.
I welcome calling stupid attitudes just that — stupid.
Your comment reminds me this saying by Asimov:
Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding
its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured
by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance
is just as good as your knowledge.
1 - you'll note I didn't call grellas stupid, so watch your accusations
2 - some opinions are stupid
3 - This has nothing to do w/ standards or whose side I'm on, except that running around looking after
4 - grellas believes everyone should be free to express his or her core beliefs "without being accused of nefarious motives". Sorry, bs. Some people are looking out for number one, are in a position to exploit others, and should be called on it.
5 - I have a sincerely held belief you all owe me $10k. Each. See? Stupid.