I am presently in the midst of a three week excursion in Detroit. A city of good people, chronic poverty, violence, rampant political corruption, wretched schools, comforting food, and wonderful music. Silicon Valley is borderline inconsequential here.
Facebook matters, of course. Android matters, even if the folks here don’t consciously acknowledge it. Google is relevant, somewhat. Otherwise, as far as Detroit’s concerned, what happens in Silicon Valley apparently stays in Silicon Valley — or worse, bypasses the people of this city without so much as a fleeting acknowledgment of its existence.
I will not accept this.
Detroit is swelling with ruin porn, feral dogs, empty lots and hope. There are children in the streets, playing, and pensioners on the porch, waiting. I feel obligated to prod the creators of technology and disruption to understand the needs of Detroiters — and the many others just like them. It’s a core reason why I write.
Only, since I’m back here, I’d say it’s fair this time to instead prod my fellow Detroiters to better understand what Silicon Valley does and why their work matters.
Despite my efforts, I failed.
Tell people working two jobs, both that pay no better than $14.50 an hour, about the smartphone wars, the cloud, funding rounds, firing rounds, San Francisco rents and companies that are so flush with cash they even pay for their employee’s food — in addition to the six-figure salaries — and you are met with blank stares.
That is, until I explained Silicon Valley in terms of Breaking Bad. That got their attention.
Walter White Is Larry Page
Who is the danger? Certainly not the “do no evil” crowd, the quiet nerds who simply want a better way to organize the world’s information.
Look closer. Look inside the labs. There is far more taking place than you ever dared imagine. And Page is far smarter than you ever suspected — though you always knew he was smart.
Larry Page — representing Google — is the danger. Google bots, servers, drones, balloons, Glass, all watching us, selling us. Despite their intent, I suspect Page and his company will ultimately be consumed by their own insatiable desires, a blindness to know when enough is too much.
Jesse Pinkman Is Mark Zuckerberg
How many times is this guy not going to die?
Gustavo Fring Is Tim Cook
One by one, they fall before Cook.
Anybody seen Scott Forstall lately?
Cook, like Gus, is dapper, soft-spoken, rather dull, and terribly calculating. He possesses a mean streak and an indomitable spirit.
His own hubris, or perhaps his inability to think different — no vision — are what will take him out.
Huell Babineaux Is Java
Big, dumb, but gets the job done. Better not overly rely on it, of course.
Saul Goodman Is Tech Blogger
Equal parts vicious and obsequious. Utterly useless — except for that one thing, and even then only when absolutely necessary. It’s funny how he always pretends its about everything but what it’s really all about: cheap, dirty money. No doubt blogger’s parents still believe he can do far better with his life.
Hank Schrader Is Marc Andreessen
Confident, smart, no one knows the score better than Andreessen. No one better understands the craziness swirling about him.
He has a glaring blind spot. It’s this: you never really see disruption coming.
Marie Schrader Is Government Regulations
Can we make her just go away already? Why is she here? What’s her purpose? Everyone is moving at breakneck speed but her. And stop the whining!
The Fly is Word
Damn but this thing is still here!
I WILL KILL YOU!
Thing is, once you do kill it, should you kill it, you’ll wonder why you ever let it enrage you so.
Holly Is The Start-Up
An inauspicious birth. Seemingly helpless. Periodically goes missing. Nobody knows what her future holds, but for inexplicable reasons she is flush with cash.
Lydia Is Marissa Mayer
Brilliant or foolish? Earned her success or mostly just lucky? Under-estimated because she is a woman — or over-estimated because of it? I still do not know, though I suspect we will all have our answer, very soon.
Skyler White Is iTunes
How did we ever love you? How often will you betray us — despite our long history together? Why can’t you seem to change even as everything and everyone else changes?
Just go away. I mean it this time.
Mike Is Larry Ellison
Past his prime, and probably, you shouldn’t trust him.
That said, I would not piss him off.
Hector Is Skype
That damn bell. That damn infernal bell. Just make it stop.
After everything, after all these years, it’s come to this. Skype’s value, like Hector’s, rests solely with how it might kill off someone or something that’s newer, better, and must not be allowed to survive.
Pink Teddy Bear Is Easy Money
The money comes easy here in Silicon Valley — until somebody’s bubble bursts and an angry mob shows up at your front door, blaming you for everything that’s gone wrong.
Gale Boetticher Is Jack Dorsey
Libertarian-nerd-vegan-super-smart. Nice guy. Loves good coffee. But, really, this is a foul, bloody business and we all know how this must end.