Unicorns and Blackswans: The Culture of Silicon Valley

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By Kitty, Trey, Francesca, Josie, Sanami

Silicon Valley is known for both unicorns and blackswans. What political and social ideas shape the culture of Silicon Valley today?

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Looking at poltical ideas, technologists could push lawmakers more to the left, especially democrats and they may strive to push Democrats away from regulation on business — including the growing calls for greater rules around the tech industry. On most culture-war issues, they are unrepentantly liberal. They oppose restrictions on abortion, favor gay rights, support gun control and oppose the death penalty.

However, some tech entrepreneurs strongly deviate from Democratic orthodoxy and are closer to most Republicans; they are deeply suspicious of the government’s efforts to regulate business, especially when it comes to labor. They said that it was too difficult for companies to fire people, and that the government should make it easier to do so. They also hope to see the influence of both private and public-sector unions decline.

In 2012, 83% of tech firms contributions went to the Obama election campaign. Only 3% of startup founders identify as Republican. Tech communities in Silicon Valley abstain from traditional political tribalism such as labor unions, sovereignty, militarism or small government advocates.
Silicon Valley represents a completely new political cateogry where they see the government as an investor.

Astro Teller at the DFJ LP Mtg: “At Google X we focus on customer value creation, and the revenue opportunities follow.”
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The culture of Silicon Valley is a very a tight knit community and has ingroups and outgroups based on your social capital and social status. It can be based on merit and what companies and people you are affiliated with or your perceived potential (in ideas and social connections). Once you are able to break the barrier and are accepted into the group, you can grow very rapidly in the industry. There is an inherent social contract that determines how people behave. A Golden Rule that is unspoken in the industry that you should “treat others as if they might be the next great founder”.


Reference List:

Danco, A. (2020, January 23). Social capital in Silicon Valley. [Blog post]. Dancoland. https://alexdanco.com/2020/01/23/social-capital-in-silicon-valley/

Ferenstein, G. (2015, November 6). The unusual politics of Silicon Valley, explained. Vox. https://www.vox.com/2015/9/29/9411117/silicon-valley-politics-charts

Manjoo, F. (2017, September 16). Silicon Valley’s politics: Liberal, with one big exception. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/technology/silicon-valley-politics.html