An Alternative History of Silicon Valley Disruption

"They promised the open web, we got walled gardens. They promised individual liberty, then broke democracy—and now they’ve appointed themselves the right men to fix it.

But did the digital revolution have to end in an oligopoly?" - Nitasha Tiku

This article summarises 3 recent books which blame United States tech companies for subverting the technological revolution to intentionally create oligarchy and inequality, where a handful of people are the winners and the rest of us are the losers.


It all started with the advent of the Internet - becoming truly accessible by all. Most of the early developers were innocently looking for ways to use the new tool to advance progress and democracy.

Later, some became accidental billionaires overnight. It spurred the effort of the entire finance industry to identify those projects that would make sure the public would get hooked, naively accept all sorts of abuse such as privacy violation, and contribute to building fortunes for the owners.

The same goes with dictatorships when they break down. Initially, lots of hope about a rosier future. But very soon, crafty entrepreneurs seizing the fresh new opportunities to establish what is in effect, an oligarchy.


Today on Hacker News another interesting story was trending about SV culture and the craze, the VC funding, and… a different path:

Here is the HN discussion:

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That’s a great story. First the absolute maddening environment of working on a startup. Then the company shrinks from a sizable team, to one person. And their growth rate stays the same!

The founder is a millonaire, and might not be writing if he was’t a big financial success by skewed US standards. I would say he is a huge financial success. We hear his story, more often we hear stories of billionaires, but rarely do we hear the stories of the 99% of startup founders who fail.

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