The only hope for Silicon Valley
Engineers are the best hope for Silicon Valley, said Nick Bilton. If you compare the hierarchies inside Silicon Valley companies to Hollywood film studios, engineers are the stars. Now those stars “are beginning to wonder whether sacrificing principles for a paycheck is really worth the risk.” Take Facebook. Once it was a magnet for elite talent; now scandals over fake news and hate speech have rendered working there “stigmatic for top engineering talent.” That’s a sign of the larger trend in tech. In better days, Valley employees gave little thought to their company’s ethos. Most didn’t have to, as the assumption was clear: Their company was going to “change the world.” But since 2016, things have shifted. Some tech employees are leaving perks behind to join “smaller, more thoughtful start-ups,” and others are abandoning the industry entirely, believing “something is fundamentally wrong with the companies that rule the world.” Who can blame them? Twitter employees are “embarrassed by the company’s decision to not ban Alex Jones from the social network.” From ad tracking to driverless cars, Silicon Valley companies have forged ahead, willfully ignoring danger signs. We keep telling the Valley’s chiefs that something needs to change. The engineers might be the only people who have the power to make them listen.