Cavafy, in his poem Itaca reminds us that in our journey, the important thing is not always arriving, but what we learn on it. What we discover about ourselves and others, the places we visit, and the dragons we face.
I feel that Silicon Valley started with a version of this motto, where the important thing was learning ways to drive society into the future and build the products for it. It was a land of believers and innovators learning by doing.
In part, that line of thinking was what drove me to tech entrepreneurship. I was looking to shape the world into something better because tech provided new possibilities of solving more significant problems in better ways. But as I lived through that journey, I started feeling that something else was the real driver of the Silicon Valley myth.
I now believe that Silicon Valley represents a bunch of different things. But mainly, it has become the myth of where the opportunities are, the route to making lots of money, and how entrepreneurs should run their businesses. The famous quote "software is eating the world" by Marc Andreessen made it clear that the way to go is with the Silicon Valley mindset. It looks that now most entrepreneurs are building tech products or founding tech companies because they don't want to be left behind the fast-pacing changes we're living in today. So, what's driving most of today's tech scene is achieving a high financial return while there's still a chance.
So, as I see it, we went from entrepreneurs chasing anomalies and finding solutions to change the world; to building products and companies that grow fast and exponentially—trying to hack their ways to get more attention from customers or persuade them in some form to sell more and keep growing.
So, if this shift happened, are these the type of companies that we want to build? What kind of future are we creating?
One of the underlying problems of this new Silicon Valley attitude is that it generates a way of living that is not beneficial for the society in the long term. It suggests that we should speed up things to extreme levels, which puts pressure on areas where there wasn't any need for it. It doesn't let entrepreneurs reflect on their actions or even have time for themselves and their families. And this affects the founders but also the employees, customers, and providers.
Another critical issue is that we are talking about businesses. In the end, entrepreneurs don't just put a product on the market. They build a company with a culture that embeds a mindset in society. So, a company's culture, ethics, and general concerns are very influential, especially if a company has global success—even more today where businesses and brands are getting even more significant than religions.
I believe that many initiatives that got us to where we are today made sense at that specific moment in history. I also don't think that the consequences of those initiatives were deliberately imagined, and we accidentally generated most of these problems. When making bold decisions to change the world, some risks must be taken. However, not because something can be done means it should be done. And not because we did it in the past means that we must keep doing it moving forward.
With all the technological change and the rapid acceleration of things, we now have to be more careful than ever about what future we end up building. Because the threat is not Instagram wins over TikTok or who is the number one ride-sharing service. The real danger is if we destroy ourselves as a society or evolve to the best versions of ourselves. That is why we need to pay more attention to the examples we set as entrepreneurs and business owners. Because the path we follow and the culture we develop is through the actions of the individuals.
I want to stick with the Silicon Valley promise of continuous innovation and evolution. But to keep up with this promise, it is time to reflect on what we are doing today and its impact on future generations. And that means how we are building the companies of the future.
Because, as a society, we have learned a lot of things about ourselves and others during this journey. And lots of dragons have risen to show us that this might not be the best version of ourselves.