The Story of Too Many Startups

Rich and I walked up to the office, looked out at the beautiful view. There were only a few employees so far, it was a new company still finding itself.

We sat down with the CEO and the conversation turned to human topics. Illnesses, heartbreak, friends, needing space and keeping our heads on during stressful times. We'd all worked at terrible corporations. We all knew how it felt to be used, and hurt, and taken advantage of.

The conversation turned to people we both knew, and people who were ex-employees of these large corporations. He talked about how they were all helping each other out and it felt less human all of a sudden, less vulnerable-- it felt like a rich boy's club. He didn't mean it that way. He was trying to tell me he helps out his friends.

We walked around and tried out some demos and met employees more in depth.

"If you know of anyone who'd like to work here, let me know. We want the best. Met this guy at a hackathon."

And I look around, and it was all upper-middle class or upper class white men who had the time and energy to go to hackathons in good neighborhoods, who had the connections to even know they existed, who looked like someone they might pick as a hackathon partner because they look like the typical nerd, who had the connections to maybe know people they knew.

"I'm going to make sure this company goes big," he said.

I was starting to feel wary and less like I was being treated like a human.

"I love companies in which all employees are treated fairly, in which rational ideas always win."

"We're going to be big, we're going to work with the best and have lots of employees and take over."

"Those other companies only failed because a few people let fame get to their heads and played political games and started to not actually do work."

And you're going to do this ignoring most of your community? Not giving back at all, and just cherry-picking upper class guys from your network to join you?

Does that not sound like the horrible politics you're trying to get away from?

How can you make a great company when you're doing exactly what you used to hate?

You're not making a better company, you're getting yourself power and money and lying to yourself about being ethical.

It's like that CEO who had several men who had raped female employees kept on staff because they were good coders. I met the guy. I knew him.

He had a thousand justifications for why he was doing the right thing or why he had to do it or why this was the way things were or why it wasn't really his fault and he would point to how he was doing great things.

A good friend of mine told me bad people never become bad people overnight.

He said corruption and abuse evolve slowly.

With justifications like the above.

They feel small, then they grow, then you move away from people who disagree, then you become a person you hate and still tell yourself you're not that person.

It's important to me be and stay a good person.

Conversation with Rich, 1/13/17

Forest Walk