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Although I think it’s a bit early to pronounce that our generation’s hopelessness has once again descended, I still think this is a poignant argument and is a good setup for some other stuff I’m writing.

Anyway, The Toronto Globe & Mail bought it for an Op/Ed piece. Should be in print sometime this week.

BTW, anybody who knows me really well knows this is somewhat fictional, since I don’t even drink Coffee. 🙂


> Down & Out in Silicon Valley
> – By Ian Andrew Bell
> It used to be so easy to get a table at Buck’s Restaurant in Woodside,
> California — if you went in right after the Lunchtime Rush. I would hold
> court there all afternoon some days, holding meetings and banging away at
> the keys of my Powerbook.
> Buck’s is otherwise known as The Place Where Yahoo! Got Funded — a Silicon
> Valley temple where its Venture Capitalist patrons pay homage by donating
> various exotic sports memorabilia as décor. In days past, if you sat there
> long enough (and I did) you could eavesdrop on conversations that could make
> you millions, if heard on the right day.
> Now that the bubble economy days are numbered, the detritus of the dot com
> generation flood the place from open ’til close. Sometimes they’re just
> making a pit stop between job interviews. Others are meeting with their
> fellow unemployed friends, with headhunters and recruiters, or with
> potential investors. What they have in common these days is that they are
> all desperately clamoring to a lifestyle that is quickly slipping away.
> The signposts of the bubble economy are gone now from Silicon Valley. The
> $100,000.00 per month billboard nestled beside the 101 which once spelled
> out ³gardens.com² with live plants has been replaced by an ad for some
> obscure, boring technology infrastructure company.
> As you roam the hallways and haunt the bars of Silicon Valley it is clear
> that the glory days are over. Of my immediate circle of 20 or so friends,
> all employed in one way or another by Silicon Valley companies, 14 have been
> “rightsized” or are looking to leave their jobs for greener (or even just
> green) pastures.
> We are the youth generation that powered the dot com economy and throughout
> our lives we have sustained constantly shifting prospects for our futures.
> As such, we have learned to adapt our goals and expectations with each wild
> swing of the pendulum.
> Most of us grew up knowing the comfort and security of a stable middle-class
> upbringing. As teenagers, we naturally assumed that what our parents had
> would come to us with just the same amount of dedication and effort.
> By the time we went through University, though, we were being told that we,
> as Generation Xers, would never realize the prosperity and wealth of our
> parents. For a very long time we believed this, adjusting our goals and
> expectations to conform to a diminished future.
> Then in 1995, a little-known company called Netscape made its dazzling
> Initial Public Offering. Shortly thereafter, Silicon Valley invited our
> best and brightest (and eventually just about anyone with a pulse) to join
> in on the party. We came, and suddenly we were besting salary levels that
> our parents took their entire careers to attain. Visions of summer houses,
> scuba diving vacations in Belize, and high-end SUV¹s began to swirl in our
> lofty imaginations.
> But then, as all parties do, it ended. And now the vast majority of us,
> after years of brutal air travel, horrendously long hours, personal
> sacrifice, and emotional rollercoaster rides, are discovering that the
> carrot that drew us along is no longer swinging gleefully in front of our
> noses.
> Now, at Buck¹s and in hundreds of Silicon Valley dives just like it, we
> gather to remember. We sit, lamenting our worthless stock options, and
> worrying about our uncertain futures. For most of us, it is readily
> apparent just what an illusion the dream of retirement at age 34 was.
> Perhaps no group in history has experienced such a dramatic societal and
> economic rope-a-dope. The lasting effect of this cross-generational ponzi
> scheme may well be felt in the coming months as my peers melt away from the
> jackpot mentality to things which they find more immediately fulfilling.
> In the coming months we will likely hear stories about everything from
> lowering rents in San Francisco to an oversupply of BMWs. We will see
> reports of disappointed dot communists making the exodus back home from
> Silicon Valley, and giving up the Range Rover in favour of the good old
> Volkswagen.
> For now, as I wait for another of my friends to arrive at Buck¹s with his
> tale of woe, I order my third latte and hope for the best.