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Respect and Prosperity: Silicon Valley and Democracy

Entrepreneurs from the Silicon Valley are shaping our future. They are building bold new technologies. These technologies range from artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, nano-materials, synthetic biology, to augmented- and virtual reality. These technologies will allow us to make more progress within the next 100 years than ever before in mankind.

The Silicon Valley and Los Angeles area brought up high valued companies. Examples are Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, and SpaceX. In addition, there are thousands of other tech startups working on the next big thing. Startups always try to disrupt industries. On the other side of the United States, we see New York City. New York City is the heart of worldwide finance. Investment banks, private equity companies, rating agencies, financial holdings and management companies are defining the way we live. Lobbyism and corruption being common practice in New York City and Washington DC.

Constrained World View

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are of the opinion that by disrupting industries they are making life more efficient and eco-friendly. They falsely assume that by doing so they are doing everyone else a favor. Many founders take their worldview as a matter of course. They don’t accept a different point of view. They take it for granted that everyone else shares their own, one and only point of view. We are bold entrepreneurs who are disrupting industries and that this is a good thing – by default for everyone.

The election of Donald Trump as the president of the Untied States of America shakes up everything. The election had two outcomes: the election of Donald Trump and the no-vote for Hillary Clinton. These election results show us clearly that technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality are not challenges which are most important to a majority of people. The clear no-vote of Hillary Clinton also shows us that people are tired of the current power structures in New York City and Washington.

“For a long time, our elites have been in the habit of denying difficult realities. That’s how bubbles form.” – Peter Thiel

Integrating > Dividing

Here comes the problem. The regions Silicon Valley and New York City are ultra-liberal and ultra-progressive. This makes it hard for many people who are working in the startup or banking industry to emphasize with other parts of the society. Elites are simply ignoring the hard and difficult realities within their own country and worldwide. They don’t realize what is happening while they are disrupting several industries. Jobs are shifted to other countries of the world or they disappear completely. Financial security and educational opportunities are non-existent.

Here are some examples:

M.G. Siegler of GV (Google Ventures): “I hate to break out hyperbole. But we’re f—-ed. Not because of Trump necessarily. But the people who elected him …”

Anil Dash: “No matter what, we have to organize & stand up to Trump and fight for the marginalized. I am not afraid of that motherf—er.”

Mark Pincus, Co-founder of Zynga: “Is this what it felt like when people first realized hitler could actually take power?”

Shervin Pishevar, Investor and Executive at Hyperloop One: “If Trump wins I am announcing and funding a legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation.”

What we are observing today are very dangerous and very dividing actions. An ultra-liberal and highly privileged part of the society tries to enforce their political correctness upon other more conservative and underprivileged parts of the society. The middle class has currently no affordable access to education neither health care and is therefore actively pushed away from the East- and West-coast. A large portion of the U.S. society is craving for an affordable education system, a working and affordable health care system, and for safe jobs. These basic demands should be handled with respect and sympathy.

Before Silicon Valley entrepreneurs can move on working on bold innovations, technologies, and disruptions they need to stop thinking constrained. Those ultra-liberal and highly privileged parts of the society need to allow discussions with other parts of the society. Prejudices need to be eliminated – on both sides.

“We’re biased by the container we have created around ourselves. We’ve created this world that obviously shielded us from really being intimate with what’s going on elsewhere. This exposes reality. This is eye-opening data for everyone.” Sprinklr CEO Ragy Thomas

Stupidest Statement

Then there is the stupidest statement I have heard over the last couple of days: To separate California from the rest of the United States of America. Instead of dividing societies Silicon Valley investors and entrepreneurs must integrate other parts of the society. Elon Musk recently joined the club of advocates for a basic income. He realized that when the technological advancements from Silicon Valley will continue to grow exponentially a great part of the society will be left behind with nothing. Another great example is the Detroit Venture Fond. They are showing how you can rebuild a broke and idle city with targeted investments and entrepreneurship.

The Most Important Thing

People from the Silicon Valley and Manhattan need to show respect towards everyone who is not living in their shiny world of technology, finance, and progress. It seems that the tech and finance industry have only a few leaders who actually understand how democracy works. An important next step is to show respect, reduce prejudices, and to integrate and unite the United States by distributing education and wealth to everyone.

“Congratulations, President Trump. This is what makes America great—our democracy. Now it’s time for us to come together as one country.” Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

The Thing about Europe

The phenomenon is true for the United States of America. But Europe needs to pay close attention! The gap between the rich elites and the middle class is larger in the U.S. than in Europe but we can still observe a growing separateness. European entrepreneurs, politicians, and reporters need to start respecting all parts of the society. We need open discussions and initiatives to create a society that benefits everyone.

RESPECT.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

What is your opinion on this topic? Do you think some entrepreneurs and investors need to open their eyes and become more empathetic? Comment and I will join the discussion!

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