But instead of taking action to excise it, they’re looking for a “third-way” that only guarantees failure.
In Silicon Valley, 17 years later, another kind of revolution is taking shape. A handful of founders and CEOs—Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, Jason Fried of Basecamp, Shopify’s Tobias Lütke, Medium’s Ev Williams—have said the unsayable. In the face of shop-floor social-justice activism, they’ve decided, business owners should resolve to stick to business.
No hashtag coders. No message-board threads about anti-racism or neo-pronouns. No open letters meant to get someone fired for a decade-old tweet. No politics. As Armstrong put it in his famous (or infamous) September 27th, 2020 blog post, business should be “mission focused.” A software developer explained that the conciliatory approach has become too costly: “The Slack shit, the company-wide emails, it definitely spills out into real life, and it’s a huge productivity drag.”
In October, a pseudonymous group inspired by Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong came together under the banner “Mission Protocol,” with the aim of getting other companies to start “putting aside activities and conversations” outside the scope of their professional missions. (“Mission focus doesn’t mean being apolitical,” they note. “It means being political about the mission. This mission is what you came together to accomplish, and this mission is what you’re fighting for in your work on the project.”) Paul Graham, a famed venture capitalist and “hacker philosopher,” tweeted his support to 1.3 million followers. Melia Russell, who covers the startup beat for Business Insider, noted that startups were jumping into the Mission Protocol threads “with a hell yes.”
Some founders, venture capitalists, and angel investors are now refusing to speak with legacy-media journalists who infuse their reporting with a social-justice slant. “What’s the point [of talking to reporters]?” a developer said. “They hate us, and we think they know nothing about the way the world works outside their woke, east-coast bubble.” Instead, mission-focused players are embracing alternatives such as Clubhouse and Substack. A software developer, Slava Akhmechet, is building a social-media platform (now in its beta phase) that grants influencers anonymity, with an eye toward encouraging the kind of candid conversation that is mostly verboten on, say, Twitter or Instagram. And then there’s the promise of blockchain—still in its infancy—and “decentralized media,” as Balaji Srinivasan, Coinbase’s former chief technology officer, calls it.
This Silicon Valley movement overlaps with a growing cadre of politically diverse writers and podcasters—such as Glenn Greenwald, James Poulos, Alex Kaschuta, and Aimee Terese—collectively creating an opening for a more incisive, wider-ranging conversation about technology, politics, and America itself. Default Friend, an After the Orgy podcast co-host and pseudonymous Substacker whose newsletter focuses on the Bay Area, says “this new group is like, ‘Okay, the wokeness thing definitely isn’t right. There must be some third way.’ They’re agreed on what they oppose.”
Between President Trump’s failure to successfully defeat the Deep State and Silicon Valley’s unwillingness to cut out the corporate cancer, it should be obvious to the intelligent observer that half-measures are not enough. You can’t negotiate with SJWs. You can’t lecture them. You can’t wag your finger and issue dire warnings.
If you’re not going to act, and act decisively, you’re simply reducing the rate at which you lose.