Who doesn’t know Silicon Valley? This area in the United States is home to multiple million-dollar tech companies like Apple, Tesla, Google, and even Amazon. All large companies have a leader, but no one values their CEO like big tech companies. However, over the years their horrible behaviour and lack of empathy have been exposed. How did these heroes transform into villains?
Silicon Valley portrays itself as a woke and innovative place, where the future is being built. But take a closer look and you’ll see that Silicon Valley is evidence of a very toxic work culture. One of the biggest culprits was Steve Jobs. Many tech CEOs see Steve Jobs as an example and want to follow in his footsteps. He is often praised for his ambitions, accomplishments, and for being a visionary creative genius, but his leadership style? Not so visionary or creative. He arguably set the tone and promoted hypocrisy and a poor communication style, which eventually resulted in a very toxic work environment. Jobs ensured that there was a culture with a lot of surveillance, secrecy, and distrust. He was greedy, arrogant, and self-obsessed. These are traits we see nowadays in a lot of big tech CEOs. Like other tech companies, Steve Jobs made sure his employees were paid the lowest wages and if you were having a bad day, you could be fired on the spot. Always performing your best was important to Jobs and was seen as the norm. This explains the mentality that a lot of CEOs have in Silicon Valley.
This toxic mentality is even better portrayed by the favourite catchphrase of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “Move fast and break things” This saying, which has been widely adopted in Silicon Valley, emphasized this toxic culture as it suggests that if you’re not breaking things, you’re not moving fast enough and this is bad for business. The things that are breaking in the process are not things but Facebook employees and users.
It is evident that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about privacy or keeping personal data safe if you look at the Cambridge Analytica fiasco or the Russian hacking of the 2016 election. Instead, Facebook has been busy monopolizing the digital advertising market, guaranteeing media companies got hooked on their traffic pipeline, which would later destroy their careers when they pulled the plug. In the Vanity Fair article published by Nick Bolton, Mark Zuckerberg was described as someone with little emotion and even robotic at times. Bolton interviewed multiple insiders who referred to Zuckerberg as the destroyer of innovation, with one venture capitalist stating: “Any time there’s an inkling of innovation here, any time a new idea comes up, Zuckerberg either buys it and shuts it down or copies it and shuts it down anyway.” This highlights Zuckerberg’s hypocrisy, revealing him to be threatened by external innovation while demonstrating that people are getting fed up with the CEO and slowly seeing his true colours.
This isn’t quite the behaviour one would expect of philanthropist Gates
While Mark Zuckerberg is arguably one of the worst tech CEOs in Silicon Valley, he of course has some competition. Bill Gates and Elon Musk have been shown over the years to also not be sweethearts. Although Bill Gates tried to portray himself as a philanthropist, recent developments came to light that showed what kind of man Bill Gates really is. He made every employee sign a non-disclosure agreement and evidently, has had multiple affairs with employees while being married. This isn’t quite the behaviour one would expect of philanthropist Gates and this shows that he also promotes secrecy in the work environment.
Just like our other controversial tech CEOs, Elon Musk’s dark side has been revealed
Just like our other controversial tech CEOs, Elon Musk’s dark side has been revealed. Musk knows how to be interactive with his followers which gained him a lot of positive attention. However, this began to turn negative when people noticed his innocent tweets were not so innocent. Elon Musk uses his platform to tweet subtle hints about cryptocurrencies and because of his following and power this allows him to manipulate the market, making him even richer. This is especially manipulative and unethical as a lot of his followers are young people who look up to him and could lose their money because of his unsolicited tweets.
The innovation bubble that surrounded tech companies and their CEOs is now bursting. Users are seeing their true colours amid the scandals and are losing trust in them. The facade of the tech hero serving a greater purpose is slowly crumbling, exposing the dangers of their immense power.
Cover: Hunters Race
Edited by: Rita Alves