Silicon Valley, Jack Dorsey, Entrepreneurism, and Eating a Printed Dinner
The New Billionaire: Silicon Valley, Jack Dorsey, and the Changing Nature of Entrepreneurism
As Twitter prepares to go public, there’s a lot of emphasis on Silicon Valley (and Jack Dorsey) in the media. In last week’s New Yorker, Nathaniel Heller, who grew up in San Francisco, wrote about the shifting dynamics of entrepreneurism. With everything moving online and new technology to simplify traditional transactions, you no longer need astounding amounts of capital to start a company, and the role of the venture capitalist firm is eroding. What we’re seeing instead are individual investors who funnel smaller amounts of cash into various projects, expecting the majority of them to fail, and banking on the few that will succeed to make their investments worthwhile. Simultaneously, entrepreneurs work in multiple startups, banking on the same thing as the investors behind them; in fact, many entrepreneurs use the money they earn to invest in other companies. Instead of operating within the traditional hierarchy, there’s now a network—the lines have blurred. But they’ve blurred in more than one sense. The San Francisco culture has created entrepreneurs and investors who are “just like us.” They’re big in the art scene, take public transportation, wear skinny jeans, eat organic, party . . . you can’t pick them out on the street. Except, some of them have millions, even billions of dollars and appear to be completely out of touch with the rest of the country (case in point).
In light of all this, it’s been interesting to read this week’s burst of coverage on Twitter’s co-founder (and poster boy) Jack Dorsey. I’ll start with the most entertaining—a Gawker expose featuring Dorsey’s deleted website (found via archives) from the time when he was a tormented and “philosophical” twenty something with green hair and a nose ring. Then move on to Nick Bilton’s scandalous New York Times Magazine article/book excerpt, which portrays Dorsey as a scheming manipulator who did very little for Twitter but worked the system in such a way that he could take all the credit for it. The most interesting for me was D.T. Max’s more nuanced portrayal of Dorsey and his work in The New Yorker (the most frightening part of it being the discovery of Dorsey’s ambitions to run for mayor of New York City one day . . . which reminds me that you should read this piece about Silicon Valley and politics from last May). Also be sure to check out @jack (Dorsey’s Twitter account, laden with selfies and philosophical musings), and the video of his talk at Columbia University last month is also worth a look.
—Masha Udensiva-Brenner, Editor
As a follow-up to my last post on eating dinner in the dark, I’d like to explore the relatively uncharted culinary experience of eating dinner from a 3-D printer. Journalist A. J. Jacobs details his “ultimate high-tech romantic dinner date” with his wife in an article for the New York Times: “Dinner is Printed.” For this occasion, Jacobs printed the necessary culinary and ambient items—forks, knives, placemats, candlesticks—and the food. As Jacobs described how 3-D printing works, I became increasingly worried that he was going to feed his wife plastic. But, thankfully, he hires some Ph.D.s that use actual food mashed into a paste for ink. While Jacobs described their feast of pizza (in the shape and topography of Italy), a “gummy” eggplant dish, corn pasta and panna cotta (both in the 3-D shapes of their initials), I did have to wonder if one futuristic day, say one hundred years from now, printed food would be like fast food—that is, everywhere. And, as a corollary, having a hand-cooked meal would seem outlandish.
—Nicola Fucigna, Fiction Editor