HBO’s Silicon Valley Almost Makes Us Happy That We’re Older


Photo by HBO

Several times a month, I get calls from tech nerds just like the ones in HBO’s new comedy called Silicon Valley, looking for jobs. I think some higher power was sending certain kids to me so I can set them straight before they enter the brutal world of the technology workforce. I tell them all one thing, “If you are not prepared for a constant sea of changes, then this is not the niche for you.”

I have been working 48 years this September, and I can honestly say that I have never seen such a fast-paced and fiercely competitive landscape as the one in tech today. If you are not confident (and comfortable) within your own skin, be ready to be eaten alive. Only people who truly like themselves, enjoy challenges, and read and think all the time, can make it. The rest go running home to mommy and daddy.

Most of us over 50 have no idea what goes on today at tech startups or at the new types of work environments like those in Facebook and Google. Everyday there are new adventures, with new demands that are tremendously difficult to achieve. We liked knowing what was in-store for us in black-and-white. We didn’t like surprises. Tech workers today have to be ready to reinvent themselves over and over. Everyone has to think creativity all the time. No slackers allowed.

The acting in HBO’s Silicon Valley was way too dramatic and the script was juvenile. However, the series could still be a major success because it touched on points that the younger workforce can relate to. For example, a young inventor of “compression algorithms” has to choose between one company who wants to buy his technology outright for $4 million and another one who wants to give him $200,000 for a small percentage but will help him grow what he already started.

The entire scene was very real because it showed how people interact with each other today and the kind of fantasy work environments that are created to entice the younger generation to work around the clock.

I guess the point of this blog post is to make you aware that your children and grandchildren live in a work environment that none of us ever experienced or could tolerate. This is all they know, even though it is totally foreign to us.

Danielle Steel’s Ex-Husband is Creating a Strange Buzz in Silicon Valley

For better or worse, Tom Perkins has a lot of tongues wagging about him in the last few weeks. After being credited for making Silicon Valley one of the most innovative places on earth, Perkins, at 82, is going out of his way to underscore a growing problem in the area.

In a published letter that he wrote to the Wall Street Journal this past January, Perkins compared the growing unrest toward the American one percent in Silicon Valley to Nazi Germany’s anti-semitism. Ever since he made those questionable remarks plus others, he has been the talk of the town in the mainstream press.

The video above is a recent interview where Perkins is being asked to justify his comments. I was told that Danielle Steel, his wife from 1998 to 2002, was in the audience. They remained good friends after the divorce but no one knows for sure what she is thinking now.

Perkins was a founding partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB) , a venture capital firm located on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park in Silicon Valley. It is considered one of the “largest and most established” venture capital firms in the world. KPCB were the early financial backers for AOL,, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Google, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, Verisign, WebMD and Zynga.

Perkins hasn’t officially been with the VC company for a number of years. Reports in the press indicate that he is bringing Kleiner Perkins unwanted publicity and they are distancing themselves from him.

I wrote about this today because I believe this topic is going to take a lot of twists and turns in the months ahead. I want to hear your comments.

A Step Back in Time



Tom Twomey, an attorney with Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, a well known East End law firm, and his 1926 Flint Motor Car in front of the American Hotel. Both photos by Eliot Hess.

I love days like yesterday because it took me back to the time when we all weren’t so connected. Oh yes, we were connected, but in a much different way. We actually went to the local candy store to hang out, spent hours talking on the phone to our friends, and wrote letters to our loved ones.

A trip to Sag Harbor, smack in the middle of the Hamptons, is not exactly yesteryear, but it is a small village that frowns on using wireless communications equipment during restaurant meals and doesn’t put TV sets in their hotel rooms.

Dawn, the manager at the front desk at The American Hotel (a favorite of Keith Hernandez and Billy Joel), told me, “We really encourage guests to wind down.” She admitted that they are wired for the Internet but keep it on the quiet side.

Not everyone realizes this, but more public places than not lack cell and Internet coverage. It has always been a problem in the Hamptons. The town folks don’t want any part of it because they like their peaceful existence. They are not interested in hearing some advertising manager screaming slogans on his cell in the vegetable section at King Kullen. They also refuse to expand the width of Montauk Highway, the main road that goes from west to east. It is their way of saying “Go back home you city slickers.”

Most of the weekend homes have their own wifi connections. The same thing is true in Silicon Valley. Clients and friends have complained for years that the corridor south of San Francisco, home to Internet billionaires, has spotty connections. The main thoroughfare, Route 101, where millions of folks travel hours to and from work, has no coverage.

The Hamptons and Silicon Valley are like time machines. One minute you have the world at your fingertips, the next you wish phone booths still existed.