Strong Opinions @marksbirch

Random thoughts from a NYC entrepreneur and investor about start-ups, technology and the people that make it all happen. Also find time for good tunes and good food.
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I almost do not want to write this post.  In fact, it almost sickens me that I am wasting brain cycles even contemplating this topic.  However, I must perform my civic duty by publicly and loudly lambasting a plague that has descended upon the tech community.

Screw you Bravo TV and may your Silicon Valley show go to hell.

I thought this was merely a joke back in April, but apparently this thing is airing next month.  I won’t even link to the site lest I give even an ounce of credibility to the show and its producers.   You can search for it yourself to view the trailer.  Just be ready to gouge your eyeballs out and stick chopsticks into your ear drums.  It is really that bad but you have been warned.

Some folks are having fun with this by making up drinking games.  Funny har har.  Some are declaring their dismay on Twitter.  A few are arranging viewing parties because they have a warped sense of humor and they enjoy drinking games (because there apparently is not enough booze at tech gatherings).  And then there are those who are totally oblivious as they do nothing but work on their startup.  For those folks I say ignore the rest of this post and get back to more important things.

I have been noticing that with the recent rise in tech startups, there has also been a rise in vacuous nonsense.  That is to be expected in any “hot” industry, whether it was the “green” hysteria of the last decade or the Internet industry during the first dot com boom.  It starts out well enough with people that have the right mindset and good intentions.  The early pioneers find modest success, the mainstream media notices and runs wildly exaggerated stories, and then more people come on board.  This is the wonderful and virtuous cycle that helps build up an industry and provide it with talent.

Then somewhere down the road the whole thing gets badly tainted.  The instant rise in popularity brings less savory individuals looking for quick riches.  They want the money and the fame and the attention without really putting in any work themselves.  In our world, those would be the startup enthusiasts and wantrepreneurs and hanger-on’s.   As this is going on, people on the outside wonder how they can exploit this sudden interest through their own platforms.  They start slapping the term “STARTUP” onto anything and everything in order get themselves in on the action and glom onto the credibility of others.  This leads to more noise and more panels and more parties and more alcohol and more shitty media rags like Betabeat.

I do not personally know any of the people that are in this upcoming reality series.  They may honestly believe they are going into this with the best intentions.  However, a lot of what I am hearing in the back channels is not positive.  Some of the folks are legitimately talented and genuine technologists.  And then there are some that are nothing but attention whores.  It is all about them and their ambition and their popularity.  They are adults supposedly trying to build real businesses, but it reeks of a high school mentality.  I really have no idea how these folks expect to create a successful enterprise with the distractions of cameras and plots lines and make-up crews.  But therein lies the point, it is merely entertainment in exchange for some fleeting amount of fame.

Dear Hollywood and attention whores, if you want to do a reality show, there are plenty of options.  Go butcher pop songs or find a remote island or seek a potential mate or compete to become a model.  You can even do a reality show by being a psychotic bride, a drunken meathead, or a conniving housewife.  It seems like the entertainment industry has well plumbed the depths of human depravity for all of America to see.  If they can do a series about a house of ill repute, then there truly is no shame left.  But for the love of God, please stay the hell away from the technology industry.  And that goes for you too Randi Zuckerberg.

I can’t help but think we are at the end of a Patterson cycle.  When our current cycle comes to its conclusion, all these embarrassing and useless distractions will end soon as the hype runs its course and the frauds leave to suck the life out of some other industry.  There will be collateral damage, but at least it will clear the decks of everything rotten.

For those that are working hard to build real businesses, create awesome technologies, upending the status quo through innovative ideas, and changing the world, here’s to you because you are doing something that matters.  You are pursuing your passion instead of feeding your ego.  Regardless of whom you are or where in the pecking order you sit, you will always be the real heroes in our startup world.

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