How do we change ownership structures to prevent Snapchat, Instagram, and Whatsapp from distributing billion-dollar windfalls among only a couple dozen people? How can we enable great people, regardless of zip code, to solve messy societal problems?
Silicon Valley’s Unchecked Arrogance
Ross Baird
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Ross, I tweeted about this being a very interesting read & that at the end it asks the wrong questions.

Thank you for your response on Twitter & letting me state (what I feel are) the right questions.

I don’t think that ownership structures need changing so that “billion-dollar windfalls are prevented from being distributed among only a couple of dozen people”.

I don’t see what is wrong in billion-dollar windfalls being distributed among only a couple of dozen people, as you put it. If they are the ones who mainly worked on it & helped make the idea/solution a success, they surely deserve the fruits of their labor?

The second question isn’t completely wrong. Yes, we need people to solve messy problems. But you qualify it with “great people”. Excuse me, does that rule out the very section that you mention might need a minimum income?

Enough ranting. The following are the questions I’d pose —

  1. You mention this, which I agree with.
Silicon Valley has become a “monocrop” culture where entrepreneurs are well-educated, have frictionless access to capital, and have their basic needs taken care of. The majority of resources today are going to entrepreneurs whose lived experience is in well-off, well-connected cities.”

The challenge/question now is — can we take the (undoubted) ability of folks in Silicon Valley & use it to solve messy problems outside of the bubble that is the Valley? Use software to solve messy problems, not the frivolous ones?

2. The second question should concern distribution of resources & opportunity (this does not have to include money). Very real, very serious problems abound worldwide. How do the resources reach the people who every single day tackle these problems? E.g. On countries like India, where agriculture is still a large part of the economy & employs a large population, how do we get resources/help to the people solving real problems like lack of water, soil fertility etc on a daily basis.

How do people, who have little more than their basic needs fulfilled, get access to similar opportunities (education, jobs, healthcare etc) as compared to the ones better off?

The fundamental distinction I’d like to make between the point of view you express & the one I’m trying to make, is regarding money. I wish to stress that the focus should be around solving problems of resources & opportunity. This need not involve redistribution of wealth from a handful to a wider section by any sort of changes in ownership structures.

In fact, it seems to me that providing resources in the form of tools, information, and even time (personal contribution) are likely to be far more effective than any system/structure designed to redistribute wealth.

Nikhil

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