I agree with Mr. Alex Karp, the CEO of Palantir, Is the Valley-Poly going too far?

Sunil Chathaveetil
4 min readAug 29, 2020

By Sunil Chathaveetil| Mintmesh Inc

It is not often that I veer from my chosen track, to write about things that are happening in other areas of the technology industry, but this piece of news that I read on CNN https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/26/tech/palantir-s1-alex-karp/index.html brought more than a little smile to my face. In this, Mr Alex Karp, the terrific CEO at Palantir talks in colorful detail about Silicon Valley and why his company is moving out of the valley to Denver, Colorado. Interestingly, Palantir is also co-founded by Mr Peter Thiel, the quintessential valley investor who appears to be loudly supporting this move. His support for this move speaks of the deep dissensions appearing within the valley community with powerful and important voices increasingly questioning, whether the valley has gone too far. Is the Valley-poly with its money and reach, drowning out the effort of other innovation hubs?

At the outset, however, one needs to tip one’s hat to the valley, as the fount of silicon engineering, that has quickly and significantly changed the lives of humans in many ways, good and bad. As with what happens to rapid and unbridled success, things have changed more than a tad bit and taken on a life of their own. The valley created its own unique ecosystem, of engineers, investors, talking heads, entrepreneurs and myriad other folks that are keenly vested in maintaining the Valley-poly. What has emerged is a tangible and intangible confluence of interests that has kept the Valley-poly going. It is most instructive when companies like Palantir, that have deep knowledge of how the valley works, speak up. From what I can gather, it appears that an undeniable worship of Mammon, has given rise to a unidimensional value system that has diluted the original spirit of enterprise and fair play.

May be it’s time to revisit the reign of the valley.

As a person running Mintmesh, a company born in the Midwest, my valley contact has been limited to technology architects, entrepreneurs and dozens of valley investors and it has not been enough to draw any conclusions. The interactions with investors have run the gauntlet from amusement to frustration, each a learning moment, and I intend to touch on these specifically in another blog. The interactions with engineers have been pretty benign and ordinary. Overall, I did see the streak of “wealth at all costs” approach that permeated most conversations. Maybe it works for some, but for us, it was more important to deliver value to our customers. I must admit, however, that given the deluge of misinformation and seduced by the allure of multiple success stories, we toyed with the idea of moving to the Silicon Valley. Better sense prevailed, as we concluded that our business success will be decided by our customers, not because of a place, and we did not move.

It’s been 4 years since we started, we are still here, all on our own steam, changing and growing and producing products to help people. So, for those entrepreneurs out there, worried about not having a valley address, know no fear. If you have a product that your customers value, you will be successful, no matter what. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. You may even be participating in democratizing the technology industry and if you are looking for a great destination, look no further than Michigan, where you have Detroit, the original harbinger of true-blue innovation, undergoing a renaissance. By the way, that was a plug for my home state.

Keeping Mr. Karp’s assertion aside, his observations on the valley, opens up many questions. Should we let the Mammon juggernaut destroy our sense of fair play and justice? Isn’t it time, to see how humans can live in harmony with machines and not be afraid of being displaced by machines? Shouldn’t our technological innovation focus on the softer aspect of enabling humans to live fitter and fuller lives? Has time come, for the Valley, to re-invent itself to remain a leader? Or, is it time to take a deeper look at Valley-poly and follow the path of Mr Thiel and Mr Karp out of the valley?

I welcome all your comments.

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