Note, on privilege
Andrew: Is inappropriate to ask if family relationships — your dad was an investor in the company, am I right?
Dan: My dad’s fund was an investor in the company.
Andrew: Is it inappropriate to ask if the relationship there helped you get the job?
Dan: No, you can ask anything you want.
Andrew: Was it? Did it help?
Dan: Yeah, it helped. It helped me get an interview. It didn’t help me get the job.
I was listening to this podcast on the walk home yesterday. I wasn’t even subscribed to mixergy — they advertise in overcast, the podcast app I use, and I had fat-fingered the link. I listened for a while about Dan’s product, Rocketrip. Andrew, the host, started on Dan’s connections: his father is a managing partner at Rho capital. I said, out loud, ‘whoah’.
Privilege in tech has been around for a long time. Gates, Zuckerberg, and many other ‘tech titans’ started from near the top. But it’s refreshing to hear specific people talking about their privilege, and how it affected their path.
I got my start in the industry from a connection. My sister went to college with one of the first engineers at my first job. That connection got me a phone interview, which became an internship, and eventually a job.
Years earlier, I had the advantage of great parents, decent schools, and a computer. My high school graduating class already includes a TIME ‘Hero of the Year’ and multimillionaire tech CEO.
Talking privilege means talking about how much credit you deserve for your life. There are plenty of people with even more #blessed backgrounds who have made less of it. There are also lots of people who have worked twice as hard to just stay sane in the industry, because of its omnipresent misogyny and prejudice. The answer is somewhere in the middle, I think.
The interview made me think, especially, about how privilege is especially useful in early-stage companies, management, and entrepreneurship. Those are the positions that make most of the millionaires in tech, and they’re the hardest to access.
This kind of issue isn’t a technical problem you can fix overnight, or something that you can say once and your privilege is checked. I’ve talked about it before and I’ll talk about it again, at some point. So, there’s no real closer to this one. Talk to you later.