There is a baseline assumption, mostly among ‘techies’ that the smartest people doing the most interesting things are all in Silicon Valley. I also share a bit of this sentiment, but I think it is not entirely true. There are undoubtedly many very smart people in Silicon Valley, but it is also true that most people in Silicon Valley don’t really know what’s going on with the rest of the world.
I know there are many extremely exciting things happening right now in SV, from self-driving cars to electronic vehicles, to generalized artificial intelligence. There are also many pointless, mundane things getting outsized attention in SV.
Everything has its downside, and Silicon Valley is no exception.
Some of the worst things about Silicon Valley;
- Don’t even think about starting a family with an average salary.
“It is amazingly difficult to start/have a family if you make ‘normal’ salaries here (you know, only in the $100k range). The amount of wealth in the area has driven up home prices near the places where the jobs are too astronomical levels.”–Chris Schrader, Business Intelligence Consultant
- You will meet some arrogant people here.
“I grew up in an educationally arrogant environment. Students and adults alike were snotty about people who would go to community college / “low tier college” (i.e. SJSU, and even highly ranked schools like UC Davis) because everyone’s parents had a Ph.D. from a prestigious university.”–Min Ju Lee, Google X
- Watch out for fake mentors.
“There is plenty of self-proclaimed ‘mentors’ fishing around to be an adviser to your nascent startup. They end up eating equity and not doing much except just keep connecting you to other useless people. My guess is that they do it because by amassing a huge collection of startups they ‘advise’, they can hope for at least one of them going Instagram.”–Pallav Sharda, ex-physician, now in digital health
- If you’re over 40, you’re over the hill.
“It’s not that anyone believes that older (40+) programmers become incompetent because that’s clearly untrue, but there’s extremely harsh age grading in this ecosystem. People don’t want to work with older people whose careers are less stellar than what they (naively, stupidly) think awaits them.”–Michael O. Church
- You could get caught up in the hype.
“Don’t get too caught up in the hype. The Bay Area/Silicon Valley can feel like the center of the universe at times for a tech entrepreneur. You’ll find that many who live there believe that and you’ll probably sense a bit of the arrogance we sensed. I remember feeling like I was surrounded by the best and brightest, and that living there meant that I had the best chance of being involved in some of the most exciting projects ever… the reality is that most projects and start-ups there fail and success is elusive.”–Chris Raymond
- Public transportation is pretty bad.
“Very poor [public transit] for a region that is viewed by the rest of the US as a collection of crunchy granola-loving tree-huggers. Bay Area Rapid Transit does not circle the Bay. If you want to start at any airport (SFO/OAK/SJC) and make a complete loop around the Bay, you will have to use 4 separate transit networks in a best-case scenario.”–Jacob Vincent
- The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
“The dark side of Silicon Valley is that they are part of the machine that creates a massive divide between the rich and the poor. The ultimate goal of technology is to create efficiencies within other businesses or consumers lives.”–Mark Schnewart
There is this rush of excitement I feel when I see nerds elevated to the status of stardom and being highly desirable commodities. Silicon Valley is not the only place for a techie to be, but it is definitely one of the places to be.