But the event also demonstrated the seductiveness of digital elitism, which incorporates social consciousness and intellectual discussion. “If we’re going to achieve greatness in the twenty-first century,” Eric Schmidt said, “…we have to start with some Silicon Valley thinking.” He stated that “Ultimately, this world will be owned by an entrepreneur.”
Digital elitism is optimistic, in that technology is positioned as a solution to an array of difficult problems. At the same time, it inculcates an air of superiority and a universality of experience that truly only applies to a very small number of the world’s most privileged individuals.
Digital elitism does not reconfigure power; it entrenches it. It provides justification for enormous gaps between rich and poor, for huge differences between average people and highly sought-after engineers. It idealizes a “better class of rich people” (as Kara Swisher put it) who evangelize philanthropy and social entrepreneurship — but it also promotes the idea that entrepreneurship is a catch-all solution, and that a startup culture is the best way to solve any problem.
DISCLAIMER: As a means of easily explaining these roles, I’m going to express them hierarchically from an org chart perspective. There are entrepreneurial folks out there who are going to shake their fingers vigorously in my general direction, saying, “Keep our orgs flat! Titles are toxic! Why are you forcing bureaucratic power trips on me!”
These folks haven’t seen shit. It’s a good thing – the lack of preconceived notions keeps them mentally and entrepreneurially limber – but they haven’t seen shit. They don’t understand how groups of people organize, nor have they ever attempted to build something with more than a handful of individuals. They have an intense belief in the power of the individual. This is their bias because this is who they are: a handful of bright people with a dream.
It’s all fun and games until not everyone fits around the same lunch table anymore.
In some respects, Hubbard discovered himself on that unlucky voyage, which he termed a “glorious adventure.” His infatuation with motion pictures first became evident on this trip, although no movies were actually made. Despite the defections, Hubbard demonstrated an impressive capacity to summon others to join him on what was clearly a shaky enterprise. Throughout his life he would enlist people—especially young people—in romantic, ill-conceived projects, often at sea, where he was out of reach of process servers. He was beginning to invent himself as a charismatic leader. The grandeur of his project was not yet evident, even to him, but in the Caribbean Motion Picture Expedition he clearly defined himself as an explorer, sailor, filmmaker, and leader of men, even though he failed spectacularly in each of those categories. He had an incorrigible ability to float above the evidence and to extract from his experiences lessons that others would say were irrational and even bizarre. Habitually, and perhaps unconsciously, Hubbard would fill this gap—between reality and his interpretation of it—with mythology. This was the source of what some call his genius, and others call his insanity.
L. Ron Hubbard: entrepreneur.
After Twitter and Instagram in 2009 and 2011 respectively, Snapchat posed the latest, real threat to Facebook’s omnipresence. To Mark and Facebook, seeing people stop to post a photo to Snapchat instead of Facebook must have been disturbing, and therefore Snapchat needed to be bought. But the very fact that Facebook needed to buy Snapchat is perhaps why Snapchat needed to say no. In posing a real threat to Facebook, Snapchat proved that it may have that one elusive thing that no money can buy: the ability to change how people behave, to become central to their relationships with one another, to re-architect human contact, to be masters of the human domain. The ability to shape the world’s culture is something that Facebook has and doesn’t want to lose, and as evidenced by the buyout offer and rejection, Snapchat has and doesn’t want to lose either. And this, to a founder of a hot startup, is how 3 billion dollars becomes meaningless.
As the employees sat, hushed, Dick [Costolo] paced in front of them with the microphone in his hand and told a story about their recent move.
He said that when he had directed the movers to transport the artwork from the old office, he had instructed them to leave one piece of art behind. It had hung in the Folsom Street office since late December 2009. The piece of art was in a black frame with a white border. In a bit of irony, it had been hung upside down. And in bold white letters on a dark background, it made a statement in thirty-six characters: “Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow.”
The new office, Dick explained, meant that it was time for Twitter to grow up as a company. To the end of rolling site outages and a long list of other problems that had plagued Twitter’s infancy.
"We’re leaving the motto of making better mistakes tomorrow in the old building," Dick said. "That’s not the type of company we are anymore."
This is by far one of my favorite bits from the much anticipated Nick Bilton Twitter book. Dick Costolo, I salute you.