Michael Arrington has something to say to all the people speaking out about hardships in startup life. In short: Suck it up and keep coding.
In Uncrunched yesterday, the
lawyer blogger venture capitalist seem to take personal offense to recent headlines about how pattern recognition can keep African-Americans out of the VC old boys club and employee pushback against harsh expectations at startups like Zynga.
In the wake of the apparent suicide of 22-year-old Diaspora co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy and the discussion about secretive struggles with depression that triggered, Mr. Arrington’s missive struck a tonedeaf note. But his retort is even odder.
It pretty much boils down to Mr. Arrington getting angry that these whiners don’t realize they’re a part of history.
He starts by digging through the annals of Silicon Valley for some blogposts (circa 1994) from Jamie Zawinski, an early engineer at Netscape. They’re a really great read and insightful, but we’re confused as to why Mr. Arrington is responding to the notion that, “Maybe some of those people think that they’ve been worked harder than anyone else has ever worked in Silicon Valley.” Did anyone actually say that? Or is he just having a hey kids, get off my lawn episode?
Then he goes on to bemoan a dystopic future where startup workers have some reasonable expectation of healthcare and work/life balance:
“It feels like we’re getting there. That not too long from now people will be talking about maximum working hours, minimum numbers of engineers assigned to complete a given task. And, shudder, unionization of startup workers.”
While it’s hard to imagine how startups would function without engineers and early employees willing to devote their waking hours to a heads down approach, it’s harder to see how discussing these issues inspires so much vitriol from Mr. Arrington, especially since by-and-large startup workers are self-selecting bunch of type A’s.
“But if deep down you know that you’re part of history, that the things you are building will be written about and thought about forever, then maybe after that good cry after a short sleep under your desk you’ll pull yourself together and remember. That you are a person in the Arena. A Pirate. That you are here to make a dent in the universe . . . . Work hard. Cry less. And realize you’re part of history.”
Wonder if he gave that world historical motivational speech to MC Hammer et al when he invested in DanceJam?