Silicon Valley must now be trying to make you hate it. There's no other explanation for the "Startup and Tech Mixer," an assemblage of 2,500 San Francisco techies who sipped cocktails, networked, rode a mechanical bull, and produced some of the most nightmarishly obnoxious quotes I've ever read.
Recode's Nellie Bowles was on the scene at the W Hotel, and what she heard seems impossible and so over the top, it's hard to believe—why would these people say these things to a reporter? But then you think about the people we're dealing with here, and it sadly makes sense. Startup people love nothing more than treating themselves like children, and the #stmixer, as it was tagged online, is like a rich man-child geek's 20-something Bar Mitzvah:
"We don't use the word 'party.' We're bringing consciously designed spaces and innovative thinkers together to inspire," said Vecchio, who is 26 and formerly worked at Apple and J.P. Morgan. "This is our fifth mixer. People are like, 'Andrew, what could be next?' And it's like, 'Oh. Done.' We have a mechanical bull. Game-changer. Innovate."
The game has changed. No irony in the building, and self-awareness departed the scene years ago. It's not enough to have a obscenely embarrassing party: you need to stick in poor man's TED Talk seminars to fill it out. And it's not enough to throw a poor man's TED Talk—you need to bring in arcade machines, DJs, and an open bar to distract guests from the inanity.
— Startup & Tech Mixer (@stmixer) February 8, 2014
The entire article is worth reading, if only for lines like these, proof that some techies can't just do something, but need to do it in the most obnoxious, tacky manner available:
Guests wore name tags with their Twitter handles, and stood elbow to elbow, while a DJ spun pop and electronic music. Every hour, a guru led a meditation session in a room called the Serenity Space.
"Most startup mixers are like, "Let's go to a bar and get f—ed up." Here, there's a mechanical bull. There's an arcade. This is actually how people make deeper connections.
"Actually, I am. I'm in wine tech," said 33-year-old Tony Nguyen. "I honestly didn't have a specific plan coming here, but, hey, I am having fun."
These are the real words of real people at the forefront of our sort-of-fake economy. All that was missing here, it seems, were plate-spinners and a set by Flo Rida—a seminar on "The Kindness Economy" had to do, instead.
The kiddos loved it, of course:
— Burr Pilger Mayer (@BPMCPA) February 8, 2014
— Vinod Palan (@palanvinod) February 8, 2014
— Ash (@Ashinsf) February 8, 2014
— Michaela Brown (@michaela_brown) February 9, 2014
But what does it mean when our cadets of industry are impossible to tell apart from parody?