The Biggest Dick Moves of Silicon Valley 2013
Although we try to focus on the positive, innovative—and dare we say revolutionary?—moments in tech here at Valleywag, the startup world isn't without its occasional bad eggs. It's a shame this crowd had to tarnish an otherwise lovely community—here are the worst bad actors of an otherwise golden year.
Sean Parker got married. But unlike most nuptials, the Facebook billionaire insisted upon a decadent, ecosystem-damaging, fantasy-themed romp in the woods, and then paid his way out of the consequences. Of course, the only person who can top Sean Parker is Sean Parker: as a followup, he proceeded to throw a public internet tantrum about the so-strange backlash to his ceremony, and made his wife miss their honeymoon while he penned a 10,000 word psychotic screed for TechCrunch.
Dick victims: His wife, his guests, trees, the internet.
Next year: It looks like Parker finally learned to shut up—if he's smart, expect his low profile to extend into 2014.
Tim Armstrong humiliated and fired a coworker on a conference call. If you're going to be a terrible boss, be a terrible boss in relative privacy.
Dick victims: Fired employee Abel Lenz, the corporate morale at AOL
Next year: Armstrong will likely have to fire a lot more people, without the time to add such a lovely personal touch.
Larry Ellison cheated in the America's Cup, and then won the America's Cup. One of Earth's richest men continued his perfect James Bond villain routine, with a likability index that is approaching absolute zero.
Dick victims: The city of San Francisco, other extremely rich competitive yacht team owners.
Next year: I don't know how you top this. Drop sharks onto the sailboats out of airplanes? Pave over his private Hawaiian island and use it as a paintball arena? He'll surely find a way.
Pax Dickinson wrote this year's most impressive streak of bigoted and sexist tweets. He very quickly lost his job as CTO of Business Insider, but not before becoming a martyr for the ever-growing Twitter Bigot Movement, with plenty of support from the "manosphere" populated by libertarian pick-up artists.
Dick victims: Pax Dickinson. Business Insider job listings that listed Pax as the hiring manager.
Next year: "Snapchat for adults"
Paul Graham used his influence on the Silicon Valley ecosystem to argue that there is a "One quality that's a really bad indication is a CEO with a strong foreign accent" over and over and over again in public. Graham brushed off pleas that he recognize his underlying bias, but instead he hid under the banner of "empirical evidence," even though there haven't been enough foreign CEOs admitted into Y Combinator for anything approaching statistical significance.
Dick victims: Foreign founders. The caliber of YC companies. People seeking funding that don't follow Graham's rule: "I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg."
Next year: Same as it ever was.
Jesse Thomas posted videos and photographs of another startup founder drunk and naked during a "Geeks on a Plane" trip to India sponsored by Google and Paypal from his company's Instagram account. Thomas got a taste of his own medicine when a vile email he sent to his cofounder and then girlfriend surfaced as his agency, JESS3, imploded around him.
Dick victims: The naked founder. His company and its hard-working employees.
Next year: Taking down all those JESS3 stickers.
Patrick McConlogue used a homeless human being to self-promote an otherwise middling existence as a New York programmer. He also successfully propagated the notion that coding can solve homelessness—to the great applause of coders, and the chagrin of anyone who is or might be homeless.
Dick victims: Marginalized portions of western society.
Next year: Ending racism by teaching a Latino teen to mine BitCoins.
Greg Gopman continued the year's trend of social media self-immolation by raging against San Francisco's homeless population via Facebook. A good #lifehack is to keep hideous, backwards opinions to yourself, or at least restrict them to a small portion of your web friends using Facebook's handy and intuitive privacy settings.
Dick victims: Greg Gopman.
Next year: Trying to hide his face outside a homeless shelter.
Evan Spiegel made Hollywood producers—eager for the next startup intrigue screenplay—begin to drool. His colossal, shameless screwing-over of his former Snapchat frat brother and business partner is well-documented. You'd think a guy in a position to turn down billions of dollars would have a little empathy.
Dick victims: Reggie Brown, Evan Spiegel's legal team.
Next year: Settling out of court.
Sheryl Sandberg tried to hire an intern for Lean In without paying them. The editorial director for Sandberg's top-down feminist movement later claimed the unpaid labor was for her and not Lean In. But it served as stark reminder that Sandberg's exultation of labor "whether paid, unpaid, or poorly paid," benefits the top of the pyramid more than the bottom.
Dick victims: Young women wondering whether it's okay to ask to get paid for their work.
Next year: Prep work for Sandberg, 2016
Travis Kalanick instituted surge pricing as high as 8x in the middle of a December snow storm and then laughed at customers who complained. Kalanick is within his rights as the Ayn Rand of the convenience economy to gouge riders. But while he continually claims the goal is the maximize the number of rides, in the midst of public outcry, Kalanick himself admitted, "very very few people accept high multiples," in response to this tweet. Immediately after he said "I wish I could take that one back."
Dick victims: Jessica Seinfeld.
Next year: Trying to make sure he doesn't get Dick Costolo'd before Uber's IPO.
Happy holidays and a disruptive, paradigm-shifting New Year to all of the above—we look forward to 2014! If we missed anyone, drop 'em below in the comments.