Nothing to See Here

Penny Kim’s Medium post entitled “I Got Scammed by a Silicon Valley Startup” has set off a firestorm of debate on Hacker News. Now, The New York Times has written about mismanagement at Kim’s former company (WrkRiot) as if it were symptomatic of Silicon Valley startup life. The truth is that the practices described in her article should have immediately set off alarm bells no matter where the company was located. This fraud is not specific to Silicon Valley: it’s the story of a con man who used his flash and dazzle to destroy others’ dreams. Also, WrkRiot never commanded any influence in Silicon Valley – no VC investors, no big brand customers, no superstar engineers, nothing. The only compelling aspect of the story might be the observation that even even the best and the brightest can fall for a con. But is this news? Don’t get me wrong. I can see why the Times ran this story: it’s clickthrough bait. But I think we all need to move past this idea of Silicon Valley exceptionalism. We all know deep down that Silicon Valley is no better or worse than the rest of the world. Why do we then act so surprised when bad things happen to good people? Let’s move on, people. Nothing to see here.