Industry Of Cool
A friend of mine says that in this town, you're either a celebrity or a paparazzo. She has a point. Rock stars and the people who love them are everywhere. So are the gossip rags, and they chronicle the celebs' every move, from what they wear and the parties they attend to the people they date.
This would be old news if we were referring to Hollywood, but this is Silicon Valley, not L.A., and we're talking about geeks who write code for a living, not buff boy bands gyrating on stage.
Blame Web 2.0. In the past 18 months, companies that enable podcasting, blogging, Web video and social networking have raised nearly half a billion dollars. Forget engineers starting companies because they want to "change the world." Today's tech entrepreneurs seem to have a simpler goal: fame and fortune.
A few months ago, I interviewed Russel Simmons and Jeremy Stoppelman, who have raised $6 million to build Yelp, a Web site of amateur restaurant and bar reviews. (The two founders are in their late 20s, both single. They wear beat-up designer jeans with ironic T-shirts, and they have the kind of hair that forces them to flip their heads in order to see. In other words, rock stars.) At the end of the interview, I asked them where they thought they would be in five years. This is what they said: