I've been a fan of the television show Silicon Valley on HBO since it premiered. It's as good as anything at skewering the startup culture of the 2010s.

But we're living in a hyperloop of absurdity now, in which fiction just can't keep up with reality.

For example, Sunday's Silicon Valley season opener featured the main character, Richard, testifying before Congress in an obvious nod to Mark Zuckerberg -- who indeed really did testify before Congress just days before the season premiere (but, obviously, after it was filmed).

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg's real-life performance has in turn been skewered by critics for not being as cool as the fake Zuckerberg that Aaron Sorkin dreamed up for the 2010 movie, The Social Network

I mean, it's only Tuesday, and so far we've seen: 

  • The ongoing fallout from Zuckerberg's congressional sparring match with U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the 2016 election
  • Continued reports that Facebook is letting political campaigns run ads that contain falsehoods ahead of 2020
  • Wasn't there something about 46 state attorneys general joining the antitrust investigation of the company?
  • A report that it's letting far-right political media bend the rules in a way that it won't allow the other side of the spectrum
  • Another report that some Facebook employees posted an open letter on an internal Facebook network criticizing the company

I don't really have an angle in the Facebook fights. I reunited with my college girlfriend (and got married) as a result of the platform, so no matter what happens with the Facebook empire, I can't view it as a net negative, at least not personally.

But I'm just thinking of everything else that's happened in Startup World and Unicornland and FAANGtopia over the past few years, as Farhad Manjoo pointed out Sunday: from Theranos to WeWork, and everything in between.

Allow me to flatter you, the Inc.com reader. Because there's a difference between starting a company or amassing a fortune, and being a true entrepreneur.

Yes, it might be nice to start a company that makes so much money that I have to stop and think and count on my fingers how many zeroes append to my net worth.

But maybe I'm just getting old. I crave companies that can point to simple, incontrovertible metrics: jobs created, profits made, worlds improved.

Along with that, I'm looking for business leaders who think of financing as a milestone, not a goalpost -- and who can actually explain their businesses in a way that a classroom of fourth graders would understand.

And leave the absurdity and drama for Mike Judge and HBO.

Published on: Oct 29, 2019
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