Rant alert! How Silicon Valley is becoming more like Bollywood

There are many things I like about Silicon Valley. The things that need work though, is that it chases the shiny new thing faster than the fashion industry. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but its the me-too”ness” that bugs you after a while. Kinda like Bollywood.

Take storytelling for instance. Every incubator and startup now has a “storyline” that they adhere to. Similar to Bollywood.

The Bollywood stories are boy-meets-girl variety garden romance, or the 5 different variations of someone’s been wronged.

Silicon Valley now has their “storyline” – “I was doing <something inane> and I faced <this really silly problem> so I decided to build <this toy> because I am passionate about <something they really are not passionate about>.

Take this from ex Admob founder Omar

“The idea originated when my wife was shopping for a coffee table. She spent of bunch of time browsing the web, collecting her options in a gmail draft, and then sent me an email of blue links that I was supposed to click on one by one to form an opinion. By the time I got to the fourth one, I had forgotten what the first one looked like, what the prices of any of them were, and certainly had not checked reviews or anything else that would help me give her a more informed opinion. At the same time, my family was planning a vacation with a group of friends, and all of our decisions from hotels, to activities, to areas to visit, were all being made in roughly the same way.”

The pez dispenser story is so 1999 was my thinking, but every startup’s got the same story going. Scratch your own itch is what its called.

Here’s another one from Pair

We had a problem. We had just moved to Mountain View, but our girlfriends were still in Canada. We tried using text message, and Facebook to stay in touch, but we really felt like there should be a better way to stay in touch with our partners. We realized that we were sending over 90% of our messages to a single person using tools that were designed to send messages to everyone you know. There didn’t seem to be a better way. So we made one 🙂

There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but its very cliche and sounds construed and fake.

What’s your take? Is it lame or does it really “make the company more human and personable”?

8 thoughts on “Rant alert! How Silicon Valley is becoming more like Bollywood”

  1. Seems fake, fake, fake all the way. Cliched to the core 🙂 Creative original thought comes from being authentic – and everyone is following a “story line” – whatever is quickly absorbed and accepted, never mind if the same line or core theme has been used to death.

    In the current times that we live – where media marketers determine and define what is desirable, what works, what does not, how success and failure is defined – and a general media-numbed public as the audience is lapping it up – there really is very little desire or scope for original thought. Its like collectively humanity is operating from the creativity generated by a couple of dozen brains (even in that maybe only a portion of the neurons are being used) and the rest of the sea of humanity (7 billion of them) are just logging on to the same community brain.

    Individual thought, originality, creativity, spontaneity, innocence – sacrificed at the altar of conformity and commerce.

    Have a good day!!

  2. Wow, hadn’t really thought of it this way before. But I wonder what the other options are to build a story around your company – there were no products in the industry that were doing x and I thought I could make a cool y million dollars in z years? 🙂

    1. Storytelling is an art form. The truly unique ones stand out as those that have a great plot, quirky characters and a gripping narrative. All others are just a fable.

  3. Good point Mukund, but this is happening in India as well – “I wanted to go to my home town, and it was awful trying to book a ticket, so I started my own online ticketing co” which I gather was the story invented by the trade press, who altered the original story “we built an ERP for travel, and then stumbled upon this idea to do what our prospective ERP clients were doing – booking tickets”. However, we must recognize that the public will only root for romance, melodrama, action etc.; arty story-lines are for national awards aspirants. And, it’s the trade press’ job to sell to the public. Net-Net it’s a symbiotic relationship – public gets what it wants; companies get the press, and the trade press earn a livelihood.

  4. I partly blame the media but I am also sure that it’s a self correcting problem. There was a time that journalists wanted readymade stories so that they can sell a company as a human interest feature. Now even the journalists are bored of everyone presenting similar stories so I’m sure some new form of story telling will take over.

  5. As VCs become incapable of judging the real value of an idea, they start to focus on stupid stuff like these fake stories. If story is the most important part of the venture, you are investing into smoke and mirrors.

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