Why you should care
Uber just got $1.2 billlion to play with, but it’s not just unbridled hubris in the Valley.
Uber’s announcement yesterday that it had raised $1.2 billion and is now valued at a whopping $40 billion just underscores it: The streets of Silicon Valley are paved in gold. Witness the billion-dollar men — so often men — who can turn the worst gaffes into gain. Last month’s exhibit par excellence was, of course, Emil Michael, the high-up Uber exec who proposed a million-dollar fund for opposition research on journalists. Journalists! We ink-stained wretches lambasted Uber all we could, but investors don’t care. “The events of the recent weeks have shown us that we also need to invest in internal growth and change,” Uber chief Travis Kalanick wrote yesterday, presumably referring to the missteps. Sorry not sorry, he might have said.
It’s not just unbridled hubris out here in the Valley, though, and you can be a power player without being a jerk. These OZY stories about entrepreneurs and mover-shakers show tech’s fundamental — and changemaking — promise: to connect.
When I ask Jana Rich to work her magic on me, I have the warm yet affirming sensation of being in a nurturing therapist’s office. She leans forward across the light-wood conference table, clasps her hands together, and asks me: Why did you move across the country for that job? What is it you really wanted to do? And what about that other dream? It makes sense that Rich, in another universe, imagined herself getting a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Where she has ended up is cushier: She is one of Silicon Valley’s top recruiters, with a hot roster of clients. Read the story here.
Thumbtack, the “biggest startup you’ve never heard of,” aims to fix a problem you’ll know well if you can’t find a reliable plumber or are a reliable plumber: It provides a platform for consumers to solicit local services, from housecleaning to dog-walking and DJ’ing. And it aims to help people who provide those services find clients. Others have tried to tackle the problem of local services before. While Yelp and Angie’s List have long compiled listings and reviews of service providers, Thumbtack says it’s more than a directory — it’s a connector that eliminates the hassle of sifting through listings. Read the story here.
Standing in a Silicon Valley bookstore, Jim Dwyer knows not too many people are going to show up to his reading. There is, after all, a huge San Francisco ballgame tonight. Maybe that’s why the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times seems content waxing long and poetic about the motivation behind More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook , which chronicles the history of nonprofit social network Diaspora. Read the story here.