Silicon Valley must change its ways

Silicon Valley must change its ways

We technology journalists usually love everything about Silicon Valley. We love the founding fathers of IT businesses, the decorations of offices, we find new ways to motivate people very innovative, we are amazed by the personalities of the valley, and all in all we just love the culture of Silicon Valley. It seems so progressive and groundbreaking.

However, lately I have begun to think maybe we are too enchanted to see reality. It is very heartbreaking for me to admit that people who I love so much are showing symptoms of regular CEOs. I thought the age of egocentric CEOs, whose only job was to increase shareholder value was over. I thought the way to do business with the new era of technology-led industries were more nature and human friendly. I thought technology firms would be more transparent but now I realize I was so wrong.

Recent developments with UBER, Google, Amazon, and Elon Musk have shown me Silicon Valley needs a drastic change.

According to Newsweek, just as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was named the richest person in modern history, Amazon workers across Europe have gone on strike to protest pay and work conditions. Warehouse workers in Germany, Spain and Poland are protesting against workplace health hazards, and being required to work more hours without receiving bonuses.

More than 1,800 workers in Spain walked off the job on Monday, July 16 in an action that was planned to continue until Wednesday, July 18. Thousands of workers from warehouses in Germany went on strike while workers in Poland decided to work only the minimum, which may have caused a slowdown.

The industrial action coincides with Prime Day, which offers special deals to Amazon customers over 36 hours. It also comes as Bezos’s worth rose to $152 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

There are reports that in the warehouses, people cannot even go to toilets and use empty bottles instead because of the pressure to do a certain amount of work to be eligible for payment. In some areas, people sleep in tents near the warehouses because they cannot afford accommodation.

On one hand, you have the richest man in the world with a net worth of $152 billion and on the other hand, you have his workers, who cannot afford decent rent. This should have never happened.

We all know why UBER’s founding CEO had to step down, so I will not write more about him. However, Elon Musk’s latest comments about a cave diver who said Musk’s efforts during the Thai rescue operation was a publicity stunt was simply unacceptable. He should have never called him a pedophile. Musk is a hero of mine, you cannot imagine my sadness. What was he thinking? Do we all have to worship him no matter what he does?

Then, there was the latest news from Google. They were fined 4.3 billion euros by the EU. The European Commission’s action followed a three year probe into claims the firm’s mobile device strategy had unfairly strengthened its dominance of search.

Guys, come on! We were supposed to change the world. We were not supposed to be walking down the path of big industrial firms. We should have walked down a path that would make the world a better place. Or were we too naïve by believing you? Were people right when they said technology companies must be heavily scrutinized or else they will destroy the world?

I feel betrayed. I think I will change my heroes. Maybe the founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, should be my new hero. I hope Silicon Valley will change its ways soon. Let’s keep watching to see what their next move will be.

Ersu Ablak, Google, Uber, chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, Amazon