In the dog days of summer, tech news seems to slow down, as many companies hold off on big announcements until the world returns from their vacations. That means mid-August is the perfect time for Sunil Rajaraman’s brilliant, scathing and terrifyingly familiar satire of life in the trenches of Silicon Valley.
By turns hilarious and discomfiting, This is Your Life in Silicon Valley is the tale of one man’s stupifyingly superficial day in the Valley. It will ring true for anyone who toils in the middle levels of the tech industry here in the Bay Area—and beyond.
Rajaraman’s bio on Medium, where the post appeared earlier this week, says he’s co-founder of Scripted.com, CEO of The Bold Italic, and a columnist for Inc., as well as editor of Silicon Valley Grinch, which should tell you a bit about where he’s coming from. Still, in fewer than 2,500 words, he manages to hit on just about every Silicon Valley touchstone and truism, starting with VC “Cougar Night” at the Rosewood Hotel and ending with sunset over Interstate 280, (which a sign proclaims “America’s most beautiful freeway”).
Along the way, he name-drops at least 40 more, each one more telling than the last:
- Ambien-enhanced sleep
- Expensive nannies
- The incredible desirability of a Palo Alto school district
- Reading the news on Flipboard
- Liking, but not visiting, the California Academy of Sciences
- Blue Bottle coffee
- Roomba vacuum cleaners
- Sharing long articles you haven’t actually read—that someone else already shared anyway
- The Facebook political echo chamber
- Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm changes
- Facebook envy of your friends’ online lives
- Unaffordable apartments in neighborhoods that never see the sun
- Listening to podcasts on endless commutes
- Paying an expensive app to park your car
- The existential difficulty of choosing between Uber and Lyft
- Wondering what “business development” actually means
- Wondering what your stock options might actually be worth
- Starting every day in Salesforce
- Working for a 27-year-old CEO who has zero experience in your company’s market
- Sales blaming marketing for missing quotas
- The need for a “technical co-founder” to make your startup idea work
- Talking about disrupting email—over email
- Yelp and the quest to find the perfect restaurant for a business dinner
- “$17 dollar risotto and $9 glasses of Pleasanton-brewed IPA”
- Instagramming your every bite of dinner
- Hypocrisy over San Francisco’s homeless problem
- Jealousy over how much money you imagine your friends are making
- Checking the price of their houses online
- Regret over not taking that job at Facebook or Google way back when
- Being an “Excel ninja”
- Realizing your company is wasting big bucks on pointless luxuries
- Pricing real estate in cheaper alternatives, such as Austin. Or Fremont.
- Buying groceries online, no matter what the premium, while obsessing over money
- Titles like “Chief Hacking Officer” and “VP of Awesomeness”
- Admiring Malcom Gladwell
- “7 minute workouts”
- What TV shows you need to stay current on, and why
- Checking social media right before going to sleep
- Considering switching from iOS to Android
- Dreaming of meditation retreats
Believe it or not, this incredible list is incomplete. You have to read the original post for the full effect, including Rajaraman’s deadpan humor and spot-on illustrations.
This is Your Life in Silicon Valley made me laugh continuously, until I started to cry.