Silicon Valley: Are Its Governance and Innovation Showing Signs of Deterioration?

March 30, 2019

I was zipping through the news items which assorted filter bubble robots fire at me each day. I noticed three items, which on the surface, appear to be unrelated. I asked myself, “What if there is a connection among each of these items?” Let’s take a look.

car in hole small

Was this driven by a Silicon Valley bro or smart software?

The first item is Apple’s admission that it cannot create a viable wireless charging device. The company has labored for years and admitted that it cannot pull off this “innovation.” “Apple Kills AirPower Charging Station, but Here Are Some Alternatives (for a Single Device)” states:

Citing technical difficulties in meeting its own standards, Apple has issued a statement announcing the long awaited AirPower wireless charging mat will not ship, ever. AirPower was announced alongside the iPhone X with a pending release date, and now, more than 550 days later, it has been cancelled.

Apple has people. Apple has money. Apple has failed. Problems exist with the butterfly keyboard. What’s happening?

The second item is about disappearing emails and messages. Some might describe these digital artifacts as evidence. The article “Some of Mark Zuckerberg’s Old Facebook Posts Have Disappeared” reports:

the social network accidentally deleted some of Zuckerberg’s old Facebook posts, including all the ones he made in 2007 and 2008.

This is interesting because I thought backups were mostly routine. Apparently this was not the case at Facebook. What’s happening?

The third item is about a failure to get one’s act together. I read “Google Accidentally Leaks Its ‘Nest Hub Max’ Smart Display.” I learned:

in a leak on its own website, Google might have accidentally revealed an upcoming product called the Nest Hub Max.

What’s happening?

Now let’s consider several hypotheses which may help me creep a bit closer to the thread linking these apparently isolated events.

  1. The three companies are not able to govern their commercial empires. A failure to deliver a product, an egregious and difficult to believe statement about “losing email”, and an inability to organize a news item—the problem is governance of the business process.
  2. The three companies seem indifferent to the implications of each firm’s individual actions: Apple’s misstatement about a device, Facebook’s continued dancing around information, and Google’s PR flub—each illustrates a deeper issue. I term it “high school science club management method.” Bright folks see what they see, and not what others see. HSSCMM at work.
  3. The three companies demonstrate the inherent weaknesses of the Silicon Valley approach: failure, ineptness or duplicitous behavior, and taking one’s eye off the ball.

Just a series of hypotheses, mind you. What if these examples are the tip of a fast melting iceberg?

Stephen E Arnold, March 30, 2019


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