Silicon Valley Management Crises Escalate

May 10, 2019

Early in my career I worked at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. There was lots of chatter about management from the MBAs. I listened, and I learned that management was a slippery fish.

Now the engineers, mathematicians, and scientists who are in charge of a couple of successful Silicon Valley firms are dealing with slippery fish, and some of these creatures are poisonous.

Let’s look at two examples.

The first appears in “Google Employees Ask Alphabet CEO to Address Walkout.” The idea is that employees are not happy, and they want to make this clear to colleagues and the real journalists who pay attention to real news. I learned:

The plea for Page’s involvement comes after months of worker protests against the mishandling of sexual harassment incidents, along with retaliation against those who report it, including the demotion and modifications of roles that female employees who reported harassment held.

Google denies retaliation, and some of the world’s smartest people employed by the online advertising firm are unhappy.

Unhappy employees means trouble with a capital T. There may be a Meredith Wilson opportunity here.

The second has been captured in statements from Chris Hughes, one of the “founders” of Facebook. This Facebooker has been on talking head TV, but the article “Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes: It’s Time to Break Up Facebook” does a good job of recycling the opinion piece Mr. Hughes crafted for the New York Times. I noted:

Hughes says that Zuckerberg has “unchecked power” and influence “far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government.”

Okay, a founder and “friend” of Facebook is criticizing the company. The fix is painful because breaking up is hard to do.

Okay, two examples.

The Google problem is a revolt from within. The Facebook problem is a revolt of the insiders.

Neither Google nor Facebook is handling the management challenges in a smooth, friction free way.

Maybe it is time to call in the MBAs along with lots of lawyers to help with this Iron Man events? The high school science club is just not working. Sure, the money is still flowing, but like a gurgling Mauna Loa, further events are inevitable. Foosballl and colorful mouse pads won’t do the job. And algorithms? Nope.

Stephen E Arnold, May 10, 2019


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