Dropouts, Super Pumps, WeCrashed are good TVs, but bad lessons

For a short while at the beginning of this century, the founders of startups stood somewhere between rock stars and the gods. Until the mid-2010s, the founders dominated Silicon Valley, which dominated the United States. change the world. Everyone idolized Steve Jobs, flash mobs were things, and likewise anything seemed possible. During this Obama-era techno-optimism era, thousands of years of startup founders, Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, Travis Kalanick of Uber, Adam Neumann of WeWork — stand out among both venture capitalists and regular Americans. became. It was the moment before each of them collapsed.

Over the past few years, a treasure trove of books, podcasts, and reports about these former founders has been released. These fraudulent and bad behavior stories provided the entertainment industry with a simple feed to create shows. The drop outAbout Theranos; Super pumpAbout Uber; WeCrashed, About WeWork. Not surprisingly, Holmes, Karanick, and Neuman are young, charismatic, and complex people who represent a sort of American dream. Each has endeavored to make the world a better place in its own way. The worship of the founders and the free-flowing venture capital heightened their worst urges. Their stories write themselves, and streaming services stumble on themselves to air them first.

But by enhancing these stories in their own way, they can fall into the same trap they are trying to warn. These founders have already been paid a lot of cash and attention. Importantly, there is a risk of reading like a Hagiography rather than a cautionary story.

Of course, these stories are especially appealing to the tech companies that make them. Holmes, whose blood analysis hardware has never actually done what she said, has been convicted of deceiving investors and is facing prison time. Karanick and Neuman are not. On legal issues, they both showed a significant portion of bad behavior — they are bad enough to be banished from the company they founded. Just to taste, the founder of Ride Hailing was recorded to have beaten the driver who said it was. Karanick held a meeting at a strip club to foster a corporate culture that allowed female employees to sexually harass. rice field. His CEO dug up the dirt of journalists who were critical of the company (at a dinner aimed at improving Karanic) an image among journalists, no less).

Neuman, CEO of office leasing at a party, carries weeds across borders on company jets, leases his company’s real estate to fill his pockets, and treats staff like dirt. I did. Perhaps most shamefully, he claimed his office. The leasing company intended to “raise the awareness of the world.” It goes without saying that these founders are hundreds of millions of dollars of money burned out while acting as follows, without seeing any profit (or income in the case of Theranos). They were God’s gifts to the world.

Facebook Mark Zuckerberg (Social network 2010) and Steve Jobs of Apple (2010)Jobs 2013 and Steve Jobs (2015) was undoubtedly critical of the protagonist, but these films were made when their company received a relatively high reputation. At the time, people were certainly worried about social media consumption, but Facebook wasn’t yet a tool for genocide and democracy. Apple is still praised for its innovative iPhone and factory. There has not yet been widespread condemnation of labor violations in the country and the use of conflict minerals mined by children. The movie was reportedly made before the government began to sue Facebook for illegal monopoly and antitrust claims on Apple’s App Store.

“Always be Haslin” in this economy?
Elizabeth Morris / Showtime

The latest high-tech entertainment is also known by the myriad social changes that have taken place since half a century in these hyped unicorns. The MeToo movement was launched to hold men responsible for sexual harassment and alienation of women — a long-standing Silicon Valley issue. BlackLivesMatter’s protests targeted the systematic repression of US colored races, but the top tech companies remained predominantly white and male. Wealth inequality has widened, and Americans have accused millionaires. And finally, the pandemic has killed millions of people around the world, and people from different industries have begun to rethink where they work in their lives. — It became passé.

Thus, these new shows are working together to convey the collateral damage caused by these companies. That wasn’t the case with cancer patients who were unaware of the blood tests they received from Theranos, the Uber driver who got the car back. The truth is, Uber and WeWork women who have been sexually harassed by the hands of a lionized boy are wondering.

But in all these shows, these nods feel a bit weak. I’m more aware of the other characters, but they’re not the central stage. This isn’t primarily about Uber drivers, cancer patients, or female technicians. Worker. It’s still the story of the tech founders, and we’re still mostly obsessed with them. The founder’s cult is complex, but it hasn’t been undone.

In these shows, criticism of these flawed protagonists is softened by sympathy. Knowing that Holmes had been sexually assaulted at Stanford University, I speculate that she is deepening her voice to succeed in a world made for men. -WeWork’s front door salesman and wife Rebecca lamented her father going to jail when she said she was calling to help a man at WeWork’s summer camp. rice field. For an on-demand woman called Boob-er, she counts women like Austin Guite and Arianna Huffington as top advisors. Of course, people wouldn’t have shown about these people in the first place if they were purely evil or irrelevant. It will be a good TV.

The show is also careful to, beyond the protagonist, allow these founders to get too close to the sun and distribute responsibility to the economic and cultural environment of Silicon Valley, which encouraged them. Softbank CEO and Chief WeWork Investor Masayoshi Son is already overconfident in Neuman’s thinking bigger.

Elizabeth Holmes, played by Amanda Seyfried, sits in front of the slogan,

The startup slogan is the last 10 years.
Michael Desmond / Hulu

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison advised Holmes that he shipped buggy software while he was on the boat, but that it wasn’t the same as deceiving people in need of medical care. I should have known. People (Uber) and office space (WeWork) understand that they can’t scale as much as software. For some reason, their visionary talents did not extend to themselves or their actions, so they were keen to consolidate their glory. By changing the world, they endorsed many of the worst parts. The tech companies producing these shows had to look for a shipwreck in their backyard that wouldn’t disappoint.

And perhaps it’s no coincidence that these tech arrogant stories are being created by other tech platforms such as Hulu and Apple TV, as well as the premium cable network Showtime, which is engaged in its own suspicious battle. Stumble yourself to produce more content for already saturated viewers — this is another sign of ongoing bubbling around tech companies. Like easy-to-get venture capital, they pushed Theranos, Uber, WeWork to bad behavior, and even to the silver screen, while fighting to quickly deliver the content they needed to their viewers. , We need to wonder: is it sustainable?

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