I doubt I would ever end up in Michael Moritz's vision, or even thoughts. But if for some reason I ever want / need to look for some venture capital, I think Moritz has moved to the bottom of the list as to who I would want to get it from. In this op-ed from The Financial Times, Moritz waxes poetically comparing China to Silicon Valley, and probably not in the direction one would think. He believes Silicon Valley should work harder, be more like China.
But many of the soul-sapping discussions seem like unwarranted distractions. In recent months, there have been complaints about the political sensibilities of speakers invited to address a corporate audience; debates over the appropriate length of paternity leave or work-life balances; and grumbling about the need for a space for musical jam sessions. These seem like the concerns of a society that is becoming unhinged.
For lack of a better grouping, I will call the start up driven technology scene in the United States, "Silicon Valley". Moritz here is complainng that Silicon Valley is complaining about things that don't matter including "paternity leave and work-life balance". By saying this he is saying that society is becoming unhinged. I would actually say these debates prove that society is maturing and realizing what is actually important in people's lives, and for every one it's not work and almighty dollar at number one.
I won't address the other two points he is complaining about regarding politics or fun things to do in the office, because I agree with him that these are minor overall issues. But these issues are raised by Silicon Valley workers because they have previously agreed with Moritz, the grind, was above all else the most important thing. They wanted perks at work because work was life. They wanted fun at work, because they didn't take a break from work or have a balance. That is where this is coming from.
But the paternity leave and work-life balance are major issues in Silicon Valley, and acros the country. But they are starker in an ecosystem that has driven long hours and grinding as worth it above all else. I know, I believed it for a while. It was before I got married, and I was in my twenties. I pulled 100 hours of work in a week, and I was proud of it at the time. Now? That's fucking insane. I was insane then. I know for a fact that I wasn't at my best for about 60 of those hours, and probably 100 of them. I was exhausted. So what does Moritz hold up as how we should be?
(In China) top managers show up for work at about 8am and frequently don’t leave until 10pm. Most of them will do this six days a week — and there are plenty of examples of people who do this for seven.
A minimum of 80 hours a week. With the only other time in your day spent sleeping.
Many of these high-flyers only see their children — who are often raised by a grandmother or nanny — for a few minutes a day.
As a new father, I can say that I am a much better worker when I get my hour with my son in the morning and hour at night before he goes to bed. Do I leave work before 5:30 every day? Pretty much. I get to read Goodnight Moon, Click Clack Moo, or whatever story Jack wants to read that night. And it is the best part of my day. Nothing is better than the family time Jack, his mom and I spend together. And because of that time I am able to work even more efficient during the work day.
Some of it is also due to the disregard paid to physical fitness — a pursuit that can chew up eight to 10 hours a week in Silicon Valley.
I am not a physically fit person. But I don't ignore my health like Moritz is saying. I should be doing more of this, but I still try to walk as much as I can, and it is a goal of mine to get on the Peloton bike more. But I do know a lack of physical fitness can make someone a worse worker. When I was in worse shape and heavier, I wasn't as good a worker as I am now. I was more tired, and I would need to take more breaks.
As the Chinese technology companies push ever harder outside the mainland, the habits of western companies will start to seem antique.
So in order to get ahead, the lead that Silicon Valley should follow is simple:
- Work over 80 hours a week.
- Ignore your health by eating prepared meals and not going to the gym
- Let someone else raise your kids
What's antique is not Silicon Valley's desire to break from the ethos perpetuated by Moritz and his ilk. But this ethos. His summation that "the habits of western companies will start to seem antique" is probably the exact opposite conclusion I came to when I read this.
To me it's simple, as China continues to grow as a society, they will see the need to push and work crazy hours to the detriment of your health and family life as "antique" just like many in the United States are starting to realize now.