30 June 2014

Carlos Bueno: “Inside the Mirrortocracy”

I want to stress the importance of being young and technical.
Young people are just smarter. Mark Zuckerberg

I was in the audience when a 22-year-old Zuck led with that drop of wisdom during his first Startup School talk. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue, it was the thesis of his entire 30 minutes on stage. It would have been forgettable startup blah-blah except that his talk followed Mitch Kapor’s. The contrast could not have been more raw.

Ironically, Zuck had arrived late and didn’t hear Kapor speak. He’s since evolved his views, thanks to Sheryl Sandberg’s influence and (ahem) getting older himself.

Kapor is the legendary founder of Lotus, which more or less kicked off the personal computer revolution by making desktop computers relevant to business. He spoke about the dangers of what he called the “mirror-tocracy”: confirmation bias, insularity, and cliquish modes of thinking. He described the work of his institute to combat bias, countering the anecdotes and fantasies that pass for truth with actual research about diversity in the workplace.

Carlos Bueno

Fascinating article about the hiring process in Silicon Valley corporations and the numerous unwritten rules that can dismiss a candidate before he even had a chance to speak. If it sounds hard to believe, look at the recent disclosures about workforce diversity – or lack thereof – from Google, Facebook and Yahoo: their personnel structures are remarkably similar, even though the companies are quite different in age and development. It’s too bad they didn’t release any data about the age distribution of their employees, that would make for another interesting comparison.

  • Workforce diversity 2014 graph by sex
  • Workforce diversity 2014 graph by ethnicity

Update: more data about workforce diversity from Twitter and Pinterest.

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