The Tightening Belt

The popping of the tech bubble is a good thing, actually

Maybe it's not such a bad thing that the hayday of tech is coming to a quick and grinding end.

I'm not saying that tens of thousands of people being laid off is a "blessing in surprise" and I won't say that the end of the tech hayday is going to be particularly good in the short term for the average Joe.

What I am saying is that the tech bubble needed popping, and after the dust settles we can build a better industry from the wreckage.

Tech is unsustainable

We've all seen the stories. Companies whose product is either non-existent or absolutely ridiculous climbing to nine- and ten-figure valuations. Founders raking in millions on a product that frankly sucks. You can see it at the unicorn level and at the smaller solopreneur level: companies and individuals were raking in absolute piles of money from nonsense products.

You had a couple of big crashes. WeWork, Juicero, Kitty Hawk and countless other ridiculous ventures that raked in hundreds of millions of dollars went poof almost overnight. That said, there was and is still a lot of bloat.

I'm not bitter about not being a bajillion dollar startup founder in this era. I'm irritated because the money being tossed into silly novelties that were never going to be sustainable could have been invested in better, more innovative and more impactful ideas. For every billion dollar funding round, there are a couple thousand startups that are looked over for funding, many of which could have far more impact than the Uber for muskrat delivery or whatever. The $44B Elon spent on buying Twitter for what was essentially egotistic novelty could have gone a long way promoting... literally any other cause.

The way cash has flowed in tech has to change. We're propping up novelty shiny objects with an obscene amount of cash while actual innovation is seemingly stagnating. There are billions of dollars flowing into what are essentially dopamine addiction ad platforms and gambling sites (social media and high-risk stock and crypto trading platforms) when we're facing a climate crisis, a banking crisis, the rise of authoritarianism worldwide, logistical crises and much more.

We're also just not solving interesting problems with these novelty projects. Sure there is some marginal value to Another Platform to Post Nonsense for Likes, but what about solving supply chain issues? Sure, another novelty coin is... a funny meme? but what about decreasing the rising cost of education? This isn't to say that people aren't focusing on those issues, just that we're throwing gobs of money at silly problems to solve them badly, and a lot of the more important problems of our age are sitting in relative obscurity.

A belt tightening and bubble popping is good

Cash drying up might be a good thing. VC's might finally be incentivized, or incentivized more, to invest in impactful, sustainable businesses. We might see some novelty startups get ignored when they should be. Maybe we will see less Snake Oil and more innovation.

Will it be hard in the beginning? Sure. But I think this is the direction we need to go to create a better tech industry.