Michael Gale

Fraud in Silicon Valley

Fortune Magazine just released the January 2017 edition with the article “The Ugly Unethical Underside of Silicon Valley”  which is one of the better pieces on the increasing problem of fraud in the venture backed pressure cooker of Silicon Valley startups. It posits that its almost impossible for entrepreneurs to raise money and forge success without making over inflated claims of success and customer traction and in fact just lying.

I have said for a long time that my experience in advising entrepreneurs has taught me that if when you first meet a young entrepreneur looking for help with VC funding if you told them the truth about the process and the time required none of them would work with you. In the end that’s why I don’t do it any more. It was impossible to work sensibly with venture capital seeking entrepreneurs because they did not want to hear about building real plans, getting traction and thinking about fundamentals. All the competing messages were that you just “fast launch” and make it up as you go along. Literally nobody wants to hear from old timers like me that you can’t just have an idea and some coders and go for it and then say whatever it takes to become a Unicorn. And THEY ARE RIGHT. I am completely wrong. The winners are the ones that make it up and drive a fashion wave through investors. Its crazy but the VC corner of Silicon Valley doesn’t really have a lot to do any more with actually making successful companies that create technology that adds value. Its like a vast game of musical chairs to pass the buck on the latest sexy company to the greater fools. Hence companies of no real substance become worth a billion dollars overnight and vaporize just as quickly.

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