Unicorn Culture

unicorn

debate

Silicone Valley has a term for companies that grow exponentially quickly, unicorns. For obvious reasons these are some of the most admired startups. Checkout the Techcrunch list. It seems to me that these companies are worshiped. This bothers me. For one thing they set false expectations on what a company is and what to expect.  If you read entrepreneurial websites you will see a few main themes that run through them. First is that traction is hard to get and takes time to learn. It involves constant work and the creation of a lot of content/product that doesn’t work before you get results.  The vast majority of businesses take a long time to find their fit in the market. But really all this is about service. It is about creating a product that people find useful and services a community. These are deeper and timeless values. Unicorns on the other hand are admired for their seeming instant gratification and fast growth.  They are every wantrepreneur’s dream. Put a product out and it takes off to the moon.

This unicorn mindset is symptomatic of larger issues in American culture. We as a country are in deep denial. We stand on the edge of economic collapse and possibly another world war.  If you look at the Cape-Schiller index we are in the second largest S&P500 P/E ratio in history.

cape

The debt to GDP ratio is the highest it has been in recent history.

fredgraph(1)

The stock market bubble and the debt go hand in hand, because of the debt it will limit the Fed’s and the government’s financial maneuvering when the stock market bubble pops. Furthermore the market seems to not care about the possibilities of war. This denial is deep and it is because of this unicorn mindset.

Everything right now is magical and about growth. There is no room for other narratives. Doesn’t matter what is going on in the world. This unicorn mindset limits our ability to conceive of solutions that involve conserving and preparing. It keeps us from budgeting and sacrificing. Those values are anti-growth. Hopefully we will rediscover them before it is too late.

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