Silicon Valley gets a bad case of startup-itis; the doctor is in

Summary:Before commenting on Michael Arrington's yearning for a simpler Silicon Valley life, I'd like to disclose the following:I don't live in Silicon Valley;I always thought you West coasters were a bit off--now I know why (self loathing);A CEO has never cried to me; And everyone whining about a little success should go outside and chill for a few hours--without Twittering, texting, blogging or even talking. OK now that disclosure is out of the way back to your regularly scheduled post.

Before commenting on Michael Arrington's yearning for a simpler Silicon Valley life, I'd like to disclose the following:

  • I don't live in Silicon Valley;
  • I always thought you West coasters were a bit off--now I know why (self loathing);
  • A CEO has never cried to me;
  • And everyone whining about a little success should go outside and chill for a few hours--without Twittering, texting, blogging or even talking.

OK now that disclosure is out of the way back to your regularly scheduled post.

Arrington laments that Silicon Valley isn't fun anymore. Robert Scoble notes that the stakes are higher and he's feeling pressure. Now some of these Silicon Valley self loathing issues are the result the fact funding is running amok. Meanwhile, everyone is scarred from the dot-com boom and thinking a disaster is around the corner. It isn't. Geesh, you can't short a pure Web 2.0 play because there aren't any public. That's not a bubble.

But a lot of this angst seems to be about how bloggers are increasingly pestered as much as journalists. Kara Swisher's advice was to just say no to PR people, startups etc. That's fine advice, but here are techniques that repel startups--and other bogus pitches--time after time.

1. The customer card. Startup CEO approaches you and gives you elevator pitch. You say: I'd rather talk to your customers first. Got any? Repels stupidity 80 percent of the time.

2. Don't answer the phone. I have three voicemails right now from some flack trying to pitch me something. I'll check them tomorrow--maybe never.

3. Don't answer email. I have even more messages in my inbox. What'll get read? Maybe 1 percent.

4. Realize no one gives a crap about these dinky startups anyway. There's a reason bloggers are popular--they haven't learned the art of saying no yet. 

5. Pick your networking events carefully. If there's no story there it's just free beer.

6. Do your homework. Find things that interest you. The PR barrage shouldn't be occurring if a) you're out doing homework and can't be reached and b) you already know what you're looking for.

7. Filter. Most Silicon Valley types have been around the block a few times and know a me-too company when they see it. Edit these people out immediately--be upfront about it too.

If you follow those 7 steps and take a few aspirin Silicon Valley will look better in the morning.

Topics: Start-Ups, Enterprise 2.0

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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