Silicon Valley snarky blogs make comeback

SARAH MCBRIDE
Last updated 12:00 08/05/2013
Sergey Brin
Getty Images

SERGEY BRIN: White man, wearing Google Glass.

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Silicon Valley is taking itself a tad too seriously, and a few of its shriller residents have taken note.

Recent weeks have seen the birth of a few new blogs poking fun at America's crucible of technology, among them whitemenwearinggoogleglass.tumblr.com, a relaunched version of the classic Valleywag.com, and, perhaps most discussed, jesuschristsiliconvalley.tumblr.com.

Call it the zeitgeist. To a certain class of steely-eyed observers, Silicon Valley's overvalued startups, its kingmakers, and those who get caught up in its hyped products need taking down a peg.

A sampling: "I love Quora. Like I love Prince Harry: for his sad, never-be-king desperation," wrote the anonymous scribe behind Jesus Christ Silicon Valley in musings about a question-and-answer service little used outside Silicon Valley that has nevertheless raised US$50 million.

A spokeswoman for Quora declined to comment on the blog or whether company founders had read it.

At the reborn Valleywag, editor Sam Biddle took aim at Larry Ellison and the movie The Wind Gods, which documents the Oracle chief executive's sailing exploits in the America's Cup.

"There's been something missing in his aggrandising oeuvre," Biddle wrote. "Maybe an invite from Larry Ellison to the premiere of a movie about Larry Ellison."

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment.

Valleywag, a widely read blog owned by Gawker Media that shut in 2008 due to low advertising, relaunched in April.

White Men Wearing Google Glass is the simplest site, little more than a growing gallery of photographs of men sporting the new wearable Google computer. Individually, the photos might not catch the eye, but collectively they manage to look ridiculous. "In its favour, if Google Glass didn't exist, all these Silicon Valley guys would be having affairs or buying unsuitable motorbikes," reads the site's sparse copy.

Trenchant commentary once filled blogs about Silicon Valley, but many died out in the mid 2000s. Think F*ckedcompany or Uncov, blogs about troubled companies of the dotcom era and beyond that died in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Perhaps the best known: the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, a blog written anonymously by a writer using the pen name Fake Steve Jobs. It took almost a year before his identity as then-Forbes writer Dan Lyons was uncovered in 2007.

Over the past five years or so, the digerati have gone relatively easy on Silicon Valley. Those who have poked fun at the Valley range from AllThingsD's Kara Swisher to commentators with Twitter handles like crazydrunkvc and Vinod Coleslaw - a parody of the well-known venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. But they are mild compared to the musings of today's new crop, who seem to find inspiration in the booming start-up economy.

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"We over-celebrate our accomplishments out here, and we over-tear people down," said Kenny Van Zant, the business development head at Asana, a business software company founded by two Facebook alumni who said he had glanced at some of the new blogs.

Some think the new crop is pushing it too hard.

"When you see it from the inside it makes you want to make fun of it a little less," says Philip Kaplan, the founder of f*ckedcompany. A New Yorker when he wrote it, he has since moved to Silicon Valley and founded several startups.

But being mean apparently pays when it comes to amassing readers. "What you have to do is find a sacred cow and line up the spears," says Uncov founder Ted Dziuba. "What you have to do is be totally vicious."

That, many readers say, defines Jesus Christ Silicon Valley, which started to get noticed with a withering critique of Dave Morin, the founder of social network Path.

A spokeswoman for Path declined to comment on the blog, whose writer Tweets under the handle Jesus94306, the zip code for part of Palo Alto, home to many tech insider.

Some may call the writer a coward for not putting a real name behind the posts.

But sound career-related thinking could be behind the secrecy. Just consider the case of the writer behind the Bitter Barista blog, a snarky look at customers of a Seattle coffee shop in Seattle. As soon as his identity came out in February, the barista got fired.

- Reuters

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