Exclusive: Tiger Global, Alkeon Slash Startup Valuations Amid Public Stock Selloff Read Now

Union workers protesting at Twitter in San Francisco. Photo by Bloomberg.
Essay
Google Apple Uber/Lyft

Tech Workers of the World, Unite?

By  |  Aug. 27, 2014 8:04 AM PDT
Photo: Union workers protesting at Twitter in San Francisco. Photo by Bloomberg.

The Silicon Valley technology worker doesn’t quite fit the profile of the exploited proletarian: The average high-tech salary in San Francisco is $156,518, according to one estimate. Compared with a fast-food worker, let alone a child laborer in Asia, the high-tech coder-laborer class—typified by the well-educated, male software engineer—has no reason to complain.

Perhaps that explains why so little time is spent exploring tensions between workers and capital in the technology industry. Neither of these camps are, in the global scheme of things, particularly aggrieved. And the Valley’s free-market ethos, one that celebrates individual responsibility far more than collective action, helps keep any tensions in the shadows.

Outsiders don’t even recognize much of a difference between owners and workers. Tech industry protesters in San Francisco, angry about gentrification, spend most of their time rallying outside Google buses, not venture capital firms, and don’t see much daylight between tech’s bourgeoisie and its proletariat. And for most of the world, glossing over this particular class fission is perfectly fine. (Tensions between venture-backed companies like Uber and the blue-collar workers whose full-time jobs they’re upending are a different matter and are likely to play out in dramatic ways over time.)

But I think technology startup employees should eye their bosses—venture capitalists and founders—a lot more warily. And that’s even more true at established tech firms. Companies are undercutting employees at every opportunity, whether it means colluding to underpay software engineers, outsourcing jobs around the world, underpaying foreign workers on H1B visas, playing hardball in equity negotiations or lobbying governments at the local, state and federal level for laws that are friendly to tech companies.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Briefing Apple Entertainment
Apple’s Mac Renaissance
Apple's new Mac laptop. Photo by Bloomberg.
For a company as routinely successful as Apple, continued success can get repetitive. Tonight’s earnings call, for instance, was so full of the usual hyperbole about record revenues that Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri repeated a segment of his commentary without missing a beat. But within the eye-glazing recitations of Apple’s various records—and, for the TV service, its award nominations...
Latest Briefs
 
SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure To Leave Firm
Robinhood Stock Sinks as it Forecasts Steep Drop in Revenue
Credo Technology Climbs 17% In Public Debut
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Photo by AP.
Exclusive
Tiger Global, Alkeon Slash Startup Valuations Amid Public Stock Selloff
For more than a year, startup founders have watched in awe and some trepidation as hedge funds and other large investors flooded private startups with big checks, pushing up valuations and making it easier than ever to raise money.
Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman (left) and Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi. Photos by Snowflake, Bloomberg. Collage by Mike Sullivan
Exclusive Cloud
Snowflake vs. Databricks: How Onetime Friends Became Fierce Cloud Rivals
A few years ago, Snowflake and Databricks were up-and-coming cloud software startups that were so friendly, their sales teams regularly passed customer leads to each other.
Art by Haejin Park. Photo courtesy Caroline Spiegel.
The Big Read Startups Culture
Caroline Spiegel’s Porn Revolution
Birds chirp and wind rustles through leaves—the sounds of early fall. “Man, it’s beautiful out here,” remarks a deep, crackly male voice.
Pinterest headquarters office in San Francisco. Photo by Bloomberg
Exclusive Entertainment E-commerce
Pinterest Has Lost at Least 7 Senior Execs in Recent Weeks
Pinterest has lost at least seven senior executives in roles ranging from creator marketing to corporate development in recent weeks as the online scrapbooking app grapples with a drop in U.S.
Susanne Daniels. Photo by Bloomberg. Art by Mike Sullivan
Opinion Media/Telecom Entertainment
Why YouTube Sees Hollywood’s Future in the Creator Economy
Tuesday’s letter from YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl to its 2 million–strong creator community—announcing that original content chief Susanne Daniels had resigned—read like the final salvo in YouTube’s recent PR campaign touting its creator economy successes .
Art by Mike Sullivan
Exclusive Venture Capital Startups
Tech’s Great Headhunter Shortage: Employers Shower Recruiters With Better Pay, Benefits
In the middle of 2020, not long after the Covid-19 pandemic began sparking layoffs across the country, Joe Price watched as eight members of the recruiting department at an automotive software company he worked for lost their jobs.