Is the tech industry getting too big for it’s boots? I’ve always been proud of the fact that I was part of an industry that was, on the whole, a force for good in society and whose members were pretty good corporate citizens. Most of the techies I know are pretty down to earth and the dominant worldview seems to be a neat blend of anti-estblishment, pro-education with a vaguely hippy twist.
It is possible, however, that my views are out of date. You can’t avoid the fact that there’s been a stream of news from the Google, Apple, Amazon mega-plexes, that border on the arrogant and anti civil society. Since when did we feel the need to hire an army of lobbyists to avoid paying sales tax? Since when did we feel the need to hire an army of lawyers and accountants to set up complex structures to avoid paying corporation tax? And since when did we feel it our place to lecture elected Government officials on what taxes we were prepared to pay or what immigration policy should look like?
In February 2000, I gave a speech at the Reform Club outlining how I though the industry had lost it’s way because stock option plans had become more important than great engineering. A month latter, we got our come-uppance. I can’t help but feel that 13 years later, we have again forgotten what the industry is all about: great ideas, skilful engineering and a commitment to product excellence.