I'm back from a mini-sabbatical in San Diego.
I like to get away a few times a year to clear my head and boy did it need clearing.
I spent a lot of time walking on the beach and just chilling out.
If you know me, you know I'm always studying success and leadership.
I started watching The Dropout and Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.
I don't recommend watching them at the same time!
The Dropout is the story about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos.
Super Pumped is the story of Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber.
What an a-hole!
After working in Silicon Valley for 20 years and watching these shows made me think.
Do companies have to be evil to be successful?
When I worked in Silicon Valley it didn't seem like an evil place.
I worked there in the 80s and 90s and it was a blast.
Our biggest perks were an espresso machine in the office, lots of free food, and Friday beer blasts.
Yes, I was in my 20s and working at the bottom of the food chain so I wasn't privy to what was going on in the executive floor.
Today, when you mention evil and Silicon Valley in the same sentence, Zuck, and Facebook come to mind.
Is Facebook evil?
They collected massive amounts of our personal information and used it to manipulate our buying behavior then sold it to other marketing firms.
Look up Cambridge Analytica if you don't believe me.
When I think of successful Silicon Valley companies like Microsoft, Google, and Uber, did they do evil things to crush their competitors, or were they perceived as being evil because they were too successful?
I don't consider Theranos in the same category because their entire business was built on lies and a non-existent product.
At least the other companies had working products and services.
Somehow Elizabeth Holmes convinced venture capitalists to invest hundreds of millions of dollars for more than 15 years.
They never produced a working blood testing machine but attracted millions of dollars and a celebrity board of directors including Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.
They were evil in a different way than Microsoft, Google, Uber, and others.
It seems like many of today's most successful companies have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, some more than once.
Could these companies have succeeded without doing evil things that crushed their competitors?