I’d never heard of Silicon Valley Bank before it exploded in a shower of pretty sparks last week. Amazingly, upon just hearing the name my brain made a bunch of associations that proved to be mostly correct ‒ it WAS indeed a nasty cross-section of Wall Street and Sand Hill Road, thoroughly infested with both their money and their questionable politics. The whole fracas is obviously going to shake out badly for me and my programmer brethren in the trenches, these things always do, but that’s for my dreary future: now is a time for drinking, giggling, and gloating.
A Bailout of Libertarians
I think the most satisfying part was watching the unseemly public meltdowns of people considered Very Intelligent Venture Luminaries when they realized they might have to take a haircut of 10%. The money is mostly there, it’ll be recovered, but they may have to eat a little loss? Suddenly these ruggedly intrepid risk-takers and seasteaders were on the barricades pleading ‒ nay, demanding ‒ that someone, somewhere, best make them whole OR ELSE. Think of the economy! Think of the services we provide to you unwashed and ungrateful peasants! We’re out here disrupting industries and making delivery drivers pee in bottles and what do we get for it, naught but scorn!
Remember, these people have been the biggest hairiest proponents of Ayn Rand’s various lunacies for the longest time. Watching them accidentally work themselves into a bank run and then flail around sobbing about how this was all an unpreventable accident and they need a taxpayer bailout… it really was a delicious tantrum, and I’ve relished every second of it. I intend to keep doing so until the inevitable hangover sets in.
Yeah, haven’t we been here before?
It’s easy to forget in these days of VS Code and TypeScript, but Microsoft in the 90s was, and let’s not mince words, bullshit. It was a power-drunk monopolist with its heel on the throat of the Internet industry. It would mercilessly stomp out its competition using tools directly borrowed from the robber barons: buyouts, tying, predatory pricing, you name it. Everyone hated Microsoft, but Gates seemed untouchable. Until one day, he suddenly wasn’t: the Internet was practically aflame the day the landmark antitrust ruling was handed down. Microsoft came within an inch of being broken up and I was on Slashdot at the time, chortling along with everyone else. Rejoice! Maybe we could finally bury “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” in the history books and close them, and whatever sprang from the corrosive blood of this wounded 362.9kg gorilla would surely be better?
Well, less than a year later, everything lay in ruins.
Microsoft’s stock had nose-dived on the news, and since the year had already been wobbly with bad news all around, NASDAQ just kinda kept tumbling. And tumbling. Spring turned to summer. Everything was bad, and then it got worse, and then a plane hit the World Trade Center and the economy made a great big farting noise as all the air escaped.
But history doesn’t, like, repeat itself?? Does it?
Well, history isn’t a perfect circle but things aren’t looking great. Mass firings abound. Inflation is rampant. Electricity is approaching “printer ink” levels of price gouging. Russia is still on a rape and murder spree just to the east of us. The signs are all there. I don’t think saving some venture capitalist’s 10% profit for the year is going to stanch the bleeding, either ‒ this bank collapse happened, they brought it on themselves, and the markets are going to react to that fact whether or not the US government steps in. The economist class is feverishly consulting their gizzards and tea leaves as we speak, trying to ascertain which ancient rituals to invoke to MAKE LINE GO UP but my analysis is as good as theirs and I think we’re in for an extended period of bad juju. So get your laughs in while you can! Drink and be merry! Point your finger at the Very Serious Businesspeople who keep exhorting you to work hard play hard hockey-stick hustle grind or you will be replaced by a chatbot. At this point in time the curtain has fallen and it turns out they suck just as much as you do, they just have better PR. The emperor is butt naked and we’re all slowly decaying, let’s have some fun while we’re at it.