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peter thiel on the first silicon valley gold rush

From Zero to One, by Peter Thiel, loc 155-171:

Dot- com mania was intense but short— 18 months of insanity from September 1998 to March 2000. It was a Silicon Valley gold rush: there was money everywhere, and no shortage of exuberant, often sketchy people to chase it. Every week, dozens of new startups competed to throw the most lavish launch party. (Landing parties were much more rare.) Paper millionaires would rack up thousand- dollar dinner bills and try to pay with shares of their startup’s stock— sometimes it even worked. Legions of people decamped from their well- paying jobs to found or join startups. One 40- something grad student that I knew was running six different companies in 1999. (Usually, it’s considered weird to be a 40- year- old graduate student. Usually, it’s considered insane to start a half- dozen companies at once. But in the late ’90s, people could believe that was a winning combination.) Everybody should have known that the mania was unsustainable; the most “successful” companies seemed to embrace a sort of anti- business model where they lost money as they grew. But it’s hard to blame people for dancing when the music was playing; irrationality was rational given that appending “.com” to your name could double your value overnight.

Categories: Corporate Culture, Elites and Their Self-Understandings The Political Economy of Digital Capitalism

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