Feature

The robber barons of Silicon Valley

Today’s tech entrepreneurs talk of lofty ideals, but they display a “ruthlessness rivaling history’s greatest industrial bullies.”

Rob Cox
TheDailyBeast.com

Silicon Valley billionaires “may anoint themselves the saints of American capitalism,” said Rob Cox. But to me they look more like old-time robber barons. Google, Facebook, Apple, and Zynga say they are less concerned with their bottom lines than they are with making the world a better place. But “underneath the haughty language of moral superiority,” these companies display a “ruthlessness rivaling history’s greatest industrial bullies.” Apple’s exploitative manufacturing in China has “plumped profit margins for shareholders,” and the company resisted scrutiny of its labor practices until negative publicity forced a change. Google is regularly accused of looking the other way on copyright rules for “words, music, and video,” and both Facebook and Google are seen as leading the erosion of consumer privacy. Even if 19th-century industrialists had decent intentions when they built railroads and drilled oil wells, “their empires still needed to be regulated, reined in, and in some cases broken up by vigilant watchdogs.” The same goes for today’s tech entrepreneurs. We can’t let lofty ideals and promises be a “cover for motives that clash with the broader interests of consumers and society.”

Recommended

A surge in violence in Pakistan
The rubble of a Peshawar mosque damaged in a suicide bombing.
Feature

A surge in violence in Pakistan

The Adani Group scandal, explained
Gautam Adani.
Briefing

The Adani Group scandal, explained

China says it successfully cloned 3 'super cows'
5 cows lined up at feeding trough.
carbon copy

China says it successfully cloned 3 'super cows'

Japanese restaurants fight back against viral 'sushi terrorism' trend
Photo of Kura Sushi, a Japanese conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain
save the sushi

Japanese restaurants fight back against viral 'sushi terrorism' trend

Most Popular

The Hogwarts Legacy boycott controversy, explained
Hogwarts Legacy logo photo
Briefing

The Hogwarts Legacy boycott controversy, explained

Republicans oust Ilhan Omar from House committee
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn)
Punitive politics?

Republicans oust Ilhan Omar from House committee

U.S. firm offers Ukraine 2 Reaper drones for $1, plus $10 million in shipping
MQ-9 Reaper drone
Fine Print

U.S. firm offers Ukraine 2 Reaper drones for $1, plus $10 million in shipping