Titans of greed: Big Tech has sold its soul, says oracle of Silicon Valley
Google, Facebook and Amazon have lost their revolutionary mindset to corporate profit, says Tim O’Reilly
It’s a bold tip about a company whose share price has increased by 1,740% in 16 years, but Tim O’Reilly, he suddenly proclaims halfway through our interview, is “short on Google”.
He’s talking figuratively. “I’m no stockpicker.” But still, for a man who has been called the “Oracle of Silicon Valley”, this is verging on treason. In fact, after a recent slew of staggering stock market listings for tech companies - such as cloud provider Snowflake (up by 80% on day one), video game enabler Unity (up 30%), and this week data cruncher Palantir (up 50% on debut) - it seems crazy. But it should come as no surprise.
O’Reilly, 66, who was born in Ireland but emigrated to San Francisco as a baby, has a wandering, counterintuitive mind. The efficiencies of mass electrification, the algorithmic quality of public policy, why Malthus was misunderstood: ideas stream forth, engagingly, the connection between them stretching thin, before elastically recovering their coherence. Chief among his preoccupations is identifying tech companies that he thinks have gone off the rails, and analysing why. It turns out the stock market is the major culprit...