In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about the growing tech divide in Silicon Valley and the negative treatment of those in technology towards those who are not. Steli and Hiten are worried and saddened by the aggression shown by tech people towards those in the service industry. Listen as Steli and Hiten share their concerns with those who engage in such negative attitudes and behaviors and how being aware of one’s self and one’s privilege can turn these attitudes around.  

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:08 – Today’s episode is about the growing tech divide in Silicon Valley
  • 00:43 – When it comes to technology, Steli has been an optimist, but has observed the differences between people who are in technology and those who are not
  • 01:21 – Steli has seen people get aggressive with their Uber drivers
  • 02:23 – Steli has also seen people treat Door Dash delivery people poorly
  • 03:10 – Steli is worried and concerned about how people treat those who provide services to them
  • 04:12 – Hiten is saddened by this because he believes nobody has the right to talk down to another human being
  • 05:03 – Hiten says people should be thankful for the services they receive, because receiving a service means they don’t have to do it themselves
  • 05:27 – Steli shares Louis C.K.’s storyline of how people always complain  
  • 06:23 – Those who are not successful are often judged and blamed by others
  • 07:04 – Those who blame these people live in their own world and become less human
  • 07:24 – Hiten believes people should take responsibility for their rotten thoughts and evaluate how these thoughts impact their lives
  • 08:06 – A lot of people in tech today do not appreciate the privileges they have
  • 09:14 – Hiten says he thinks things will get worse, before it gets better
  • 09:26 – The aggressiveness towards others is socially accepted because it has become the norm – from the leadership of our country to the leadership of companies
  • 10:05 – Think of how bad you feel when someone is aggressive towards you
  • 10:34 – Remember when you made a mistake at work and somebody thought you were the biggest idiot?
  • 10:46 – We need to remind ourselves of how much we have, how lucky we are, and how being kind can make all the difference
  • 11:08 – This topic should be talked about more in the tech industry
  • 11:27 – End of today’s episode

3 Key Points:

  1. People working in technology tend to treat others who are providing them services poorly.
  2. Those who judge other people for being less successful than they are do not realize their own privilege.
  3. Always remind yourself of how much you have and don’t overestimate the power of just being kind.

Steli: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten: This is Hiten Shah. Today on the Start Up Chat, we’re going to take on the topic that I think Steliand I both notice things about. What it is, is basically this growing tech divide in the bay area and Silicon Valley and even other cities that have a lot of tech and also a lot of non-tech people doing things in the city regularly. Steli, you want to kick it off with a story or two?


Steli: Yeah. In general, I think I’ve been always … I’m an optimist when it comes to technology and the direction that the world is going into, but over the last ten years I’ve noticed a trend. I stumble over a lot more examples recently. I’m starting to think about this a lot more and slightly worry about it a little bit. I experience an erosion of empathy when it comes to people that are in the technology field and are doing really well in their life and the people that are servicing those people that aren’t. I’ll give an example. One thing that I see again and again is, people getting really, really mad/aggressive/ I don’t want to use the word inhumane, but I don’t know, just mean with their Uber drivers for instance. I’ll see somebody sees that the Uber is five minutes away and then the Uber driver is taking the wrong turn, now the display doesn’t show five minutes it updates and shows seven. People lose their minds. People get so angry and so upset. When the Uber drives up and they walk into their car, they’re like pissed at that person. That’s one example, people getting really upset over … Sometimes an Uber driver calls you and they want to know where you go because they want to know whether it’s worth it or not. I get it. I’m not excited about that from a service point of view, but people get really upset. I heard people go, “No, I’m not telling you where I’m going. This is Uber. It’s your job to come and pick me up. I’m not here to talk to you on the phone.” Just super mad and aggressive. I see the same thing with Door Dash Drive. I had a founder the other day who was giving me this story about how stupid this Door Dash Delivery person was. That they couldn’t read the instructions on what to type into the code to get in the building and what floor the house was in, and that the instruction was, “Leave the food in front of the door.” The person said something along the lines of like … “You know. These people are in their thirties and can’t even fucking deliver a sandwich. Of course these people are going to struggle in the future and rightfully so. They deserve to struggle. You can’t be thirty and not even fucking be able to deliver me a sandwich and then have us worry about you.” I started seeing that type of reaction more and more and it worries me. There’s this underlying thing, I think, that is like, “These people are even too stupid to do these simple things so, maybe they deserve that they have it more and more difficult in their future.” I don’t know. It freaks me out. Maybe it’s also the political climate. We do see an erosion of the middle class, potentially. We do see that, I don’t know, there’s all these discussions with AI taking over the world. The jobs and all that. You worry about these people that are drivers and these people that do jobs we’re not sure that these jobs are going to be existing in 20, 30 years. Even more so, I worry about the people that built the technology to take away these jobs, look at these people and think, “These people are stupid and they deserve to struggle because they are obviously so stupid.” Have you seen this? Am I crazy? What’s your take on this?


Hiten: It just makes me sad.


Steli: Yeah. It actually worries the fuck out of me. It makes me really worried.


Hiten: Yeah. It makes me really sad because nobody has a right to talk down to anybody else. That’s just a belief I had. It’s something I grew up with. Even if somebody’s mean to a barista or a waiter or a waitress or anything like that. I just get irritated. I probably do the wrong thing and I judge the person that’s getting mad or getting upset. It’s like, “Hey calm down.” The thing is, I don’t do Uber a lot when I’m in San Francisco. I like to drive, so I drive probably 100% of the time, actually. I do Door Dash quite a bit. I’m chill. I don’t care. If they screw up, they screw up. I’m just thankful that I don’t have to get out of what I’m doing. I can save myself time and if it takes an extra five minutes, ten minutes, they mess up my order … This is the advice I’d give, I just try to remember that I don’t have to go do this for myself. That’s amazing. That’s the gift in itself. Who cares about the little intricacies of it or the issues with it? I don’t have to do it. Yes I’m paying for it and all that, but at the end of the day, some other human is doing something for me. That’s not even how it should be if you think about it. Right? We used to have to do everything for ourselves. Somebody else is actually doing it.


Steli: Yeah. I mean, to a certain degree, the Louis CK storyline of, everything is amazing and we’re all miserable. Right? We’re in the WIFI on the airplane is not perfect and people lose their minds. It’s like, “Wait a second. You’re sitting in a chair in the fucking sky …”


Hiten: Read a book. Close your eyes. Go to sleep. I don’t know. Meditate. Yeah.


Steli: Even just as we’re talking I’m thinking about the recent example of … I don’t know if you saw that video where an Uber CO is arguing with a driver and telling him to take responsibility for his own life or something?


Hiten: Yeah.


Steli: I feel like a lot of people … For many years as I was growing up, I was in this bubble a little bit that I was, “Well I come from nothing. I don’t have a great education. I had no money. I had all these issues and problems growing up and I’m making something of myself. So everybody needs to be able to accomplish the same thing and everyone who is not is completely responsible for it on their own.” This very black and white. You’re either successful or not and if you’re not you’re 100% to blame and you deserve no empathy. You deserve no support. You deserve no help. You just deserve judgment, being judged upon. Thank god when I was 19 and I grew out of that. I feel like I see this more and more. Especially in the tech world, where people are like, “Well everybody could make it today, so if somebody is struggling or somebody’s not performing at their best, it’s 100% them to blame and if they struggle in the future world that we’re building then so be it. They’re responsible for it completely on their own and they don’t deserve any better.” To me, the core of the issue is that you’re so far removed from the real world. You live in such a crazy bubble that you become less and less human and therefore, you are pushing the world in a direction that’s actually bad for everybody.


Hiten: I think people just need to take responsibility for their thoughts. Think about how rotten those thoughts are and how they impact you and your daily life. Right? It’s going to impact your relationship if you think those kind of thoughts about other people. Regardless of what happened or what the situation is. I think people forget that. If you want to be a person who’s not nice to be around you should keep doing that to your Door Dash delivery people and your Uber drivers and complain. Then, just don’t be pissed when you make a mistake and someone really yells at you about work. You know? It is karmic if you want to go there, but it’s also like, can we just be decent human beings here? I think part of the problem is, a lot of people that are in tech today, probably don’t appreciate the privilege that they have. Right?


Steli: Yeah.


Hiten: That boils down to, many of them are younger. This is the first job out of college and they happen to be making, if they’re engineers, probably close to six figures or more a year. They have this view of the world that’s using a big word, so to speak, myopic, and very contraint on just what they do every day and the fact that they get a free lunch and a free dinner, but just to throw some hate around. They probably don’t realize how much their life is jail, and how they have to show up at work and they have to do these meetings and do these things every freaking day. How they have very lack of freedom. Again, I could go talk shit on them about that because I’m a founder right? I get freedom right? Yeah, I got to do all these things, but no one tells me what to do and where to go. They have a manager. Someone’s telling them what to do and where to go. Anyways, I’m just going there just because … It’s just silly even saying that. It’s like, “Dude, we’re all human.” To me, it’s like I feel like things will start changing over time and they’re probably going to get worse before they get better. Especially because if you just notice the world today, a lot of this language, a lot of this aggressiveness towards other humans is accepted. It’s a shame, but it’s true. That starts with the leadership in this country. That starts with the leadership at some of these companies. I think we’re going to hear and see more of it Steli. My reason for really wanting to talk about this is, just the message. Just think a little bit before you start judging other people. That’s really what it boils down to. If you don’t, then it’s going to come back to you. If you don’t remember anything else and you decide to keep being aggressive with these other humans that are just trying to help you, literally, help you, think of me the next time and Stelithe next time that you get yelled at at work or do something wrong and how bad you feel about it and how you hate it when someone jumps on you about it or starts being aggressive with you. It’s likely you probably caused it by being, for lack of a better word, such an asshole to somebody else.


Steli: Yeah. I love that. Next time that you get mad at your Uber driver or Door Dash driver for being too late or not knowing how to type in the code, remember was the last time you missed a milestone or a deadline or you had a typo in a presentation and somebody thought you’re the biggest idiot. Or somebody was screaming, yelling at you. Nobody’s better than other people. I think we all need to remind ourselves A) how much we have, how lucky we are, and how big of a difference the kindness of other people has made in our life and extending that kindness to others. How important that is. Let’s just end this on this positive note. This is something … If people have thoughts about this or experiences, this is a topic that’s been keeping me busy. I do feel the desire to talk more about it and advocate more for it. Just make sure that there’s more discussion the tech community about this topic, I think is really important.


Hiten: Yeah. Let’s just set a good example. What else can we do?


Steli: All right guys. I think that’s it from us for this episode.


Hiten: Bye.


Steli: Bye, bye.