Silicon Valley Wants Its Privacy Back

The Atlantic

Silicon Valley blogger Sarah Lacy thinks the reincarnation of the Gawker gossip blog Valleywag shouldn't cover gossip because people in the tech start-up world like to keep their boring lives private, a hilarious statement since Silicon Valley has industrialized the public flaunting of people's boring private lives. Writing for Pando Daily, Lacy suggests version 2.0 of the site cover "what's going on in board rooms" instead of the usual gossip fare because the people of Silicon Valley, who are at this very moment getting rich off of our public photos posts, likes, and status updates, deserve their privacy:

The problem with Valleywag ultimately was two-fold. It focused on people’s private lives in the Valley, which people here generally try to respect. It’s simply not the same culture as the New York or LA media scene where outing everyone’s personal affairs is de rigeur

Much of what was posted on Valleywag after it launched in 2006 was simply sifting the social networks Silicon Valley was posting it. One of Valleywag's biggest hits came in 2007 with the story of a bank intern who skipped work but was busted after his boss found a photo of him dressed as a fairy at a Halloween party. The tale, published under the slug "Your Privacy Is an Illusion," resonated because we were all just learning to negotiate the new boundaries between public and private that Silicon Valley's new wonders were redefining. Many a Valleywag post initiated from a series of Facebook photos or series of Tweets and the public characters, like Lacy, they were creating. One post about Lacy, who had her own tag on the site, originated from a tweet about a flower delivery gone wrong at her then employer Yahoo. The biggest innovation to come out of tech bubble 2.0 is a website that makes the world "more open and connected." Silicon Valley is not a place that values privacy, at least not other people's privacy. 

RELATED: Silicon Valley VC Firm Fires the Woman Suing Them for Sexual Discrimination

But of course, like any high profile figures, the tech elite want privacy on their own terms, so to further eschew the limelight, Lacy offers another (oft-repeated) reason for Valleywag to stay away: Silicon Valley is too "boring" for a gossip blog. Lacy isn't the first to purport this fallacy that tech start-ups differ from other elite cultures. The tech community has never liked to admit that it parties lavishly, or that it spends a lot of money on ridiculous things, or that it has a bro culture—all of which Valleywag would likely cover. These behaviors don't go with the tech ethos: Silicon Valley is changing the world (one photo sharing app at a time!), not just trying to get rich. While that might be true for the tech giant here and there, the parties, too, happen. And, luckily for Valleywag, a lot of that flaunting still happens on social media

RELATED: Small-Town Gossip Sites Are Horrifying

Underneath the ironies, Lacy's fear seems to stem from her appearances in Valleywag posts. Gawker Media's Nick Denton once wrote a post titled "Smoking Sarah Lacy" in which he points out "Lacy is smoking, so smoking that she'd even be considered smoking in one of those cities where models and actresses congregate." That's not a post many people would want related to a Google-search of their name. The blog may have been irrelevant to other people outside of Silicon Valley, as she suggests. "Whenever I was written about on Valleywag, I’d hear about it from friends in New York who read Gawker — never from people in the Valley actually doing stuff." But, that doesn't apply to her personally. She wrote a tribute detailing her "love-hate relationship with Valleywag, but mostly love." The blog was more than on her radar. More likely, Valleywag style posts scare Lacy because it means the return of her public condemnation, as Gawker owner Nick Denton foreshadowed in this biting Tweet:

Oh @sarahcuda, you matter. As scraping courtier to the tech princes, flatterer-in-chief at Pander Daily, you are a gift of a subject.

— Nick Denton (@nicknotned) January 29, 2013

 

View Comments (2)