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techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

Silicon Valley elites are fleeing the region for states like Texas andFlorida, but that shouldn’t be surprising – it’s the culmination of a cultureclash that has been brewing in the tech industry for years | Business Insider * Since the onset of the pandemic, tech’s elite and major firms like HP and Oracle have begun moving out of the Bay Area. * Palantir, Oracle, and HP have all moved their headquarters to other states, and Elon Musk, Drew Houston, Larry Ellison, and Keith Rabois have all decided to leave for cities like Austin and Miami. * While the exodus might seem sudden, it’s the direct result of a culture clash that’s been simmering below the surface for years. * It dates back to at least 2017, when Oculus cofounder Palmer Luckey was ousted at Facebook over the news that he was financing an anti-Hillary Clinton meme group. * That same year, Google engineer James Damore was fired after he wrote an anti-diversity memo. * Both situations highlighted a growing population of tech workers fed up with the region’s culture. Now, more than three years later, the pandemic seems to have freed those who feel frustrated by Silicon Valley’s culture to leave the area for good. * Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. * * *The Silicon Valley exodus is real.Since the onset of the pandemic, billionaires, venture capitalists, and evenmajor tech firms like HP and Oracle have started to flee the Bay Area. What atfirst seemed like a one-off response to our new remote-work reality has becomea trend: Tech’s elite are leaving, and they’re citing a mixture of high taxes,state regulations, and a homogenous, liberal culture as their reasons fordecamping to Texas, Colorado, or Florida.While the departures of Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, and Keith Rabois are new,the reasons that seem to have nudged them out the door date back years. Thepandemic may have spurred a migration away from the West Coast, but thewriting has been on the wall as far back as 2017.Now, as we approach 2021, it seems that a long-simmering culture clash isfinally coming to a head. Read more: The tech elite are abandoning Silicon Valley in droves because of‘monoculture’ and high taxes — here’s where they’re headed #### The onset of the so-called culture warsWhile it’s likely that facets of Silicon Valley’s culture had been starting tosplinter for several years prior to 2017, the most public instance of aculture clash coincides, roughly, with the beginning of President DonaldTrump’s presidency.In September 2016, Palmer Luckey, then the 24-year-old millionaire cofounderof virtual reality company Oculus, was discovered to be the main benefactorbehind an anti-Hillary Clinton meme group. By that point, Luckey had alreadysold Oculus to Facebook for $US2 billion and launched the Oculus Rift, thecompany’s first major product.According to reporting by The Daily Beast, Luckey had been financing a groupcalled Nimble America, which described itself online as having proven “thats—posting is powerful and meme magic is real.” The group had put up abillboard in Pittsburgh with Clinton’s face that read “Too big to jail.”Luckey told The Daily Beast at the time that funding the group “sounded like areal jolly good time.”After the report came out, several female employees resigned from Facebook inprotest and Luckey stayed out of the spotlight at Oculus events. By March2017, he left Facebook — in subsequent interviews, Luckey has said he wasfired.Luckey’s departure was viewed, by some, as a politically motivated firing. In2018, Sen. Ted Cruz asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a Senatehearing why Luckey was fired, implying it was over his politics, whichZuckerberg denied.While that was the first and most public instance of ideological differencesbecoming a sticking point in Silicon Valley, it wasn’t the last.The same year, Google engineer James Damore made headlines for writing ananti-diversity manifesto that spread like wildfire through Google’s ranks.Damore argued that the search giant shouldn’t be aiming to increase racial andgender diversity among its employees, but should instead aim for “ideologicaldiversity.” Damore also argued that the gender gap in tech is due tobiological difference between men and women, not sexism.The memo resulted in Damore’s firing, but it also sparked a groundswell ofsupport among white, male engineers at Google who felt that conversationsabout diversity were offensive to white men and conservatives. Around the sametime, far-right communities online began revealing the identities of Googleemployees who identified as part of the LGBTQ community. Damore then suedGoogle, alleging the company discriminated against white, conservative males(Damore later dropped the suit.)Both Luckey and Damore ended up without a job. But the reactions to theirsituations and the support they both received highlighted that there was agrowing population of tech workers fed up with the region’s culture. At thetime, Business Insider’s Steve Kovach argued that Silicon Valley’s “liberalbubble” had burst and that the culture wars had begun.## Tech millionaires and billionaires are leaving the Bay Area in drovesMore than three years later, it seems as though that undercurrent ofdissatisfaction is coinciding with the secondary effects of the coronaviruspandemic.In years past, those who felt disgruntled, overruled, or otherwisedisenfranchised by Silicon Valley’s predominately liberal culture had fewoptions. They could leave, of course, but the tech world was still firmlyrooted in the Bay Area. Those who wanted a career in tech still felt like theyneeded to put up with skyrocketing rents and hours-long commutes.But when offices shut down and major tech companies asked their employees towork remotely, there was no longer as strong a tether to the Bay Area. Somecompanies, like Twitter and Slack, freed their workers to live wherever theywanted with no expectation to ever return to their San Francisco offices.Others, like Facebook, have said employees may work remotely forever withmanager approval. Read more: An inside look at how Slack is planning to readjust salaries and retrainmanagers so it can let employees work from home forever These decisions seem to have encouraged a larger shift among Silicon Valley’selite.Palantir has moved its headquarters to Colorado and HP and Oracle moved toTexas. Palantir CEO Alex Karp told Axios in May that the company wanted tomove away from the West Coast and described what he saw as an “increasingintolerance and monoculture” in the tech industry. Karp, for his part, hadbeen living in New Hampshire for much of the pandemic.Since then, venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, andTesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk have moved to Austin — Lonsdale tweeted thatthe region was “more tolerant of ideological diversity,” and Musk made themove after warring with California over the state’s coronavirus lockdownmeasures.Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison has left the region for Lanai, the islandhe mostly owns in Hawaii, and investor Keith Rabois is decamping for Miami,citing high taxes in San Francisco and a political culture he abhors as hisreasons for leaving.And of course, all of these moves follow venture capitalist and PayPal founderPeter Thiel’s famous departure for Los Angeles in 2018, a move seeminglyspurred by his dislike of Silicon Valley’s liberal ideology.Notably, Lonsdale, Musk, Rabois, and Karp all have ties to Thiel and PayPal,and Ellison is close friends with Musk and sits on Tesla’s board.So while the wave of departures from arguably the most famous tech hub in theworld are, for better or worse, being spurred by the pandemic, the exodusdidn’t being out of the blue — it’s a direct result of political andideological differences that have been building just below the surface foryears.### Business Insider Emails & AlertsSite highlights each day to your inbox.Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, andInstagram.

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