Boring is the new black

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When you have a trillion-dollar market cap…


From Farhad Majoo’s The Metamorphosis of Silicon Valley C.E.O.s: From Big to Boring in Thursday’s New York Times:

It’s no mystery why tech leaders are turning inward. “Tech is now such a huge and dominant industry,” said Joshua Reeves, the proudly boring founder and chief executive of Gusto, a start-up that makes human resources software. “The fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mind-set is just not viable when you have a trillion-dollar market capitalization or if you have more influence than many governments around the world.” …

There is one obvious exception to my boring-is-in thesis: Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, whose string of unconsidered tweets, taunts and other recent scandals have been anything but eye-glazing…

Back in [Steve] Jobs’s day, tech was relatively uncomplicated; when the great man came bearing a new music player, you didn’t have to wonder whether it might help a foreign government steal an election. Now, after everything we have seen recently, you do have to worry about what the future may hold. Even Mr. Musk is worried.

“I tried to convince people to slow down A.I.,” he told Mr. Rogan. “This was futile. I tried for many years. Nobody listened. Nobody listened.”

Thus, the tension: On one hand, Mr. Musk wants us to believe that everything he’s building is going to turn out wonderfully. On the other, he’s telling us to be very scared. This sounds like a contradiction, but in its admission of doubt and complexity, it’s actually a pretty good picture of the future.

No wonder he sounds crazy. No wonder everyone else is going for boring.

My take: Apple went for boring seven years ago.