The nation is in crisis, our economy on the brink. And yet President Change is spending time with a group of technowastrels whose sole noteworthy accomplishment has been to spend other people's money.
The group is ringled by ragingly egocentric former Google peon Chris Sacca. It also includes Twitter CEO Ev Williams; Josh Spear, the "youngest marketing strategist in the world"; and Jake Nickell, the "chief strategy officer" of online T-shirt vendor Threadless. (In Silicon Valley, when board members are not prepared to fire a founder outright, they often give him a meaningless title involving "strategy.")
It's one thing for the Valley's moneymen to maintain the polite pretense that the twentysomething entrepreneurs they fund are brilliant creators whose searing intelligence makes up for their inexperience, naïveté, and general ineptness. After all, if they pretend long enough, they can peddle whatever shlocky website their protégés have cooked up to an even more gullible private-equity investor or mutual-fund manager. 'Twas ever thus. We call this scam "venture capital," and in good years, it is mildly profitable.
Let's review: Williams's company isn't even trying to make money. Spear is a social media marketer — in other word, someone who gets paid to chat with his friends online all day. Nickell clothes the indolent hipsters of Brooklyn.
And Sacca? He's the worst of all. In five years at Google, he never rose higher than the level of manager, despite an assiduous track record of sucking up to CEO Eric Schmidt. People assume that he's rich from having joined Google before its IPO — yet as he once defensively whined to me in an email, he actually isn't. So this is someone who managed to be present at the greatest wealth-creating event of our decade and yet failed to actually make money. He is now advising startups.
For Barack Obama to take these lackbrains' advice when the world needs saving? This is an outrage on the scale of the bank bailout. Perhaps he thinks there's some photo-op value in being pictured with so many young, hip types — proof that as old American industries die, new, Twittery ones are being born. But these companies won't create meaningful numbers of jobs. At best, they'll make some VCs rich by flipping them to some unlucky buyer. At worst, they'll go spectacularly bankrupt. Inevitably, that photo of Obama and the twits will surface as news of their failure breaks. Stop this meeting, someone, before they taint our most perfect president forever!