Thanks, TechCrunch! While most publications put together a “40 under 40″ list, TechCrunch decided to take on the myth that only young people innovate. Here’s their 40 OVER 40 list of SV digerati.
Frank Barbieri, who put together the list with Sarah Buhr, wrote a thoughtful post explaining why he felt it was time for such a list to be created.
“The myth of older founders is pernicious: too comfortable, they don’t think big enough, not hungry enough, etc. Elon Musk doesn’t think big enough? Hadi Partovi is resting on his laurels with the founding of code.org? Where does the correlation of age to the myth of The Valley hero/heroine come from? One of the very founders of Silicon Valley itself Robert Noyce founded Intel when he was 41.”
In a related side note, Twitter is currently being sued for age discrimination (lawsuit filed last week). Here’s the story from SF Weekly.
Norman Lear, producer of ground-breaking shows such as All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons says he’s facing agism among those who fund TV shows. The 91 year old, who loves to take on controversial issues, says that no one is interested in hearing about his idea of a comedy in a retirement village.
“They don’t want to touch the demographic,” he said. Apparently, he said, there’s only room for one old person (that would be another comedy veteran, Betty White, who actually is a few months older than Lear) on network television today. The name of the show Lear has been pitching is Guess Who’s Dead?, a title that got a huge laugh from the audience.”
“Age should no longer determine the appropriate end of a working life,” writes the Economist Magazine. This seems reasonable to me, especially given that people are healthier now than ever before (and thus able to work longer). But as the magazine points out, there will be a divide between older, well-educated, individuals and those who spent their careers in less-skilled areas. Those who are well-educated are more likely to stay in the workforce, while those with fewer skills are more likely to take retirement even if they are still in good health. From the article:
“Some 65% of American men aged 62-74 with a professional degree are in the workforce, compared with 32% of men with only a high-school certificate. In the European Union the pattern is similar.”
How to address this divide? The Economist suggests training programs — also not a bad idea. “Today, many governments are understandably loth to spend money retraining older folk who are likely to retire soon. But if people can work for longer, that investment makes much more sense.” Here’s another link to the longer briefing.
While this article by a young computer science major feels naively ageist (assumes that older engineers are ‘intimidated’ by newer code), he also makes some interesting points about culture clashes between generations.
He says, “If you are 50, no matter how good your coding skills, you probably do not want to be called a “ninja” and go on bar crawls every weekend with your colleagues, which is exactly what many of my friends do.”
Of course, there are some of us who do indeed know 50 year olds that like both the Ninja title and a good dose of booze, but never mind…