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March 1, 2012 AT 9:41 am

Innovation without Age Limits

Pt 718

Innovation without Age Limits @ Technology Review.

Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley prefer to fund the young, the next Mark Zuckerberg. Why? The common mantra is that if you are over 35, you are too old to innovate. In fact, there is an evolving profile of the “perfect” entrepreneur—smart enough to get into Harvard or Stanford and savvy enough to drop out. Some prominent figures are even urging talented young people to skip college, presumably so they do not waste their “youngness” on studying.

To a degree, the cult Silicon Valley has built around young people makes sense—particularly in the Internet and mobile technology. The young have a huge advantage because they aren’t encumbered by the past. Older technology workers are experts in building and maintaining systems in old computer languages and architectures. They make much bigger salaries. Why should employers pay $150,000 for a worker with 20 years of irrelevant experience when they can hire a fresh college graduate for $60,000? After all, the graduate will bring in new ideas and doesn’t have to go home early to a family.


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2 Comments

  1. So us “old farts” can make our millions through litigation based on age discrimination? Sweet exit strategy 😉

  2. What a lot of HR people (and probably many young managers) seem to forget is that in engineering, there’s a lot of “what goes around comes around”, and at least some of what we old farts know *will* be useful again. I’m currently involved with an embedded project where some software techniques I saw used on control systems over 30 years ago are proving to be very useful again.

    Let’s not forget, either, that even ARM architectures that people find so exciting nowadays have core technologies going back almost 30 years, and parts of *those* were derived from architectures going back at least into the early 1960s.

    “Irrelevant experience”? HAH.

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