By Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, online now and for the Oct. 14, 2013 issue
[....] For years, I had been travelling from New York to San Francisco, and the passage had always been dutiful. (I grew up there.) Then, about a year ago, I started to notice that landing back at Kennedy brought the warm release of a down-shifting engine, a sense of lowered stakes.
It made no sense that, of the two, San Francisco had turned into the power city. But, then, much about the country’s new aspirational physics left me confused. [.... ] Everyone had a sense that Northern California was the source of these changes, yet few knew why. If I hoped to understand the first thing about American culture in this decade, I realized, I’d need to figure out exactly what was going on in San Francisco [....]
In recent years, San Francisco has become the capital of what someone described to me as “three-business-card life.” People might give a lot of their time to one startup while keeping a substantial equity share, and maybe a nominal job title, in one or two others that are just getting off the ground. They might help fund-raise for one company while investing in another one. Entrepreneurialism is a high-failure business, the thinking goes, but if you keep a few pots on the burner sooner or later something will boil. Then you can live off that payoff for a while or invest it in other things. People like Willis, young and urban and professionally diffuse, tend to regard success in terms of autonomy—designing your life as you want—rather than Napoleonic domination [....]
And for a darker view of this exact same world, see:
All Is Fair in Love and Twitter
By Nick Bilton, New York Times Magazine, October 9/13, 2013
Adapted from the author's book, “Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal,” to be published next month by Penguin/Portfolio.
It's actually kind of amazing that both these stories have been published at basically the same time.