Is Silicon Valley Divorced From Reality?

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Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) –- Bloomberg Contributing Editor Paul Kedrosky discusses Kleiner Perkins Co-Founder Tom Perkins’ interview and the tensions in San Francisco over income inequality. He speaks to Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Venture investor.

I know you have been following this all week.

What do you make of perkins' comments?

If anything, if possible, i find him more offensive than i did earlier in the week.

It was offensive the first go around, and now it is cartoonish.

He walked back some of his most egregious comments with respect to the direct comparison to the persecution of the jews in nazi germany, but he went off the ranch with all of this other commentary.

Not just socioeconomic stuff, but you asked whether or not he is connected to the economic reality, and got into a conversation about underwater airplanes and six packs of rolexes.

Either he has no grasp of how to construct a sentence, or he is completely adrift.

So much feedback.

The vast majority of people agree with you.

Some people have come to his defense.

Oh no.

I want you to listen to another thing he said.

This is an argument that has been made over and over again, just now in this specific way.

Take a listen.

It is absurd to demonize the rich for being rich and poor doing what the rich do, which is get richer by creating opportunity for others.

Does he have a point?

[laughter] that is just remarkable stuff , you know?

It could go on posters.

The problem is his incredible willingness to take full ownership of everything that happens in the economic world.

A friend of mine was particularly upset with a comment that was related.

It said, i have created all these billionaires.

That is such complete crap.

The reality is, he put some capital toward incredibly skilled people, he and others who worked to do one of the hardest things and economic life, which is to create an entrepreneurial point and grow it to the point where the founders become wealthy.

At the notion that somehow he is the one doing this, through his intelligence and creative powers -- if you cannot see the role of luck in all of this, that you were in the right place at the right time, and the element of luck and independency, shame on you.

I cannot imagine being that wrapped up in your own ego that you cannot even imagine there were other things going on than your own skill.

Perkins aside, what do you make of the tensions that have been flaring up in san francisco, the protests against the google buses, burning buses in effigy, throwing rocks at them?

Rent is going up faster than any other city in the world, in the country.

I do not know about world.

I do not know about the world anymore.

Some crazy things right now.

That i completely understand.

There is at least two levels.

One is this incredible disparity, haves and have-nots, the phenomenon of almost a lottery driven society.

I am in the right size and have the right paper.

I never is worth millions because i happened to put money -- i had early employee stayed in a small start up.

This feels unfair to people.

They see different strata of society created as a result.

That bothers people.

There is also deep societal unease with this idea -- not just that, but the structure of middle-class economic life is changing.

The bargain that we work hard and i grow in this country and my labor is valued -- i labor may no longer be valued.

Maybe the thing i have been trying to do is no longer relevant.

That rapidly turns into dissent.

We are seeing that with this -- these conflagrations in the streets.

We should not be surprised that is happening.

The ceo of salesforce created a multibillion dollar company, based in san francisco, has done something where he gives one percent of equity, profits, and time to philanthropy.

He came out to "the wall street journal," saying he thinks the google buses should be taken off the streets.

He says, if you hang out in the mission, i come every five minutes.

They have to be massively regulated.

We have to get them on our streets.

-- off our streets.

What do you make of that?

I applaud him.

There is far more going on, many of which are not public.

A remarkable success, remarkable in terms of supporting philanthropic causes as well as bringing people up to see some level of success in their own economic lives.

I agree with him.

He is pointing out things that deserve to be pointed out.

We need to be careful about the symbolism of the actions you take and what it tells people about the privileges they can and cannot have, depending on where they got lucky, go to school, and work.

Really important things to point out.

Otherwise, people would be oblivious to them.

Google has become the poster child with the buses, but apple and facebook have buses going down to silicon valley.

We know the leaders of these companies, the ceo's, give away lots of money.

What is the responsibility of the companies, of the employees, to the local community?

Should google employees or google somehow enable their employees to do more?

Google does, to be fair.

Google has matching programs.

Money you donate to other causes you believe in.

They are one of the most aggressive donors, directly and indirectly.

The question is whether or not these kinds of highly symbolic things, like creating parallel transportation systems -- what does that tell people about living in san francisco?

It is one thing that i know there is someone behind this gate who has an expensive house looking at the golden gate.

That does not get robbed in my face every day.

And i see a parallel transportation system that brings people to work, that really bothers me.

I think there has to be some give here.

You are paying for the bus stops.

There has to be more.

Or has to be blending of this with the public services.

Otherwise, you risk more serious confrontations.

What do you mean by that?

Obviously, these buses are a few of many perks employees get to convince them to commute from san francisco to silicon valley.

But can this divide be healed?

And what should be done to fix it?

I am not sure the divide can never be entirely healed.

It is in the nature of this lottery phenomenon, where you have people made fantastically wealthy.

We're not going to start handing out stock to everyone who lives in the bay area.

That is not going to happen.

You'll always have this envy.

That said, when you start creating infrastructure, doing things like saying, the existing bus system does not work well, so let us do this -- you could make existing transportation systems good.

What about free wi-fi on existing buses?

What about enhancing the existing system, so they become a legitimate alternative for people who are not all turned -- not employees of google?

I think you will see more blending of these services.

Google has a history of doing these things, jumping on what is needed, and blending the best into something else.

That can happen even in public markets.

The expectation is, you will see this bleed over to existing infrastructure, and not get a better version of san francisco public transit, it has that is absurd.

Hopefully some of those people are watching bloomberg.

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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