We Don’t Talk Enough About Money In Silicon Valley, Revisited

Things to Remember As You and Your Friends Get Wealthy

“Giraffe money.” That’s the phrase which stuck with me from Erin Griffith’s NYTimes article this spring about the latest set of wealth creating events in the tech community. To quote,

For Palantir, a data analytics company that went public in September, Feb. 18 was “giraffe money” day. That was the first day that current and former employees could cash out all of their shares after the company went public.

In a Slack channel for former employees called Giraffe Money — an apparent reference to wealth that can support casual giraffe ownership — many anticipated their windfalls by sharing links, mostly in jest, to absurdly expensive home listings and boats, one former employee said.

I never heard about giraffes after Google’s IPO, although reportedly one early engineer did buy a carnival-size ferris wheel. But that was back in 2004 and the trillions of dollars of wealth created since in startups, big tech companies and crypto makes earlier questions of extravagance seem quaint.

We are truly in a k-shaped economy and for those fortunate enough to be in the top arm of the K, it’s easy to benefit from being in the right place at the right time.

So I wanted to reshare a post I wrote suggesting that we actually don’t talk about money enough in Silicon Valley, at least not in the transparent and healthy ways that allow us to consider its impact.


Reading it back 3 1/2 years later it still rings true for me personally. We are well-off and happy, those resources having played a significant role in mitigating the risks of the pandemic and the anxiety of a disrupted world. I still worry about the tension between wanting to provide my daughter more experiences and luxuries than I had access to as a child, but not distorting her values or work ethic. Some of the founders we backed in Homebrew’s first fund have realized — or will soon realize — outcomes that will net them hundreds of millions and perhaps even billions of dollars. And I’m thrilled for them and their teams.

More recently we launched an effort called Screendoor to help fund new emerging venture capitalists from underrepresented populations. The idea being that there’s economic opportunity in this segment that’s not being captured today, and there’s a chance to start a virtuous cycle where the investments they make will likely include folks in their networks, who will also hire people in *their* networks, and everyone succeeds together. Those of us who’ve had access to the right hiring manager, or cap table, or referral network have already put ourselves in a position to capitalize, but the pie can be expanded. It’s not about scarcity, it’s about abundance.

Ok, please read my earlier blog post and tell me what you think. I’m off to research how much it actually costs to privately own a giraffe….