Break out the tiny violins

This NY Times story about millionaires living and working in Silicon Valley is one of the silliest things I’ve read in a while. It talks about people who work in the tech industry, who have had some success and are worth a couple million dollars and up. But they’re anxious about the hours they have to work, guilty about making so much money to begin with and upset that they aren’t making more. It is the NY Times, so you might guess they found a few willing participants and exaggerated the story to fit. But it’s sad to read about the people who are featured, who define themselves solely by the amount of money they have and its relative value to the super-rich they see around them. It actually reads a like a parody from The Onion. Perhaps I’ll find out in a couple of days that this is a spoof or someone hijacked the NY Times website.

“I know people looking in from the outside will ask why someone like me keeps working so hard,” Mr. Steger says. “But a few million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Maybe in the ’70s, a few million bucks meant ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ or Richie Rich living in a big house with a butler. But not anymore.

. . .

Mr. Kremen estimated his net worth at $10 million. That puts him firmly in the top half of 1 percent among Americans, according to wealth data from the Federal Reserve, but barely in the top echelons in affluent towns like Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton. So he logs 60- to 80-hour workweeks because, he said, he does not think he has nearly enough money to ease up.

“You’re nobody here at $10 million,” Mr. Kremen said earnestly over a glass of pinot noir at an upscale wine bar here.

. . .

“I’d be rich in Kansas City,” he said. “People would seek me out for boards. But here I’m a dime a dozen.”

No one knows for certain how many single-digit millionaires live in Silicon Valley. Certainly their numbers reach into the tens of thousands, say those who work with the area’s engineers and entrepreneurs. Yet nearly all of them still have all-consuming jobs, not only because the work gives them a sense of achievement and satisfaction but also because they think they must work so much to afford their gilded neighborhoods,


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