The League: Implications & Responsibilities as Technologists

Silicon Valley -

Here are a few things I believe:

  1. Capitalism is a technology, not an ideology
  2. Technology can be used both to disrupt systems and oppression, and conversely, to strengthen existing stratifications

Here are a few things about the Bay Area, where you live:

  1. The Bay Area has the fastest growing gap between the rich and the poor in the entire US. From 2007-2012 the richest 5% saw their incomes increase $28000, while the bottom 20% saw theirs drop $4000
  2. If San Francisco were a country, its GINI coefficient (a measure of income distribution), would rank as 14th worst in the World
  3. Minorities in SF are decreasing both in aggregate and percentage

I recently saw press of an app, The League. As an app that trumpets ‘weeding out’ the ‘less-than-desirable applicants’ I can’t help but wonder what you’re actually getting at with homepage qualifiers including ‘classy’, ‘noisy’, and Harvard hottie ‘fakes’. I can keep going, though I think you get the point.

I could ask about the socioeconomic demographics of your personally curated ‘Rolex the size of frisbee’ wearing users, recently hailed as 28% directors, 20% CEOs, and 45% higher degree holders. But I suspect I already know.

Technology has and always will be a tool to empower the underrepresented, the impoverished, and the oppressed. As a technologist, entrepreneur, and investor though I at times question the merit in the self titled merit-ocracy of Silicon Valley. Generally these questions stem from observations having grown up in the Bay Area, seeing firsthand the growing bimodal distribution of wealth, power, and opportunity. Sometimes though, they’re less opaque and come in brick-and-mortar medium - the ‘18th-century colonial-esque mansion’ The Battery serves as prime example here.

Rarely though, do I find these worries stemming from technology itself. It’s disheartening to see such little veiling of socioeconomic elitism and culture-phobia as demonstrated by ‘The League’, which by all accounts leverages technology to strengthen boundaries between already growing and disparate populations.

To the founders, team members, advisors, and investors alike: I don’t mean to write this for sake of questioning underlying morals. Rather, as participants in technology creation and culture we live on a precarious plane along which we maneuver personal well being, personal aspirations, and personal ethics - define them as you may. At times though, I suspect we’re all guilty of disconnecting from this last bit - and for reasonable reasons this particular instantiation struck a chord.

We’re exceptionally lucky to sit in a near golden age of technological empowerment, accessibility, freedom, and disruption. Let’s take these moments to reflect on how we fit within larger ecosystems we belong to, the privileges we have, and the stratifications we make - purposefully or not.

I’m open to feedback and thoughts at @zavaindar




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