Saturday, March 22, 2008


I have been a reluctant technopreneur for two years now – I have resisted being called one, and have even downplayed my part in the establishment of my company. But who am I kidding? There’s no Marxism left in my blood. I’ve become a capitalist, profit-driven yettie:

Yettie stands for YOUNG ENTREPRENEURIAL TECHNOCRATS which, according to Sifton, is “a new branch on the business culture’s evolutionary tree. A yettie is a founder of an internet company who cannot explain to his mother exactly what he does for a living. Certainly, the yettie is media savvy, possesses stock options, and is wickedly smart. His political opinions are likely to be libertarian, conservatively retrofitted to allow for what he sees as his inevitable massing of wealth. Greed is neither good nor bad to the yettie. It is a simple entitlement – one that comes to the smart, the hardworking, the wise, the lucky, the perceptive – to the yettie.”

There are many kinds of yetties, but MSP and I fall into two distinct categories – I am the MARKETING GEEK, while he is the typical YETTIE CEO:

The Yettie CEO has a deep background in technology and a confidential understanding of his product – after all, he built the product. To him, entrepreneurship is a divine calling and not just an aspect of his personality. He assumes huge risk for huge profit. He may, in the wake of a big revenue inflow, purchase a toy for himself: a complete set of comic books. He will continue to drive his Nissan Sentra until someone offers him a Mercedes Benz at discount. He sometimes sleeps at work, under his desk.

Yada yada yada (snore). Enough about him. This post is about the person who compensates for the Yettie CEO’s limited social skills – the person who truly keeps technocracy afloat.

This post is about ME.

Except for some minute details, I am essentially the Marketing Geek Sifton describes in his book:

1- I don’t wear eyeglasses, but if I did, it would probably be tortoiseshell glasses from Oliver Peoples. They would add IQ points to my appearance. Not that I need them, no.

2- A diamond pendant my boyfriend gave me on our second anniversary, which is the last time I remember crying about a happy thing.

3- A cashmere sweater set (or silk-cotton blend, depending on the weather). These ensembles let us Marketing Geeks deal with temperature changes, and the varying occasions that sometimes require us to show some skin (just take the cardigan off).

4- A convenient pre-Patek watch.

5- Capris – which may very well pass from fashion soon – are so comfortable that we are virally-testing if they can be renamed “banjo pants.” That should keep them au courant.

6- Designer bag (right now I carry Dior, Gucci, or Longchamp). According to Sifton, “there’s something counter-intuitive about marketing laptop-free.”

7- Prada! We just love saying that word. It sets us apart from the dorks we work with. Let the rest of the technocracy wear clunky shoes; I wear designer loafers because I can.

As THE Marketing Geek, I own half the company, am responsible for making it look good to clients, and know more about business development and sellable content than the clueless Yettie CEO who codes all day (to prove that he’s still the alpha-male, “da mighty programo.”) Suck it, CEO. I am YOUR IMPLEMENTOR. Cyberlords like you wait for a Mercedes Benz discount – I actually have a Mercedes. I like to think in my car, while listening to Bach, running a list of things I have to do to increase revenue (from conception to pricing to promotion to distribution). I do the same thing at three in the morning, typing emails in bed.

Anyway, being THE Marketing Geek has stripped me of my Marxist tendencies. I am now more in tune with the nature of capitalism than I am with Veblen’s attempts at equality. At the end of the day, it’s the bottomline I protect – not the jobs, not the people.

Don’t get me wrong. I pay people REALLY well. I provide a clean, ergonomic office. I even provide good medical and dental plans. But in between the stress of mentally computing cash flows and pleasing difficult clients, I have no time to get to know employees. Look, employee number 005. I appreciate your hard work and I’m ready to give you a raise, but don’t expect me to ask about how your dog is.

The sad truth about a technocracy – or any company, for that matter – is that employees are led to believe that they have a stake when really, they don’t. Other entrepreneurs would crucify me for saying this, but it is the truth: ONLY PROFIT MATTERS.

Many employees still think that they are indispensable to the companies they work for just because (a) they get paid well and because (b) their boss (a middle-management non-owner) tells them that they are. This hypocrisy has got to end. Sure, you are important, but you are not indispensable. If you leave, the business will go on. You probably have illusions that the owner of the company you left would feel heartbroken over your resignation, but believe me – he’s just relieved that you didn’t last long enough to qualify for paid leaves. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. The day you resign, he goes off to his usual fancy dinner, while you start another job for yet another master.

Fortunately, my new reality has immunized me to these hypocrisies. I never mislead employees into thinking that they should stay for many years. I tell them point-blank that what I offer is a good starting point – nice salary, flexible working hours, and relaxed management. They are free to explore other careers. Heck, they are even free to start their own technocracies – to use what they learn from us to spin their own ideas and get out of employee-dom.

You work for me, I pay you well. We’re both happy. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’re vital to operations, and I won’t delude myself into thinking that I am really your boss. Sounds fair? Welcome to my company.

It’s this honesty and fairness that I am proud of. It’s what enables me to create jobs, opportunities, and some wealth for this third world nation.

Hmm. Turns out I’m still Marxist.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you should contemplate on my suggestion to you at Dome cafe. you've got a good story to tell, the story that cuts through all the niceties and euphemisms and bull of entrepreneurship. you THE marketing yettie should educate third world ratracers. it's gonna be the start of your foundation. :)

3:22 PM  

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