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VCs think criticism of them in wake of bank failure is akin to inciting a genocide

Be nice, please.

 

David Covucci

Tech

Venture capitalists have been worked into a tizzy online today after an article in Slate examined the industry’s influence in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank‘s (SVB) collapse this weekend.

SVB, the preferred bank of the tech industry, start-ups, and the VC industry that helps fund it all, swiftly collapsed after federal investigators on Thursday began prodding it over its solvency.

As the bank failed, a number of prominent VCs panicked, with some being accused of even inciting a potential bank run as they hollered for the federal government to protect the tech industry’s funds.

Now, the media, which the tech industry has long despised for its un-sycophantic coverage, has been questioning the untoward influence VC kingmakers have over what tech makes it out of its incipient stage and is foisted unto the world.

In an article for Slate, writer Edward Ongweso Jr. explicitly called out that relationship, saying “It’s not obvious to me why venture capitalists should be so in control of what tech gets funded, who designs it, how it gets developed, why it gets deployed, and where the returns go.”

“We can and should explore alternatives to the privately run VC system prioritizing tech that degrades and commodifies more of our life,” he added, “gambles on these developments with other people’s money, and in the blink of an eye causes regular panics that threaten to upend life for countless people.”

But it was his tweet, which called VCs “parasites” who shouldn’t be trusted with such control that set them over the edge.

“Venture capitalists are parasites who couldn’t be trusted with the financial institution that held up their industry, let alone the direction of our technological development. Euthanizing them is imperative if we want a better world,” he posted.

In response, a number of prominent VCs responded to the tweet with their own hyperbolic responses, accusing the author of somehow laying the groundwork for a new Rwandan genocide and Holocaust.

“This sort of rhetoric is how you end up with things like the Rwandan genocide,” wrote Nate Fischer, a self-described founder and inventor.

The Rwandan genocide was one of the worst instances of mass, indiscriminate slaughter in world history, where an estimated half-million Tutsis, an ethnic minority in Rwanda, were killed over a period of four months.

When not comparing the few VCs in Silicon Valley to a protected ethnic minority, Fischer was decrying diversity in business and government, saying the equity officials need to be purged and agreeing that the worst thing you can do as a company is hiring social justice warrior.

Not to be outdone, Marc Andreessen, of the VC firm AZ16, compared Ongweso’s tweet to “Alfred Rosenberg writing in the Völkischer Beobachter.”

Rosenberg was the editor of the Völkischer Beobachte, the official paper of the German Nazi party, which pushed pro-Hitler propaganda.

Jason Calacanis, one of Elon Musk’s close confidantes, and someone accused of stoking panic over the situation at SVB, replied to the tweet saying “Might want to go easy on the word euthanizing and inciting violence Edward.”

Other prominent tech VCs had more muted criticism but nonetheless disagreed with the tweet.

For Ongweso’s part, he had a laugh at Andreessen and other VCs, who he said missed his reference to the famous economist John Maynard Keynes.

“Oh he knows Nazi texts but not one of Keynes’ most famous quotes? Interesting,” wrote Ongweso of Andreessen’s response.

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