Book notes: Abolish Silicon Valley

Wendy Liu’s Abolish Silicon Valley is a compelling mix of memoir and manifesto. The first two thirds of the book recount her journey from self-taught indie web developer, to college student, to startup founder, to disillusionment with the realities of the Silicon Valley machine. In the last third, she talks about her analysis of the systemic issues in the industry (surprise, it’s capitalism!). She closes the book with a list of changes that would help liberate technology from its servitude to capital and bring back its potential to be a public good.

The memoir section spoke to many of the things I’ve seen, felt and learned during my own Silicon Valley journey. Although it took me many more years and more disappointments to come to the same conclusions, I saw my own arc reflected in Liu’s story. Many of the anecdotes felt uncannily familiar.

The analysis part felt well-reasoned, yet easy to read. The changes Liu proposes make a lot of sense to me, although some of them seem like big long-term projects that probably I won’t see accomplished in my lifetime. The builder in me wishes that she had provided more guidance on practical steps that we in the industry can take in order to help shift things in a better direction.

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