February 1, 2012

Innovation Without Age Limits

VENTURE CAPITALISTS in Silicon Valley prefer to fund the young, the next Mark Zuckerbert. Why? The common mantra is that if you are over 35, you are too old to innovate. In fact, there is an evolving profile of the perfect entrepreneur - smart enough to get into Harvard or Stanford and savvy enough to drop out. Some prominent figures are even urging talented young people to skip college, presumably so they do not waste their "youngness" on studying.

To a degree, the cult of Silicon Valley has been built around young people makes sense - particularly in the Internet and mobile technology. The young have a huge advantage because they aren't encumbered by the past. Older technology workers are experts in building and maintaining systems in old computer languages and architectures. They make much bigger salaries. Why should employers pay $150,000 for a worker with 20 years of irrelevant experience when they can hire a fresh college graduate for $60,000? After all, the graduate will bring in new ideas and doesn't have to go home early to family.

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