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从神奇小子到灰发谷歌族:当科技领袖变得更成熟

更新时间:2018-3-16 20:20:44 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Young Terrors of Tech Grow a Bit Older, and Wiser
从神奇小子到灰发谷歌族:当科技领袖变得更成熟

Several years ago, a plastic figurine began appearing around Google’s offices, an aging alien with gray hair, a Google Glass headset and a sign that read, “Get Off My Lawn!”

几年前,一个塑料小塑像开始出现在谷歌(Google)的办公室附近——一个花白头发的老外星人,戴着谷歌眼镜,一个标志上面写着“滚出我的草坪!”

The doll, a special edition of Google’s Android mascot, was a jokey tribute to the Greyglers, a group for the 40-and-over crowd at Google, and the doll hinted at how it felt to be an older worker in tech: funny, self-conscious, a little out of place.

这个玩偶是谷歌安卓系统吉祥物的特别版,是对“灰发谷歌族”(Greyglers)——40岁及以上的谷歌用户群体——的玩笑致敬,这个玩偶还暗示着年长科技工作者给人的感觉:风趣、自我意识强烈,有点不合时宜。

The Greyglers still exist, but they’re no longer such an anomaly. Sundar Pichai, Google’s 45-year-old chief executive, would fit in the group. So would Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who co-founded the search engine as graduate students two decades ago; Susan Wojcicki, an early employee who runs YouTube; and most of the company’s other high-ranking executives.

灰发谷歌族依然存在,但他们已经不再那样与众不同。现年45岁的谷歌首席执行官桑达尔·皮查伊(Sundar Pichai)符合这个群体。二十年前在读研究生期间共同创立了这个搜索引擎的拉里·佩奇(Larry Page)和谢尔盖·布林(Sergey Brin)也符合这个群体;负责运营YouTube的早期员工苏珊·沃西基(Susan Wojcicki),以及该公司其他大部分高级管理人员,都属于这个群体。

For years, the self-appointed leaders of Silicon Valley were young people — mostly men — with age-appropriate behavior. They adopted brash mottos like “move fast and break things” and eschewed work-life balance in favor of all-night hacking sessions in offices that looked more like college dorms. Their successes were cheered, and their sins were shrugged off as the cost of innovation.

多年来,硅谷这些自封的领袖都是年轻人——主要是男性——他们的行为和年龄很相称。他们使用“快速行动,打破陈规”之类惹眼的格言,并且无视工作与生活的平衡,更喜欢在看上去活像大学宿舍的办公室里搞通宵突击行动。他们的成功受到欢呼,他们的原罪被当作创新的代价而不予理会。

“Young people are just smarter,” Mark Zuckerberg crowed back in 2007, when he was the 22-year-old wunderkind behind a fledgling social network.

“年轻人更聪明,”马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)在2007年自鸣得意地说,当时他22岁,是一个羽翼渐丰的社交网络背后的天之骄子。

Now, of course, Facebook is a global powerhouse, and the company’s pursuit of growth at all costs has led to some truly dire consequences around the world and fueled a larger backlash against tech. At the same time, Zuckerberg has disproved his own theory. Now 33, he is still not old by any measure (except perhaps his own). But he is a smarter and more self-aware leader than he was a decade ago, and he has shown more willingness to accept responsibility for the company’s mistakes. After years of moving fast and breaking things, Facebook is at least acknowledging its flaws and trying, albeit clumsily, to fix them. That’s a start.

当然,Facebook现在已经成了全球大公司,不惜一切代价地追求增长,导致全球各地出现了一些真正可怕的后果,并引发了对科技的强烈反感。与此同时,扎克伯格证明了自己的理论是错的。他今年33岁,以任何标准而言(或许除了他自己的标准),他都还不算老。但他成了一个比十年前更聪明、更自觉的领导者,他表现出更强烈的愿意,希望为公司的错误承担责任。在经历了多年的快速行动和打破陈规之后,Facebook至少承认了自己的缺陷,并试图修复它们,虽然有些笨拙。这是一个开始。

There’s a lot of growing up happening in today’s tech industry, where former whiz kids made their fortunes and are now settling down, starting families and starting to think about their legacies. Tech’s workforce remains young — according to PayScale, the median employee at the five largest tech companies is around 30, roughly a decade younger than the median American worker — but the industry’s leaders have gotten older, and are seemingly more attuned to the power they wield.

当今的科技行业成熟了许多,曾经的神奇小子发了财,现在都安稳了下来,组建家庭,开始考虑身后留名的事情。科技劳动力依然年轻——根据PayScale的数据,五大科技公司员工年龄的中位数在30岁左右,大约比美国劳动者的中位数小了10岁——但这个行业的领导者们正在变老,对自己手中的权力也看似更为敏感。

“Five years ago, there was no talk of empathy or moral responsibility,” said Om Malik, a venture capitalist who has written about the tech industry for years.

“五年前,没人谈同理心或道德责任,”就科技行业撰文多年的风险投资人奥姆·马利克(Om Malik)说。

In recent weeks, I spoke to numerous industry insiders about this coming of age. Here’s what I learned.

最近几周,我与许多业内人士就这种成熟进行了交流。我了解到了以下内容。

Gregor Hochmuth, 33, an early engineer at Instagram, said some of today’s internet giants had grown up with positive-thinking cultures that left them vulnerable to abuse.

33岁的格雷戈尔·霍赫穆特(Gregor Hochmuth)是早期加入Instagram的一名工程师,他表示,今天的一些互联网巨头成长于正向思维文化之中,这使他们面对谩骂无力招架。

“The idea that a product could make your life worse was not in anyone’s perception,” said Hochmuth, who left Instagram in 2014.

“一个产品会让人的生活变更糟这种事,大家想都没想过,”霍赫穆特说,他在2014年离开了Instagram。

That perspective helps explain the shock many founders felt when the internet grew into the foundation of global culture and commerce, and products they had built as quirky experiments became pieces of critical infrastructure.

这个看法有助于解释许多创始人所感受到的冲击,他们看到互联网已经演化成全球文化和贸易的基础,而他们出于个人古怪趣味而建起来的产品,成为一些关键基础设施。

“No one was thinking about ‘Wow, in 15 years, billions of people are going to be using this site every day,'” said Andrew McCollum, 34, one of Facebook’s founders, who left the company in 2006 and is now the chief executive of Philo, an internet TV company. “The goal was ‘How do we create something great?’ — not ‘What’s our plan for world domination?'”

“当时没人会想‘哇,15年后,每天都会有几十亿人用这个网站’,”34岁的安德鲁·麦科克伦(Andrew McCollum)说,他是Facebook的创始人之一,在2006年离开Facebook后,他现于网络电视公司Philo担任首席执行官。“那时候的目标是‘我们如何创造出伟大的东西’——而不是‘我们打算怎样称霸世界’?”

You could chalk these statements up to self-interest. But Maureen Taylor, a leadership communication expert who frequently coaches tech executives, said this kind of earnest self-examination was becoming more frequent among founders.

你可以认为这样的言论是出于个人利益。但经常向科技高管提供指导的领导力沟通专家莫林·泰勒(Maureen Taylor)表示,这种真诚的自省在创始人之中愈发常见。

“As you get older, you realize your responsibilities are bigger,” she said. “People are becoming very thoughtful about the ramifications of technology, and remembering that the whole point was to make the world a better place.”

“随着年龄的增长,你就会意识到自己有着更大的责任,”她说。“人们对科技的后果思考得越来越多,他们重新想起,这一切的初衷就是要让世界更美好。”

The tech industry’s stereotypical accessory used to be the hoodie. Today, it might as well be the Baby Bjorn. There are a lot of new parents among tech elites, including Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom, 34, a co-founder of Instagram. (Evan Spiegel, the 27-year-old chief executive of Snap, is expecting his first child this year.) And parenthood seems to be shaping their attitudes. In an interview with The New York Times this year, Zuckerberg cited his children as one of the reasons he was so focused on fixing Facebook.

在过去,科技行业标配是一件卫衣。而现在,可能就是一件婴儿背带。在科技精英之中,有许多人初为父母,包括扎克伯格和Instagram公司34岁的联合创始人凯文·斯特罗姆(Kevin Systrom)。(27岁的Snap首席执行官埃文·斯皮格尔[Evan Spiegel]今年将迎来第一个孩子。)而父母的身份似乎也影响了他们的观念。今年,扎克伯格在接受《纽约时报》采访时说,他的孩子是他如此专注于纠正Facebook的原因之一。

“It’s important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world,” Zuckerberg said.

“能让麦克斯和奥古斯特长大后觉得,他们的父亲做的事对世界有益,这对我来说很重要,”扎克伯格说。

Silicon Valley works a bit like a forest — as old trees decay and die, they decompose and fertilize the next generation of growth. And today’s largest tech companies are beginning to show their age. Facebook is 14 years old, and Twitter is 12. Google, at 20, is now nearly as old as Microsoft was in 1998, when Google was started.

硅谷的运转有点像森林——当老的树木衰败、死亡,它们会腐烂而后为下一代的生长提供养分。如今,最大的那些科技公司也开始上了年纪。Facebook已经14岁,Twitter有12岁。20岁的谷歌和1998年谷歌创立时的微软一样大。

The tech industry’s maturity may be a sign of cyclical renewal. Fifteen years ago, Larry Ellison — the billionaire co-founder of Oracle, and the enfant terrible of an earlier generation of tech moguls — denounced what he saw as Silicon Valley’s slow-footed stagnation. (The tech industry was “as large as it’s going to be,” he predicted.)

科技行业的成熟可能是周期性更新的标志。十五年前,身家亿万的甲骨文公司(Oracle)联合创始人、上一代科技巨头中的捣蛋天才拉里·埃里森(Larry Ellison)谴责了他所看到的硅谷的驻足不前。(他曾预言科技产业“规模顶多就这么大了”。)

Ellison was wrong, of course. Tech wasn’t stagnant, but the generation of mature companies that included Oracle was on its way to being eclipsed by newer and scrappier ventures.

当然,埃里森错了。科技并非停滞,只是包括了甲骨文在内的这一代成熟公司正在被更新、更有闯劲的企业超越。

If history is any indication, that cycle will repeat itself and a new crop of young tech leaders will emerge. But hopefully they’ll learn from the mistakes made by their predecessors. Technology is too important now, and we can’t afford another generation of naïveté.

如果历史有所指示,那便是这个周期将会再次重复,新的一批年轻科技领军人物将会涌现。但希望他们能从前辈的错误中有所学习。科技如今太过重要,我们已经承受不起又一代的幼稚天真了。

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