The same dynamic is playing out throughout Silicon Valley, as companies like Intel post disappointing earnings reports and others like Snapchat turn down billion-dollar offers. The rapid consumer-ification of tech, led by Facebook and Google, has created a deep rift between old and new, hardware and software, enterprise companies that sell to other businesses and consumer companies that sell directly to the masses. On their face, these cleavages seem to be part of the natural order. As Biswas pointed out, “There has always been a constant churn of new companies coming in, old companies dying out.”
But the churn feels more problematic now, in part because it deprives the new guard as well as the old — and by extension, it deprives us all. In pursuing the latest and the coolest, young engineers ignore opportunities in less-sexy areas of tech like semiconductors, data storage and networking, the products that form the foundation on which all of Web 2.0 rests. […] The talent — and there’s a ton of it — flowing into Silicon Valley cares little about improving these infrastructural elements. What they care about is coming up with more web apps.
Perhaps the article’s most powerful point is that now that startup launching is commoditized (AWS, Facebook API, etc.), the ideas are what matter, rather than the technology, and older engineers frequently lack the freedom to take risk for ideas and vision.