No Valley for Old People

My birthday is Wednesday and as I am now firmly entrenched in the upper echelons of thirty, I can't help but reflect on age.

Vivek Wadhwa talked about it a bit over the summer when he pointed out that salaries for engineers in the Valley begin to dip for engineers in their forties. Tereza Nemessanyi in an OpEd for Reuters wrote about how businesses led by women 40+ are funded at a rate of less than 3%.

But let's just come out and say it--the focus in Silicon Valley has turned decidedly young. Interestingly, it's not only young entrepreneurs. When I worked in venture capital in the first half of the decade, it was relatively rare for a person in their late twenties or early thirties to become a venture partner. Today, most major venture firms have partners in their thirties.

Still, I thought this Valley trend didn't apply to me. I thought I was young. That is until a recent call. I was asked to do an interview with a major women's magazine doing a feature on Valley entrepreneurs. The editor interviewed me for about thirty minutes and sounded enthusiastic. There was just one final question: "How old were you when you started your company?" When I said 33 the silence was deafening.

"Oh," she said.

"Is that a problem?" I asked.

"Well, it's just that we'd prefer to write about women who started companies in their twenties. We think they're more relatable."

Ouch.

While I'm all for people, especially women, starting businesses in their twenties, I can't help but think when you start feeling old in your thirties, youth-obsession in the Valley has reached a new level.

The reality is, while there are a few standout youngins, the majority of successful entrepreneurs are out of their twenties. Even those with huge hits, like Mark Pincus, have been around the block a few times.

Giving the impression that entrepreneurship is like tricks for kids--a glossy, easy, look-everybody's-doing-it adventure - can set young people up for a very different kind of failure: failing to see that entrepreneurship is a process. One that, frankly, ages you and if you're lucky, causes you to grow up.

At least Alicia still looks young, check it out at www.aliciamorga.com

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