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I Have Seen The Best Minds of My Generation Destroyed by Finance

Vint Cerf

A couple of months ago, I went to dinner with a friend of the firm — a Silicon Valley VC who is kind of a big deal. He’s a computer engineer, a polyglot, and an insider on some of the biggest deals of the past 20 years. And we are bitching about how MBAs are destroying America.

“In the Fifties or Sixties, these guys would be figuring out how to put a man on the moon. Today they are moving paper from point A to point B and delivering no value. But they’re making a killing.”

Boom. Think of the technology developed in the past 100 years — the supersonic jets, the Internet, space travel, mobile phones, nuclear energy. Where are those bright minds now? Finance.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a hippy-dippy, crunchy granola, stick-it-to-the-1% deal. This is about innovation, jobs and American competitiveness. I’ve heard too many stories about smart people, brilliant people, people who can invent The Next Big Thing, who ditch the lab coat for a tour of duty on Wall Street and a few years doing highly distasteful but personally enriching work.

How can America become competitive again? Want to get the global economy on track? Banning the MBA might be good start.

We have the brainpower to develop the products that will create the jobs. There are too many engineers, physicists, chemists, and other bright folks who choose to toil in finance because they believe it is shortest route to the greatest personal gain. These aren’t people who want to be entrepreneurs and build great companies. These are people who are moving paper and skimming off the top.

Say no. Follow the path of Neil Armstrong, Vint Cerf and Jack Kilby. Who are those guys? Look ‘em up. They would have made a ton of money in finance.

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