Illustration: Shira Inbar

Into the Valley

Silicon Valley Destroyed Everything. Or Maybe Not.

Jessica Powell
Published in
6 min readFeb 28, 2020

This article is part of Into the Valley, a feature series from OneZero about Silicon Valley, the people who live there, and the technology they create.

InIn one of my final interviews for a job at Google, I was asked why I wanted to join the company. It was a softball question after a bunch of harder ones, the kind of thing you prep an answer for and sail right through.

It was a particularly easy question to answer back then. It was 2006, and the media was in rapture over Silicon Valley. It seemed that every week there was a new, fawning profile of a startup founder or pictures of colorful workplaces with ping pong and foosball tables.

The correct answer would have been to parrot the company’s mission statement, invoke the democratization of information, and admire our increasing ability to connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time. I could have cited de Tocqueville, or talked about the electric rush that coursed through my body the first time I coded something — a mock Martha Stewart e-commerce site that, at the point of check-out, sent you to a pastel-hued “hell” from which all the site navigation buttons intentionally disappeared.

Instead, I said the first thing that came to mind:

“Tech is so sexy right now, but someday it’ll be like cars, or other industries that we appreciate and need, but don’t fawn over. That we’re even critical of. It’s hard for me to imagine because this is all so exciting, but it will surely happen, and what an interesting transformation that will be to see.”

There was silence on the other end. It suddenly occurred to me that telling the interviewer that their hot job might one day just be a normal job was a very bad interview strategy.

Surprise! I didn’t get the job, though I did manage to land a contractor gig soon after (and then converted to full-time later on).

Fast forward 15 years, and my response — while still an ill-advised interview answer — sounds more right to me than wrong.

To read the news today, one would think Silicon Valley has been one grand marketing fraud. Snowden and mass surveillance, the…



Jessica Powell

Technophile, technophobe. Music software start-up founder. Former Google VP. Author, The Big Disruption. Fan of shochu, chocolate, and the absurd.