Why is one startup with a product that has users, no revenue and questionable usefulness worth billions of dollars while another, with a similar product, not worth anything? The answer is, in part, a generational one, writes Silicon Valley insider Yiren Lu in the New York Times.

Lu, a computer science graduate student at Columbia University and a former intern at a number of Silicon Valley startups and established tech firms, gives a first-person account of her experience in the piece — including that of her Harvard University cohorts and computer engineer father.

Consumer apps, with their large cultural relevance, and younger, less stodgy, more exciting atmospheres, attract top talent and startup focus, Lu explains. That sexy focus causes many young, talented coders to miss the importance and drive of innovating on tech infrastructure — the expertise of tech’s old guard — that provides the foundation for companies like Facebook, Google, Wi-Fi itself and Snapchat.

Lu says she sees signs — like separate, younger divisions within older companies and startups reaching out to older tech leaders for guidance — that the useful vs. sexy divide is narrowing with the older guard and young tech talent working to find ways to make meaningful, cool products.

Source: New York Times

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