It's the Week of Cuil here at The 463. And, the focus is not so much on the search service that launched to massive public attention and less than stellar results, but on a Valley ecosystem that could spawn such an specimen.
Somehow both interestingly and stereotypically, like a scientist investigating a lost pygmy tribe in the Andes, a former Sunday Times (UK) columnist gets all anthropological as, via The Register, she describes her entry into Palo Alto as a chief strategist to her old friend who is now CEO at Cuil....
"The serenity is catching – I become conscious of my foot fall. People speak quietly, even the children. It’s beautiful, but surreal. You can’t help wondering if all the loud, crazy people have been rounded up and shipped into San Francisco."
Then there is this...
But what amazed her most was the way Tom Costello and the Cuil kids spent their $33 million in venture capital. "Lunch is ordered in every single day," she writes. "Huge fridges burst with snacks and drinks. Bowls of strawberries and muffins lie around the rest area.
"The company pays for a personal trainer and gym membership for everyone. A doctor calls round each Friday, after the weekly barbeque, to see if everyone’s in good health. Employees drift in an out at times that suit themselves."
In an attempt to earn her keep as Strategist to the CEO, she warned her college classmate that he was heading down the road to ruin. But he explained that in the Valley, that path is unavoidable.
"When I observed this [strawberry and muffin] behaviour first I was appalled and took my CEO friend aside," Carey says. "This was disastrous! His company would never succeed if he wasted money like this and didn’t crack the whip. He laughed. This is the way it works out here. You have to be nice to people."
And in the end, even Sarah Carey was sucked into the Valley's swirling vortex of profligacy. "Well, if that was the case, he could be nice to me," she says. "I wasn’t going to fly home in the back of the plane. I summoned up the audacity to ask for business class travel and was granted it without hesitation. Knowing the cost of the ticket was over €2000, which is about $5 million given the current exchange rate, I had to walk around for 15 minutes afterwards chanting 'I’m worth it. I’m worth it. I’m worth it.'"
Of course, the realities of the Valley are much more complex. Take this drive through from one famous (to those in the know) Valley wise man, philosopher and lizard king....