Silicon Valley elites are warring over who does ‘fake work’ in tech

  • Silicon Valley founders and investors are debating what constitutes real work in tech.
  • That’s amid the biggest shedding of jobs in the industry’s history.
  • Investor Keith Rabois this week said firms had over-hired engineers who do « fake work. »

If you’re not building or coding what, exactly, are you doing?

That’s the question posed by certain members of the Silicon Valley elite who are attributing layoffs to a boom-time phenomenon: over-hiring and « fake » work.

A tirade on fake work came this week from Keith Rabois, the PayPal Mafia member and technology investor.

Speaking from Miami at an event hosted by banking firm Evercore, Rabois said big tech firms had hired too many people in pursuit of the « vanity metric » of headcount. They brought on so-so, spoiled workers in order to look bigger than rivals, and to stop those workers from achieving anything useful at a competitor.

« All these people were extraneous, » Rabois said. « This has been true for a long time. The vanity metric of hiring employees was this false god in some ways. »

He charged that thousands of employees at Google and Meta were essentially kept around to do nothing.

« There’s nothing for these people to do — they’re really — it’s all fake work, » he said. « Now that’s being exposed, what do these people actually do, they go to meetings. »

The view has gained hold among rich investors and founders.

And they see mass layoffs as a chance to reset tech exceptionalism and return to the grind.