Come on, Silicon Valley, you can do better than this

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[Commentary] A new messaging app, called Yo, has created a sensation in Silicon Valley. It is being hailed as the next big thing. The amazing breakthrough? Sending the word “Yo” to a contact with just one click. This app received justifiable ridicule from Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and many others.

But some technology industry moguls are taking it seriously. Marc Andreessen wrote on Twitter that people who make light of it are missing the point; that Yo is “an instance of ‘one-bit communication’ -- a message with no content other than the fact that it exists.

My concern is that the adulation and funding that the Yo app has received will send a terribly wrong message to entrepreneurs all over the world, encouraging them to misdirect more investment into building more silly apps and other equally meaningless, mindless projects. Silicon Valley, which could be taking the lead in ridding humanity of its ills, is focused on scoring big hits by solving problems so small they can be said to be non-existent.

The venture-capital system, which fuels the technology industry’s growth, is geared towards rolling the dice in the hope of receiving returns of five to 10 times the invested capital within five or seven years. Such home runs are rare, and this has sent the system into decline, but little has changed. It’s still the silly apps that get the funding and attention.

Come on, Silicon Valley, you can do better than this