Mark Zuckerberg was grilled. Silicon Valley took it personally.

The tech industry’s engineers and entrepreneurs saw the Facebook hearings as more than just the grilling of one of its stars.  To them, the congressional criticism against Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg felt like a referendum on the industry itself and on the social network’s growth-at-any-cost playbook that hundreds of start-ups have sought to emulate over the last decade — and that some have turned against.

“In a way, Silicon Valley is Facebook,” said Max Motschwiller, a general partner with the venture firm Meritech Capital Partners. “This is who we are. The whole identity is being challenged.” Motschwiller said the revelations about how Facebook allowed its users’ data to be mishandled amounted to a broader questioning of the ways people’s information is being used.“We’ve been beating this drum around open data and AI and a connected world and everyone having a voice and simplifying your life with new convenience,” Motschwiller said. But there were consequences, he added, such as the growing public distrust of tech giants, the threat of new legislation and the harmful ways the technology is being used. “And for the first time, everyone is saying, we can’t ignore them anymore,” Motschwiller said.


Mark Zuckerberg was grilled. Silicon Valley took it personally.