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The Meanies Litmus Test: Are Sociopaths in Suits Running Silicon Valley?

People have started to notice that a lot of Silicon Valley hot shots are not particularly nice.

Meanies

Jeff Bezos’ pitiless treatment of Hachette, Steve Jobs’ need to crush adversaries and the general arrogance of so many tech titans could lead one to believe that there is something unique about the field that makes its leaders more unpleasant than everyone else. In the Hall of Fame of Really Nice People, no one would think of including Larry Ellison, Mark Cuban or even Mark Zuckerberg.

The subject of tech industry unpleasantness will be treated in a forthcoming book, The Sociopaths of Silicon Valley, by Milo Yiannopoulos, who writes for Business Insider. It will also be the subject of The Good Psychopath’s Path to Success: How to Use Your Inner Psychopath to Get the Most out of Life by Andy McNab and Kevin Dutton. Yiannopoulos thinks that a certain level of CEO-level sociopathic behavior is acceptable if you believe that “technology has the power to introduce new efficiencies and new opportunities into our world, that it is or could be a transformative power for good in the world.” But he also likes sociopaths in suits because they make life more interesting.

In his view, movie stars, athletes and politicians have all become politically correct, mealy-mouthed bores, whereas tech CEOs constantly shoot or tweet from the hip. Thus, foul-mouthed or mean-spirited CEOs provide laughs for the general public, starved for entertainment because everyone else has become so tight-lipped and polite. Well maybe not Alec Baldwin. Or Dennis Rodman. Or Lady Gaga. Or a host of Tea Party types. Or Putin. But you get the general idea.

By the way, the flippant, diversity-loathing Yiannopoulos also thinks that newsrooms should be filled with “posh,” “independently wealthy” people—and more middle-class white men—because they will be less susceptible to accepting flattery—and even bribes—from the people they write about.

About Joe Queenan

Joe Queenan is a regular contributor on business issues, corporate culture, and financial follies to Barron's and The Wall Street Journal.