My last corporate job was running marketing for a Silicon Valley tech firm. This was long ago during the Internet boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
After a bit checking, I discovered at age 40 I was the sixth oldest out of roughly 900 employees.
Welcome to Silicon Valley.
Bloomberg's It's Tough Being Over 40 in Silicon Valley nicely captures the youth ethos of the valley. Key quote:
"Older workers are trying lawsuits, classes, makeovers—even surgery—to keep working."
Age discrimination and a preference for younger workers has always been part of the Silicon Valley - and the tech industry in general.
Tech firms and industry participants often don't even try to hide this.
The Observer's When It Comes to Age Bias, Tech Companies Don’t Even Bother to Lie covers how one tech company's CEO talked about not hiring older people in a New York Times interview.
Other examples include Mark Zuckerberg famously saying "young people are just smarter" and, one of my favorites, A list VC Vinod Khosa saying “People under 35 are the people who make change happen. People over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.”
Of course there's copious amounts of research showing these comments/beliefs are not true. But despite that, ageism, if anything, appears to be becoming even more prevalent in the tech industry.
Our interest in this, of course, is that age discrimination leads to greater levels of self-employment. The reason is simple. Often for older tech workers ageism means self-employment is their best option, and can even be their only option.
And since there are a lot of aging boomers and Gen Xers in tech, expect to see growing numbers of them ending up self-employed.