“Gold’s a devilish sort of thing. You lose your sense of values and character changes entirely. Your soul stops being the same as it was before.”  – Treasure of the Sierra Madre


We work in an old building, one built in 1905 by a company founded in a tent in Fort Sutter in 1849, to supply tools to miners, get-rich-quickers. Baker & Hamilton supplied picks and shovels, knives, saws, hammers, to people inundating California in hopes of hitting it big. Despite the fact that the gold rush was over before Baker & Hamilton built our gorgeous building, the company remained, providing tools for industries far beyond the greed of dead miners. Our building still has axe-marks in the pillars, where workers tested their tools and probably lost fingers while they were at it.


Tools weren’t the only industry that benefited from greed. Transportation, hospitality (yes, that means what you think it does), and real estate all grew massively as a result of the human feeling of entitlement to a large payoff with little work. And, if we’ve learned anything about humanity over the course of our evolution it’s that, for all the trappings of our technology, we are basic, greedy, rape-y, gross, gross animals who will do as little as we can in hopes of getting as much as we can, and in this way the craftsman, the poet, the artist, the careful creator of thoughtful, beautiful things, dies.


That’s earlier than usual for a depressing digression.


So. Here we are. It’s 2016. We have the joy of working in this amazing, national historical register place, and we’re making tools.


(Bear with me; I know it’s a heavy-handed analogy.)


We’ve been making tools for decades which, in the software world, is basically since 1849. We provided the tools for the last few tech booms and, not without bruising, we’re still around, and we’re better for it. We’ve adapted our tools to the changing needs of our customers, we’ve pivoted our entire business model, we’ve continued to grow, change, adapt, and remain relevant.


We’ve seen the pets.coms and the sidecars and everything in between and, it turns out, getting comfortable slowly beats out getting rich never every day of the week. Getting comfortable is deliberate. It takes into account all the factors, including the ecosystem into which you’ve grown your business, both in the cloud and on the ground.


The first Gold Rush was responsible for huge cultural growth in San Francisco. It was also responsible for the slaying abuse of the indigenous population. Many of us, the author included, are here as a result of Gold Rush 1.0, my family arriving in Grass Valley in the mid 1800’s. Gold Rush 2.0, while less physically violent, is ideologically no different. We natives have gotten comfortable with a place, feel entitled to our place and, regardless of how comfortable and entitled we may feel to it, more entitled, more greedy people will come in and “ruin” it. They won’t care about our native lands, our quirky cafes, our sacred grounds, our museums, our humble homes. They will raze everything to their benefit without a single reservation or tax-deductible donation to preserve the place they’re destroying.


When they leave, and they will, are beginning to leave as VC funding gets smarter, it will not look the same ever again. The quality, the character, the art, the humanity, will suffer. But our gorgeous San Francisco Bay Area, with its many incarnations, has suffered worse, with worse crimes committed by the greedy than a claimed owner-move-in on a 95-year-old woman living in a rent-controlled apartment in the Mission. Regardless, we will fare better than the first residents of this gorgeous place. People looking to get rich from a start-up care as much about us as the 49ers cared about the indigenous. But, in many ways, we’re still in the wild west; we’re creating the unfathomable, we’re building the impossible, we are in the central nervous system of world-changing concepts led by brilliant people. Creativity is the coin of the realm, and the rest of the consumer world exists on the backs of a kernel of creativity – new code, a stunning painting, an amazing bass line, a pocket computer.


The only hope we have is to invest in people. Invest in creation you don’t understand. Go to live theater, pay for art. There is an arts community and a small shop in your neighborhood. If you need help finding it, ask your social network. Create something yourself; learn to respect the process of creation. Produce an event, learn an instrument, draw something. It is in this way that you will learn to put a premium on creation (and not haggle with creators). This is how we can survive this second Gold Rush without allowing our indigenous to move out, to move away, to be driven to the wilds of the world, leaving us to our accounting team with nothing to account for, our human resources with no humans.
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