Generation Code: San Francisco’s Teen/20-Something Tech Workers

If you came of age in the ’50s, you would identified as a beatnik. In ’80s, a yuppie. In the ’90s, a slacker.

In the case of teens coming of age in the 2010s, startup coder. While many, many more of them haven’t even left home, the ones that are defining their generation are flocking to San Francisco to find their fame and fortune in the city’s latest gold rush.

The California Sunday Magazine delves into the startup culture and tells the story of a group of high school and college dropouts living together as they try to make their name in hackathons, find work in the tech industry and try to raise their own funding through VCs for their own startups. (The short answer: yes they can support themselves, with money to spare. But whether they’re the rule or the exception is debatable. As much as they’d like to believe they’re going to be a success, they also have stories about the ones that didn’t make it.)

They’re nothing like the hippies who marched against war and preached free love in Haight-Ashbury. But they’re nothing like libertarians or Gordon Gekko either.

Are they naive? Of course they are. But then again, that’s something that comes with being a 17-to-20-something.

They’re something different. They’re too young to go out with their co-workers for a drink and no matter how good their idea is, they run into problems like opening a business bank account if they’re not of age.

While the debate as to the value of college is academic (no pun intended) for anyone older than they are, it’s a very real question. If you have the skills that tech companies would pay for or an idea that a VC would want to fund, why wouldn’t you skip college and go straight into making money?

So what’s different with this generation? While past generations were dismissed by their elders and told they wait their turn for success, this generation has the ear of the entire tech industry, with investors ready to fund their next big thing with cash in hand.

Photo by David Yu/flickr.

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