Silicon Valley is back, and not just in the sense that hiring managers are gouging each others' eyes out in the competition for talent, or that startups are again sprouting like kudzu, or that it's getting harder to get a table for lunch at Il Fornaio in downtown Palo Alto.
No. No. The valley is all the way back because it's relevant again in the world of pop culture, vacuous trivia and salacious rumor mongering. It's true. We matter.
Look, we had a bit of lull there. You know the complete meltdown of the U.S. economy and its lingering effects in the capital of innovation and all that. But now the valley is a national drama again. Not just a national business/technology story, which it has been all along, but a rich story, including personalities and romance and glamor and arrogance.
In that way, it feels all dot-com-bubbly again.
Today, the valley is as much People as Forbes. It's more TMZ than IPO. Now we've got gossip columnists from New York writing about us. We've got a powerful CEO posing for a glam spread in Vogue, and we've got a big-time breakup that is being treated like the latest full-on parlor game.
What do you mean, you don't know what I'm talking about?
There is an old rule in journalism: Three is a trend. And I've got my three. First there is Sam Biddle, the gossip columnist who goes by "blogger," because this is the 21st century. Biddle, who's recently written "Yahoo! (YHOO) CEO's Backyard Playhouse Is Bigger than Your Apartment" and "Mark Zuckerberg Continues Faux Humanitarian Awakening," actually is the one who got me thinking about the valley revival.
I'd read Biddle before, of course, but it wasn't until I read about Biddle in the New York Times that the wheels really started turning. Listen, Silicon Valley: When one of the most powerful newspapers in the world is writing about a gossip columnist who is writing about you, you're golden. Nobody wants to read gossip about you unless what you're doing is relevant in the first place. You know who has gossip columns written about them? People in Hollywood and Washington, D.C., and Manhattan.
If you don't know (and if you don't, pretend you do to avoid ridicule) Biddle is a writer for Valleywag, a blog that bounds through the valley like a puppy, chewing up anything it can sink its teeth into and leaving only shreds behind.
Biddle recently made a meal of the breakup of Google (GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin and 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki. Then again, who didn't make at least a light snack of it? The news was on the front page of this newspaper. Vanity Fair has pointed out that the wide coverage is "proving that Silicon Valley's high-profile players are starting to become tabloid celebrities to a certain extent."
Granted, the Brin/Wojcicki breakup lacks the drama of a Hollywood split. They're both well-liked and they handled their personal business quietly -- not even a tweet. Once the word leaked out, Brin and Wojcicki pledged to "remain good friends and partners." All of which is what relegates you to "celebrities to a certain extent" status.
Still, we'll take it. It's the closest we in the valley will get to having our very own British Royals.
Speaking of which, Marissa Mayer is early in her reign at Yahoo, but already she is being hailed as the turnaround queen who might very well save a company that was once a crown jewel, but which has been tarnished by missteps and crushing competition. So, what does she do? Sit down for a big debriefing with Business Week?
Well, yes. But besides sitting down with Bloomberg Businessweek, she also stretches out for Vogue on a wavy piece of lawn furniture (or maybe it's yard art) to produce a classic glam shot in her Saint Laurent shoes, Michael Kors dress, and with her blond hair fanned out around her head.
Not that there is anything wrong with it. Mayer, now one of the valley's richest and most powerful CEOs, can pretty much do what she wants, which is why you get rich and powerful in the first place. My point is that people care what Marissa Mayer looks like stretched out in her Saint Laurent shoes and Michael Kors dress. At least the people at Vogue are pretty sure people care.
And what clearer sign could there be that the valley is back -- and back in every possible way.
Contact Mike Cassidy at email@example.com or 408-920-5536. Follow him at Twitter.com/mikecassidy.