So… here’s a thought generally for all of us, but specifically for those who work in the tech industry.
A week or two ago, a colleague of mine from the New Zealand tech scene passed away after battling depression and alcoholism for a number of years. This character was, by my observation, highly competent and confident. To paraphrase the thoughts of a mutual friend of ours, I only saw him when he was at a 10/10, the times he was running at 2/10 he kept things to himself it seems.
There have been, of course, social media outpourings of grief about his passing and assertions that we will all, collectively and individually, do better to support each other.
While these are laudable statements, the reality is that outside of a few notable exceptions, our industry (and I write here about the tech industry in New Zealand specifically. But more generally it applies to the tech industry globally) is one in which exclusion of all but a select few insiders, expectations of greatness at all times, and dismissal of anyone not up to scratch is the norm. We see it time and again: in the way companies treat employees, boards treat management, investors treat pretty much everyone and, yes, industry insiders treat those that have the audacity to stand up against the status quo.
The models that our industry works under (hyper-competitiveness, venture funding, a race to commercialization and eventual acquisition), and a smoke and mirrors-fuelled, marketing-driven approach all encourage this way of working. But, here’s the thing, those models are diametrically opposed to inclusivity, understanding, empathy and all the other stuff that essentially separates us from all the other creatures on earth.
So how do we take this outpouring of grief following this person’s death, and all the statements about support, and channel them into actual action? I’m not sure what the answer is, but part of it is moving from a “the winners are the heroes” model, to one that actually supports those who fail. Not a “failure is winning” attitude which is essentially a proxy to a chauvinistic and adversarial “us versus them” model, but one which actually supports everyone….
No answers, but a few questions that it would be nice to get some feedback to…. Feel free to tag others who are similarly inclined…
Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.


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