At the risk of sounding like I have IPO envy, I’m tired of hearing about all the newly-minted Facebook millionaires.
It’s not that I’m jealous of their bank balances, especially given the post-IPO fallout. I don’t need or want any of the extra goodies such resources can buy.
I’m tired of the Facebook news because, reading between the dollar signs, I see the negative impact that the IPO is likely to have on my community.
Living in Silicon Valley, I’m no stranger to IPO magic. During the dotcom boom, which was followed by the Google era, it seemed like you couldn’t open your car door without hitting a member of the nouveau riche. They arrived at open houses waving wads of cash and gleefully paid over the asking price for the 1950s ranch-style homes that they then leveled and transformed into McMansions.
We “normal” folks were supposed to be happy. After all, our property values were rising and our equity increasing.
But I wasn’t celebrating then and I’m not celebrating now.
Setting aside the warped values that such freewheeling spending may impart, and the massive inferiority complexes that are likely to plague the 20-somethings who aren’t yet millionaires, I’m concerned that my kids and my friends’ kids won’t be able to raise their families here unless they happen to be among the lucky ones who strike technology gold.
And where are the teachers, librarians, health care workers, artists and all the others who enrich our community supposed to find homes? It’s always been difficult for those with even six-figure salaries to live here. Another round of inflated housing prices surely will push us well past the tipping point.
I don’t doubt that it’s better to be part of a prospering economy than a souring one. And I truly wish the new millionaires well. But perhaps the collateral damage that such prosperity threatens should be at least a small footnote to the Facebook headlines.
With a Perspective, I’m Randee Fenner.
Randee Fenner teaches advocacy at Stanford Law School.