Dear tech companies, enough of the corporate sweatshirts

Many who work at tech companies are the greatest critics of old-style corporate behavior. Yet, there they are wearing sweatshirts with their startup's name printed across their chests.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The revolution will not be televised. It will be streamed to your laptop by pirates from the outer space known as Silicon Valley.

Those nice but alien boys and (a few) girls in sweatshirts are changing everything from the way you consume to the way you think. If you still feel the need to think.

The old corporate ways are, to them, prehistoric, predatory, and preternaturally authoritarian. Around here, we skateboard. Bet they never did that at IBM.

And yet there I was at the lovely Miner Family Winery in Napa last Sunday, just needing a few tastes of their two pinots and any stray droplets of viognier.

Suddenly behind me I felt a little excessive heat. I turned and saw a man with a little spacey expression and a sweatshirt. In letters that seemed larger than his head was splayed the word "DROPBOX."

Somehow, it made the man next to me, who chewed gum through every varietal, seem more tasteful than Bryan Ferry.

I am sure that Mr. Dropbox is a very nice man and that Dropbox--the simplifier of everything complicated--will make him wealthy enough to simply buy the whole of Napa.

But the style statement slightly disturbed my palate. You go for a Sunday to Napa and all you can think of wearing is your corporate sweatshirt? (Might I add that he was not alone. He was with a girl. She was not wearing a corporate sweatshirt. She had pointy shoes. Perhaps she's a lawyer.)

Worse, it ruined any opportunity to engage him in typical, modern conversation. I couldn't exactly ask him, like a true American, where he worked.

Some might consider this sweatshirt-blaring merely a form of extreme dedication to the revolutionary cause. They will say that this was a man who clearly works so hard that all he has at hand is corporate clothing and random single-colored T-shirts.

This may well be. Yet I wondered what might have been his--and others'--inner feelings if he had walked into the winery with a sweatshirt that read, in equally large letters, "ENRON." Or, say, "HALLIBURTON." Or, perhaps even "IBM" or "GENERAL ELECTRIC."

I know that not everyone in these highly sexed, highly stylish, highly advertising-averse companies of tomorrow feels the need to stuff their brand name into the face of every passer-by or random wine-sipper.

It is surely to Mark Zuckerberg's credit that he wears such beautifully anonymous clothing, making him appear like a tousle-haired Seattle barista who reads a lot of philosophy books.

Yet one can't help thinking that some of the revolutionary standard-bearers are bearing their standards a little too forcefully.

Is it because they are looking to incite envy? Is it because they want to make clear that they will soon be very wealthy and you, well, won't? Might it be they believe potential lovers will be seduced by their corporate allegiance? Or might it be because they are so oblivious of the world that they don't see people, but merely 1s and 0s?

Please, rulers of our immediate tomorrow, go shopping. Buy something a little more subtle. You can do it online these days, you know.

 

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