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Silicon Valley is feeling schizophrenic.
Part of its brain is morose. Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) are under attack. European regulators menace them, U.S. legislators threaten them, and Chinese officials simply bar them. Fears of a weak iPhone X and an irrelevant HomePod nag Apple. The best and the brightest, who flocked from investment banking in New York to consulting on airplanes to “growth hacking” in Silicon Valley, are searching for the new new thing. Denizens of the tech landscape are realizing there’s a depressing amount of truth in their embarrassing portrayal on Silicon Valley as soulless, vapid, greedy, socially awkward opportunists.
But wait. There’s another part of Silicon Valley’s brain that’s giddy with opportunity. Google and Facebook mint money. (Facebook Tuesday reported a $5 billion profit. For one quarter.) Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook graced a White House state dinner with his presence Tuesday night, is worth more than $800 billion. More, it’s a one-company version of the U.S.-China trade policy mutually assured destruction: Neither Beijing nor Washington wants to endanger Apple’s (AAPL) contractors’ hundreds of thousands of employees in China or Apple’s profits there. Thousands of Silicon Valley employees stand to become real-estate-buying millionaires when their companies go public in the coming IPO boom.
If the pendulum is swinging in Silicon Valley, it’s tough to tell which way.