…[T]hese new-agey corporate practices, along with perks like free snacks or beer on tap, are simply a misdirection from something rotten at the core. He blames worker unhappiness not just on Silicon Valley’s work culture but also on its business model—one he calls “shareholder capitalism.” The modern tech company is obsessed with growth and profit, at the expense of its employees and to the benefit of its investors. Some lucky employees might have stock options, but most don’t, and even then it’s a small percentage of the money flowing back to investors. The perks, then, function like trick mirrors, “a way to distract employees and keep them from noticing that their pockets are being picked.” David Heinemeier Hanson, father of the programming language Ruby on Rails, has called this “trickle-down workaholism” the result of “trying to compress a lifetime’s worth of work into the abbreviated timeline of a venture fund.”
Worst of all, the tech world has managed to recast this workaholism for someone else’s profit as something desirable: “hustle culture.” It’s replaced the 9-to-5 with “the 996”—that is, 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week.