Tech believes children are the future

Teach them well and let them lead the way, then throw them six-figure startup sums. Meet the baby Einsteins who make Zuckerberg look old

baby on headset at laptop
Credit: iStockphoto

What were you doing when you were 13? I was busy discovering that girls weren’t disgusting after all, which led to a new appreciation for a locked bathroom door. Then there was the Dungeons & Dragons monkey that would ride my back for the next decade, an addiction fed by all the paperbacks in the fantasy and science-fiction section, as well as 10+ visits to the cineplex devoted solely to memorizing "Star Wars" and giving my Dad migraines.

In other words, I belly-flopped into the deep end of Nerd World and pre-college celibacy. What wasn’t I doing? Raising funds for my first commercial venture, for starters.

Unlike Shubham Banerjee, the teenager who took in an undisclosed six-figure infusion from Intel’s VC arm to back the startup he founded using $35,000 from his mom and a big box of Lego. Worst of all, I can't even ding Intel for yet another blindingly stupid Silicon Valley-style money bath.

The youth brigade

Banerjee’s venture consists of a low-cost Braille printer, not a useless viral phone pollution that sends “yo” messages back and forth. He expects to eventually sell the prototype he built out of -- no kidding -- a Lego variant for about $350. That’s a double-scoop of cost-effectiveness when compared to most current Braille printers, which can run as high as $4,000. Intel surprised the kid with its support because he was working to incorporate the company's Edison chip into his invention.

It makes you wonder why Microsoft isn’t showering Pakistani Briton Ayan Qureshi with money now that he’s become the youngest Microsoft Certified professional ever, with another month to go before his sixth birthday. It also makes you wonder why Microsoft Learning hasn’t published a line of pop-up books entitled "How to Pass Our Oh-So-Challenging Exams if You’re Too Young to Read."

If I were still living with Pammy, I could expect another skillet-shaped dent in my forehead and a “Slacker” tattoo on my left buttock (once I regained consciousness) in response to this news. Then again, Silicon Valley and the tech industry in general have always bowed to the mythical genius of youth, due in part to tyke-turned-tycoons like the Zuck, who was once quoted as saying, “Young people are just smarter.” I'm sure a legion of AARP members would have a word or two for him, if only we could remember where we put our reading glasses.

Although I’m pretty sure 12 has to be a new funding record, it’s not surprising with financial freaks like Zuck setting the MegaPowerballLotto VC success standard. Based on that trend, my wrinkled behind is locked out of any self-respecting VC’s office permanently. On the other hand, this VC pederasty has also resulted in big chunks of our economy going down the flusher, thanks to disasters like Crinkle, Blippy, BricaBox, and LivingSocial, as well as demon-worshipping arrogance factories like Sean Rad or Jonathan Mills.

At least the aging techie demographic won't be alone in being usurped by a never-ending line of tweeners. President Obama should be sweating, too, now that Saira Blair entered the political game this past Tuesday at the tender age of 18 as a fiscally conservative Republican with an NRA endorsement and gleeful support from the antiabortion set. She’s in the West Virginia state senate for now, but once the Zuck backs her as part of his Old People Suck initiative, she’ll surely be going for the White House in 2034. Elise Stefanik and Tom Cotton also made political news as the youngest knife fighters ever elected to Congress and the Senate, respectively, but they’re both over 30, so they probably didn’t make Zuckie’s radar.

Help the aged

I could cite other examples of ageism in sports, entertainment, fashion, and weed farming, but I’m only redundant on the weekends. The trend gives new meaning to Amber Alert, and it’s very clear: Kids are worshipped no matter how great or ridiculous their startups might be, while old farts like me will soon be placed into barrels of amniotic fluid and launched into space to make room for an even younger generation of VC dazzlers.

I’d protest, but I’m too tired and I might miss the senior's dinner discount at Applebee's. Go ahead and launch me into space. I’m OK with it as long as Pammy’s skillet stays on earth and someone promises to beam me a YouTube video of Zuckerberg’s expression the day Facebook gets flattened by a middle-schooler’s social networking epiphany.

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