Chronicles of a funny country

Rants about home after working for a US company, 6 months in.

I am far from the first italian to leave my home and far from the last.

A not so famous monument in Rome recites as one of our qualities, as a people, being emigrants, and perhaps one of the greatest movies ever produced by our cinematography, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, has as one if its central themes leaving home and never looking back.

So it won’t come as a surprise that yet another Italian reflects upon leaving, the whys and hows, outcomes and resolutions, but I feel I have something at least partially new to say on this subject, being that I haven’t found, surprisingly, anything relating to a tech guy experience in this regard.

On the why

or how I hate cardboard ideas

Italy is not a rich country as it once was, and the outcome looks worse and worse every passing day, but I won’t delve in the obvious economic upside of leaving, instead I will discuss the main feeling that brought me to my decision.

I feel a deep and intense frustration every time my mind darts back to the experiences I had as a wanna-be enterpreneur in my home country.

  • Never ending meetings more about stroking the other party’s ego then anything.
  • Giant tax load
  • Small town mentality even in the highest of places and in the richest of companies

Each of these deserves it’s own post but the one that gets me the most is a more profound and omnipresent mindset that pollutes every faucet of business and instantly paralizes it and makes it internationally non-viable.

I do not have a better monicker to assign to this concept other than maybe cardboard ideas.

A cardboard idea I would say is very generally defined as a:

  • Vague concept, preferably hidden behind a foreign word
  • Devoid of meaning and usefulness
  • Makes the person using it feel both clever and important
  • Detours most of the effort behind it into nothing of value

This might seem confusing but let me give an example: startup

Startup by decree

We all know what “startup”, broadly speaking, means: a small company, preferably VC funded, just started and pursuing a new idea, whether it be a business idea or what have you.

Not in Italy it does not. The Italian people (and I won’t say government/state because it’s too easy of a scapegoat) have deemed necessary completely redefining the word and give it legal meaning.

An “”“Innovative Startup””” (whatever it may or may not mean) is defined, BY LAW, as a company that:

  • Is started by people meeting certain age/education criteria
  • Has been operating by less than 5 years
  • Spends a certain % of it’s revenue in RnD

Full stop.

Thus the word “startup” looses all it’s meaning and becomes this new well defined, for a lack of a better word, cardboard cutout of what it normally means to a sound person.

And now enter a plethora of people who’s job is to:

  • Teach courses on what an “Innovative Startup” is
  • Consult you on how to open an “Innovative Startup”
  • Run your books to see if you meet all the criteria
  • Check the criteria each year! (they get updated of course)
  • Fine you if you don’t meet the criteria anymore (OF COURSE)
  • Create a union of people starting “Innovative Startups”

And is the thing being done of any importance? Of course not! No one cares about the actual substrate of things being done, no one cares about people coding, or building machines, or doing genetic engineering or what have you, they only care about satisfying the criteria and repeating this cardboard idea ad-nauseam at every chance they get.

And lest you forget that they are Certified Innovative Startup Consultants, they’ll remind you at every meeting and every post and every coffee break.

And IDE? What? Is that a new law that passed? Yeah I heard about that sure sure!

This is how it’s done

it really isn’t and I have proof now

Now dear reader imagine this applied to every faucet of enterpreneurship and tech:

  • AI
  • IoT
  • Fintech (and all the *techs)

Everything gets twisted and corrupted into a sad imitation of what the thing actually is, and the work gets diverted into maintaing this marionette show.

I’ve seen “Innovative Startups” open shop just to hire the legally required PhDs, collect the tax breaks, put them to work in general frontend consulting jobs, and then brag on LinkedIn about being “innovators”.

And this is fine, because people in nice suits that have all the certifications and are in all the meetings always remind you that

  • I know my business this is how we do things
  • I have consulted the government on this!
  • Well I have a certification from SOANDSO University, where did you learn that?

And people nod and agree and everyone shakes hands and leaves happy, and then are surprised seeing that a French/German/British/American company in the last 3 months has tripled our market share and has better tech and better funding and better everything.

So what has my, still brief, experience abroad taught me in this regard?

It’s your fault, italian reading this, not the economy’s nor the government’s.

This is not how things are done.

There is no better way of saying this other than this.

  • No one cares about your certifications
  • No one cares about your laws and definitions
  • No one cares about cardboard ideas

Please abandon this forma mentis

As soon as you step out of you tiny little door and take a walk in the real world you’ll realize how people just do their work at their best and act with a decent level of intellectual honesty with regards to their job, and that’s it.

So what

or not investment advice

If you are not an Italian reader you probably won’t connect with my meltdown here above, but I hope a small fragment of my desperation managed to leap out of these bytes and into your head. I really would love for my people to get out this cultural empasse that has, in my opinion, destroyed my country in the last few decades (along with other factors), but I see no way out. Italian people want things to be this way, and they push for it. They prefer to live in a fake world defined by decree and that goes nowhere instead of just doing their job and seeing if it works.

And maybe I have been lucky in my abroad experience for the time being, this is possible and I consider myself someone who can easily admit wrong judgment, we’ll see.

But as long as this persists, if I had even a single dime to invest, I would not put it in my country, if not as a token of love, like a mother who congratulates the drawing of an infant child.