Fast paced change has been the M.O. of the past few decades. As the internet expands and practically consumes media markets, those who once were the undercurrent have become the drivers.
The MTV generation is taking over. Major corporations are now being infiltrated by a nihilistic, voyeuristic, and sometimes brash new breed of executive management. Hackers, crackers, punks, and rappers are growing their roots into Corporate America, and it’s a hostile takeover.
Approaching life and business like a video game, Generation XY was programmed to collect coins. Arbitrage and market imbalances are no different than cracks or exploits in old school Nintendo and Atari games to these new execs. Movers and shakers in their mid to late 20’s liken replacing the old regime of Corporate America to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s just another cultural shift to desensitized YTMs (Young Tech Males).
But this point of view isn’t just for the boys.
“It’s gone from ass kissing, to kiss my ass.” says Rae Hoffman, a well known Internet marketing consultant. “If you’re good at what you do, you can play by your own rules and not those set up by a prehistoric establishment. The teenager who spent ten hours a day trying to beat Bowser to save the princess is the same adult who will spend ten hours a day finding ways to beat a search engine. As a teenager, they were called a slacker. In today’s technology ruled world, they’re called your boss.”
“Wearing a suit is the new punk” said a Business Development Director for a multi-billion dollar corporation who chose to remain anonymous.
“Anybody can grab a skateboard, get some tats and a mohawk or die their hair black and pretend they are a rebel, but this takes balls. It’s the ultimate middle finger.”
Conservative old money entrepreneurs have been eyeing up this generation with envy for years. Initially considered a fad (see Hackers, 1995), the trend of leveraging technology by “power users” has turned into somewhat of a corporate shenanigan. In the late 90s, Corporate America began invading places like defcon to find the best and brightest “network security experts”. Many cyberpunks quickly found themselves at high paying corporate jobs, others saw jail time, while others faded into obscurity.
Embracing change and pushing that envelope is the core of the “Cold War Baby” generation. It’s no surprise that they are currently shaking up most formal institutions, especially Corporate America. Social activism and dark overtones powered much of the media they grew up consuming. Music like Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Gangsta Rap was the soundtrack, while movies like Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Gleaming the Cube, Revenge of the Nerds, Boys N the Hood and The ‘Burbs were popular favorites.
It’s no wonder why this new type of executive has their middle finger up while creating the next neologisms.
The social and economic impact of “corporate punk” hasn’t been determined. At best, the rebellion is just social expression and their forward thinking nature will carry us past our predecessors. At worst, we will have a coup de tats of major distribution channels by 21st century digital graffiti writers.
At this point, all we can do is speculate, but we must embrace the change in the business world or we’ll end up dinosaurs losing ground to a possibly more evolved breed: The Corporate Punk.