Milo Yiannopoulos has spotted the return of a virus thought extinct since the dot com crash.
Over the past year, a disease thought dormant since 2001 has become active again in London’s Tech City. Symptoms include the promiscuous abuse of words such as “senior”, “executive” and “international” and feigned embarrassment at the intergalactic grandeur of the sufferer’s job title.
Recently diagnosed suffers include an “Executive Vice President of International Business Development” (size of team managed: 7) a “Head of Global Partner Relations” (size of team managed: 2), an “International Business Relationship Manager”, (size of team managed: 4) and a “Chief Evangelist” (audience for the gospel: zero).
These are in fact all real positions, from start-ups less than five years old. I’ll spare the companies concerned further embarrassment and won’t name them. They are also, without exception, utterly ridiculous descriptions of what the people concerned do for a living, which often amounts to little more than arranging meetings with each other in overpriced Shoreditch coffee bars.
Such titles are favoured by the sort of people who get a hard-on looking at their own business cards, but who turn a blind eye to the gaping hole in their company accounts where revenues ought to be. The more preposterous their title, the less impressive they tend to come across – and the more comically hopeless their business idea.
Oh, and here’s a further, corollary trend I’ve observed in bedsit CEOs responsible for gifting the monikers: the more grandiloquent the titles awarded, the more humiliating the collapse of the holder’s previous venture.
Now, before you say anything, yes, this sickness has even taken root here at The Kernel. Take my own title, Editor-in-Chief. In chief of fucking what, you might reasonably ask. But come on: when did it become OK for companies, such as those above, employing fewer than ten people, to have “Vice Presidents”?
Honestly, someone needs to have a word with the start-up community about the inflated titles they throw around, not least because in addition to the scant evidence that they help with employee motivation, they are exposing anyone dumb enough to accept them to abject ridicule.
(Something else to bear in mind: the longer your cardboard penis extension, the greater the chances your mother will trip over it when she’s boasting about her son’s latest wheeze at the hairdresser’s.)
The aetiology of this sickness is easily traced: founders of tech start-ups have always enjoyed pompously styling themselves as “CEOs”. But share one of these silly honorifics with someone from outside the tech world and – once they’ve finished picking the vomit out of their keyboards, of course – it’ll be giggling, not reverential whispers, that you hear.