Cheap Google Sunglasses, Over the Top Startup Bro, and Leaning Into Tech Stereotypes

I’m undertaking a new writing challenge: write one post a day for as many days as possible based on things at my desk. This is day 2 of that challenge. 

Hanging up by my desk at work you’ll find a broken pair of Google-branded red, blue, green, and yellow sunglasses.

I first got these sunglasses when I gave a talk for Praxis at a hackathon here in Georgia. The talk was fun, but having these bestowed upon me by a Google rep was better.

These colorful cheapie sunglasses are probably one of the favorite (non-BitPay) promotional items I’ve ever received. And they’re probably the most cliche memento of the tech bubble that I have.

When Halloween rolled around that same year, they became one of the foundational elements of Over the Top Startup bro, my alter ego (or main ego, depending on who you ask).


Over the Top Startup Bro (at a conference – see the lanyards?) represents all the worst/best/most ridiculous elements of the young tech industry:

“He wants you to know how cool his startup is and that they have a ping-pong table and that they have an awesome company culture and that he’s the CEO and that he’s seventeen.

He talks fast…

He’s about to close a $100 million Series A for his latest startup idea: Uber for Halloween costumes. Are you feeling the FOMO yet?”

Over has made an appearance several times – at work and at play.


What’s funny is that this exaggeration of startup stereotypes isn’t so far from the truth. I am unreasonably young (according to some people). I do work at an audacious little tech company. And yes, I do occasionally ride scooters around an office that, yes, does have a ping-pong table. I’m a product of the Silicon Valley age to some degree.

There’s value to be had in acknowledging the cliches that do apply to you, then extrapolating out exactly how cliche they might look to others. This can give you some insight into how other people see you, and into the kind of person you might become with enough hubris or too little balance.

You could say that’s one of the values of keeping these colorful Google glasses (the core item of Startup Bro’s outfit) hanging by my desk. They remind me of the duality of what I’m doing.

On one hand, I love everything about tech startup company culture and the Silicon Valley mindset of innovation. It seeps out of my pores sometimes. But on the other, I have to take all the trappings with a grain of salt. They’re weird and temporary and joyous and arrogant and adorable. It all may not last. But I’m determined to have fun with it while it does, and to hopefully have some humility about all of this.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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