Silicon Valley in the Age of Air: What Do You Value, Freedom or Stability?
If you feel like there’s an important change in the air, you’re not alone. Astrology has a name for what you’re feeling. It’s called the Age of Air.
You may be familiar with the Age of Aquarius, which has been popular with the woo-woo crowd. The Age of Air isn’t that.
The Age of Air comes from a system for understanding history that astrologers have inherited from ancient Babylonian scientists. Babylonian scientists empirically studied correlations between changes in sky and changes on earth and determined that there is a relationship between the two.
Approximately every twenty years, they discovered, there is a shakeup in political power, but every 200 years there is a big shakeup in the way society operates. These shakeups are described by the four Aristotelian elements.
During ages of fire, conflict and will are the dominant themes.
During ages of water, togetherness and feelings are the dominant themes.
During ages of earth, the physical world and economics are the dominant themes.
During ages of air, freedom and intelligence are the dominant themes.
These shakeups correspond with times when Jupiter and Saturn appear to be in the same place in the sky. Astrologers call that the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction.
You may remember back in December 2020, the “Star of Bethlehem” conjunction was all over the news. Astrologers and academics alike agree that the Star of David probably wasn’t the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, but society was reaching for language to explain what they were feeling. Even people with no interest in astrology could feel that the joining together of these two planets felt significant.
Astrologers say that in December 2020, we were ushered from the old age of earth into the new Age of Air.
During the age of earth, conflicts were predominantly about resources. Who would have resources, and who wouldn’t? Would resources be governed by capitalism, communism, or empire?
During the age of air, conflicts will be predominantly about freedom. What does freedom mean? Who deserves to have it? What thought crimes deserve to be punished? What ideas will dominate?
There are few things more airy than internet technology. Air is as flexible, free-flowing, and incorporeal as a website.
Until now, internet technology companies have been anything but airy.
Silicon Valley internet giants have been infamous for their requirements that employees be in the same physical office at all times, while smaller startups in San Francisco have required employees to practically live together in the name of “company culture.”
Given the sharp contrast between the earthy rigidity of tech companies and their airy products, I have been fascinated to watch how the tech companies in Silicon Valley respond to the new age, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
In the Age of Air, Google’s home is everywhere.
Google has been in the news recently for their decision to extend the freedom to work remotely to their employees indefinitely.
I was especially struck by an analysis of the decision by Jason Aten in Inc. “Google’s 3-Word Plan for Returning to Work Is the Best I’ve Ever Seen.” Aten summarizes the decision in three words: “flexibility and choice.”
I can’t think of a better summary for the Age of Air at its best than flexibility and choice. And, yet, if I had made a list of the companies I thought most likely to make this change before the announcement, Google wouldn’t have been anywhere near the top of the list.
Google has invested an enormous amount of effort and money in creating a campus that is designed to make their employees never want to leave. It is full of luxurious amenities like volleyball courts and nap rooms. You can even do your laundry there. So, the decision to allow employees to work remotely is a complete reversal.
I wondered if there was something in the astrology of Google that could explain why they’ve decided to be on the cutting edge of the Age of Air rather than retreating back to the way things were before the pandemic.
Astrology of Google: Home vs. Cross-Cultural Experience
Google’s two biggest influences are its Mercury chart ruler in Virgo conjunct the IC and its sect light moon in 9th house Pisces Moon conjunct the MC.
Until now, Google has favored that 4th house chart ruler by insisting on a company culture centered on work from an office with satellite offices closely orbiting the mother ship in Mountain View.
With a sect light in the 9th house, however, learning from people who are different is a core need for Google. Tech companies as a rule come under fire for their lack of diversity. When I lived in Silicon Valley, it was common for me to go days at a time without seeing a woman who wasn’t pushing a stroller or working behind a counter at a grocery store. Google, however, has a surprisingly diverse workforce — internationally. When I lived in Mountain View I saw people in Google corporate gear speaking dozens of different languages every day. In contrast, when I am near the Intel campuses in Portland, Oregon, the only languages other than English I typically hear are Spanish, Hindi, and Urdu.
Now things are different at Google, talking about his decision to reverse course on remote work on Twitter, Google CEO Sundar Pichai expresses that 9th house moon when he cites the desire to live in different cities as a reason why Googlers might want to work remotely.
Near or far, given Google’s 4th house chart ruler, it isn’t a surprise that home is at the center of Google’s corporate culture, but why was Google so wedded to a campus in the first place, and why is it changing now?
Liberation from Venture Capital: Google’s First Uranus Square
Uranus is in Taurus in Google’s 11th house. Uranus in Taurus is revolutionizing how we relate to physical space in a way that promotes individuality. Google is expressing this by making a decision that allows its community (11th house) to work in the physical environment (Taurus) where they work best (Uranus), recognizing that different people work better in different environments.
In its natal chart, Google’s Uranus is in the 8th house in Aquarius. The 8th house is the house of other people’s money, and Steven Forrest says that Uranus comes to the place in your chart where you are going to get the worst advice.
In the early days of the company, Google was reliant on venture capital funding to survive. Despite the rhetoric about community and corporate culture, the key reason why technology companies insist that their employees work in Silicon Valley in corporate campuses is because venture capitalists in Silicon Valley want technology companies to be in Silicon Valley where they can physically keep an eye on them.
Google’s chart ruler wants to work from home, but it was blocked from this decision by its need for other people’s money (8th house). Google took its last round of funding over 20 years ago, but the way we are raised sets the tone for our future, even if it isn’t always in our best interests.
Originally, Google tried to express that 4th house Mercury by making its corporate campus a home employees would never want to leave, reversing the 9th house need for long journeys over water by bringing its employees over the water to its home campus.
Now that it is free from venture investment and faced with a work force that is used to having freedom it is undoubtedly reluctant to give up, Google is rebelling against the original requirement to keep everyone chained to a desk in Silicon Valley. As it takes what would be its first real steps into adulthood if it were human, Google is coming into its own, and fulfilling the original promise of its chart, declaring that home is everywhere.
What Will This Mean for the Future?
That’s on Google.
If Google were my client, I would tell them that finding solutions that honor the need for home and the need for wandering will be central to their identity. Consistently choosing one over the other will keep them from meeting their potential. The current solution — having a homey mothership while giving employees the freedom to fly the nest — is exactly the kind of compromise they need.