To Excel is to Fail

Excel is the last refuge of scoundrels and failed novelists because, in those rows and columns of numbers, in the minutiae of these formulas and calculations, and throughout the multitude of tabs and tabulations, there is falsification for the sake of professional satisfaction; to give investors — and venture capitalists, in Silicon Valley and along that stretch of Sand Hill Road — what their lying eyes want to see, and what their hearts long to believe: An avalanche of projected profits and exponential growth, a fairy tale devoid of text but overrun by figures as fictitious as any swashbuckler or super man (or Superman) contained within the pages of an action-adventure story or a comic book; a numerical narrative — a recipe for guaranteed revenues, with a pinch of sweat equity here and a dash of business planning there, followed by a dollop of guerrilla marketing and a tablespoon of Series A financing — that produces, if you will pardon this surplus of culinary metaphors, a soufflé of success.

excel_spreadsheet

The end-result is a sort of haute cuisine, a beautiful presentation of minimalist size and open deception: A sequence of rich — and richly priced — delicacies that, by a combination of Francophile diners and imperial chefs and intimidating waiters and waitresses, in an environment managed by a Parisian maître d’ of haughty disposition and erratic emotions, people pay a lot of money to leave hungry.
In contrast to Excel, at least the restaurant patrons get something.
Or: One group may enter and depart with a voracious appetite, while the other pretends to consume a meal that does not exist, from a menu that has everything but serves nothing.

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