This is pretty much where Rome was when it began to collapse:
In 2014, Zach Dell launched a dating app called Thread. It was nearly identical to Tinder: Users created a profile, uploaded photos and swiped through potential matches.
The only twist on the formula was that Thread was restricted to university students and explicitly designed to produce relationships rather than hookups. The app’s tagline was “Stay Classy.”
Zach Dell is the son of billionaire tech magnate Michael Dell. Though he told reporters that he wasn’t relying on family money, Thread’s early investors included a number of his father’s friends, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
The app failed almost instantly. Perhaps the number of monogamy-seeking students just wasn’t large enough, or capping users at 10 matches per day limited the app’s addictiveness. It could also have been the mismatch between Thread’s chaste motto and its user experience. Users got just 70 characters to describe themselves on their profiles. Most of them resorted to catchphrases like “Hook ’em” and “Netflix is life.”
After Thread went bust, Dell moved into philanthropy with a startup called Sqwatt, which promised to deliver “low-cost sanitation solutions for the developing world.” Aside from an empty website and a promotional video with fewer than 100 views, the effort seems to have disappeared.
And yet, despite helming two failed ventures and having little work experience beyond an internship at a financial services company created to manage his father’s fortune, things seem to be working out for Zach Dell. According to his LinkedIn profile, he is now an analyst for the private equity firm Blackstone. He is 22.
America has a social mobility problem. Children born in 1940 had a 90% chance of earning more than their parents. For children born in 1984, the odds were 50-50.
Most accounts of this trend focus on the breakdown of upward mobility: It’s getting harder for the poor to become rich. But equally important is the decline of downward mobility: The rich, regardless of their intelligence, are becoming more likely to stay that way.
You know, this explains a lot: Donald Trump, Dan Lipinski, Liz Cheney, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Jared Kushner, and Hunter Biden. (also, those folks from Hyannis Port)
Get lucky with the right parents, and any sad sack can become a mover and a shaker.