A few weeks ago I was having lunch with a friend who half-jokingly asked me if I was ready to retire yet. I half-jokingly quipped that I was well past the age of “fundable” established by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and would therefore be relocating to Puerto Rico in the near future. Jokes aside, ageism in the technology industry is a real phenomenon, and these perceptions are unfair on two counts. First, venture capitalists with any common sense do in fact frequently fund entrepreneurs of all ages, although there are more than a few seemingly without any common sense. Secondly, productivity and age are not correlated, but productivity, health, and wealth and probably are.
I took a wager with my friend that a cursory analysis of famous inventors would show no correlation of age to productivity. I wanted to minimize the distortions of the modern market on intellectual property, so I just took the first few off the list of famous inventors from the last century. I cannot claim that this is scientific or fully conclusive, but I do claim that someone owes me $20. The data is actually a little difficult to find because the USPTO database is not searchable before 1976. If someone wants to do a complete analysis of the famous or prolific inventors of the last century, I would be willing to reward you with the proceeds of my $20 wager. Suffice it to say that you would be unwise to “hire young” as some people have suggested, even if you were comfortable with breaking the law.