Re: Are they ignoring youth in general?
I think you make a lot of interesting points, including the notion that young, ambitious people only gradually realize that most companies don't end up as disruptive, innovative or lucrative as their founders hope. I get the sense that some people recognize that being CEO is a challenge-- but I also get the sense that a subset of this group still thinks of failure as something that happens to other people.
But perhaps the entrenpreneurial swagger makes sense, given that young techies are doing pretty well relative to other segments of the economy (particularly among recent grads). A Stanford professor wrote a book a few years back (don't remember the title, unfortunately) that basically argued it's good to fail early and often, since if you become too conditioned to success, you won't know what to do when trouble inevitable arises. I think this might apply to some of the young tech types. If you're a high achiever who rolls straight from a good college into an $80,000 job, there's a decent chance it's going to shape your relationship with success, failure and risk-taking. Likewise, if you're one of these young techies tasting legitimate failure (i.e. not just a temporary setback or a disappointing grade) for the first time, that experience is likely to reverse a lot of your attitudes too.
But even though some of these aspiring CEOs won't pan out, I think there's a good chance that the "next big thing" is being cooked up in an apartment somewhere, rather than in the board room or research lab of a major company. So if people want to shoot for the stars, that's not such a bad thing. I have mixed feelings about MBAs becoming the norm for young, ambitious IT pros, though. I mean, yeah, if your start-up grows, you'll need people with management skills, and you'll need a team of smart, highly-trained people to handle the increasing complexity, which rapidly becomes about more than just the product. But I feel like some companies have succeeded precisely because their founders didn't go to business school. Yes, all of those companies have tons of MBAs now, but at the start, many were motivated by a different set of ideals than many b-school culture encourage.