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Silicon Valley Is Just Wall Street West: Street Whispers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Silicon Valley was supposed to come out a winner from the 2008 banking crisis, as the most promising young minds redirected their energies from creating complex, dangerous securities no one needed to creating things of genuine value to society.

Not long ago, many technophiles argued the Arab spring would have been impossible without Facebook (FB - Get Report) and Twitter. Occupy Wall Street and related movements in the U.S. and Europe also embraced technology to help organize themselves and spread their message.

But there has always been another side to Silicon Valley.

Even the phrase itself was unknown to most Americans before the 1990's tech bubble that Wall Street's bankers helped inflate. In the midst of the hype linking Occupy Wall Street with Facebook, The New Yorker magazine revealed that Micah White, one of Occupy's main organizers has no Facebook account, and refers to the phenomenon as "the commercialization of friendship."

Since Facebook's disastrous initial public offering in May, the company's reputation has taken a beating. The deal was marred by a technological glitch that left many investors unsure whether or not their orders had been filled, accusations of sharing of material nonpublic information, and a 45% drop since the offering date. Rather than choosing the less conventional and more democratic "dutch auction" IPO chosen by Google (GOOG), Facebook chose a standard offering, and has proved wildly overvalued.

So, for that matter, have other giants of the supposed technology Renaissance, like Zynga (ZNGA), Groupon (GRPN) and Pandora Media (P).

The latest evidence of Wall Street's dominance of Silicon Valley can be seen in the mobile payments space. Despite all the buzz about West Coast companies like Apple (AAPL - Get Report), eBay (EBAY - Get Report)'s PayPal, Starbucks (SBUX) stealing payment processing revenues from Visa (V - Get Report), MasterCard (MA), and the big banks, there is little sign of the financial players losing out.

Take, for example, Starbucks' recent deal with Square. A big beneficiary will be JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) subsidiary ChasePaymentech, which processes all Square's payments, according to a report from Janney Capital Markets. Not surprising, since JPMorgan was an early investor in Square.

Wall Street's dominance over our culture may be waning, but we are a long way from a post-Wall Street era. It's hard, really, to imagine one.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Follow this writer on Twitter.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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