We tend to imagine that we live in a Just World. Especially in the field of technology and startups, we want to believe that the skilled, insightful and dedicated are rewarded and the suckups and sycophants are weeded out.
But people do not sit rows on a giant spreadsheet, with the best ones easily identified via a quick “sort-by” function. We are social creatures and treat those we know and like, better than strangers. Relationships matter.
And when considering people we don’t know, we are more likely to favor people similar to ourselves, often because we share the same race, social group, alma matter, or membership in a particular group, among other qualities.
I know someone who was hired a while back in an exciting new role at a large technology company in Silicon Valley. The guy who hired him was in member of a certain fraternity and confided that he was planning to fill his entire team with fraternity alumni. 
Is this fair? No. It’s complete bullshit. Do things like this happen all the time? Yes.
You can respond to the fact that cronyism  exists in two ways:
- Rail against it as unfair and stupid. Refuse to play games or get involved in politics. Struggle to gain influence over others and limit your potential.
- Realize that this is human nature, and make it work for you. Have coffee meetings with influential people, build social capital by making great introductions, create weak ties by working at companies like Google or joining startup communities like Hacker Dojo.
When I was younger, I fell into the first camp, hoping to avoid gamesmanship and stay ‘principled’. I eventually learned that to be effective with people, you have to enter the fray. Favors, friendships, fame — these things matter if you wish to enlist the support and involvement other people.
Lest someone misunderstand this article, let me be clear: the more we can operate in a world where positions are filled with the most qualified people, the better. We should do our best to bring about this kind of a world and avoid perpetuating corrupt practices. However, I believe that by refusing to play any kind of politics, one writes oneself out of the opportunity to gain any sort of power and thus will have little ability to influence the system toward becoming better.
Play the game, but don’t let the game play you.
 Now this newly hired person could be a fantastic fit and the best qualified person for the job. But because the hiring manager indicated a clear bias for an arbitrary quality in his team, the true qualification of the entire team could be called into question.
 The appointment of friends and associates to positions of authority without regard to qualification