I think it might be a good time to tell this one..
A few months ago we had someone from Silicon Valley at our University and he gave a talk “Silicon Valley : Origin, Present & Future“. The speaker, was affiliated with different companies within that area since a long time, and he compiled the inside story quite nicely.
Some wiki first:
What is Silicon Valley? A nickname for an area.
Where is it? South Bay portion < San Francisco Bay Area < Northern California < United States.
Known for? Home to many of world’s largest technology corporations & many start-ups
Summary of the talk now:
A few key reasons to how the place, once known as the Valley of heart’s delight, due to high concentration of orchards and flowering plants, became home to a lot of high-tech companies, were mentioned .
Lee de Forest invented the Audion and the era of Electronics began.
During World War II, Radio Research Lab ran in Harvard under Fred Terman. After the war, he returned as a Professor to Stanford , a young University at that time. He brought in more funds to the West Coast, which were granted mostly to universities on the East Coast & encouraged students to be entrepreneurs [HP was the first company developed under him.].
Computer hobby clubs, mostly run in garages, brewed many good computing ideas & later spun out many companies [Apple,HP..].
The culture of the West Coast is relatively less formal compared to the East. If someone has a good idea, he is heard, no matter his position.This too played a role.
Thus the ground was laid..
Shockley, one of the inventors of the Transistors, started his company Shockley Transistors & hired fresh graduates from Elite Institutions of the US.
It is said that he moved with a lie detector while interacting with his employees! In times when people didn’t switch jobs with that ease, 8 employees left the company and started Fairchild Semiconductors. (Look up Traitorous Eight)
Fairchild spun off companies like Intel, AMD. [nicknamed as Fairchildren 😛 ]
Intel One of the most successful semiconductor companies. Reason cited for its success was its good CEOs.
Ebay One of the first products auctioned was a broken laser pointer!
Facebook About 6k employees, more than a Billion users.
There were a few stories about the company & Steve Jobs.
The speaker said it would be great to be able to revolutionize one Industry during one’s lifetime; Jobs revolutionized many.
- Personal Computing
- Digital Animated Movies
- Music Player & Distribution
- Smart phones & Mobile computing
- Tablet computing
- Standards of Industrial Design for technology products.
But this might not be all that is to know.
Jobs’ reality distortion field a term coined for his ability to make others feel that his work was the only most important work to be done. [Look up Team FDA + VLSI Technology.]
Venture Capital companies fuel the whole of the Valley. The Sandhill road in the region has about 75 Venture capital firms located within 1.5 miles.
Critical Mass effectA phenomenon that keeps the Valley running!
- Parent hi-tech company
- Steady influx of technical talent
- Venture Capital Firms
- Angel Investors
Hardware is back.
There were not many comments about the future except for this quote:
Its hard to make predictions, especially about the future. – Niels Bohr
- Q&A with the audience
After the talk,there were some comments that one might want to work on the garages in Europe.
When asked if the next Silicon Valley could be a virtual one, the speaker said that a conversation over a cup of coffee might still be more valuable than a digital interaction.
One of the interesting things the speaker mentioned was that even though we might yearn for a favorable and healthy working environment, productivity is somewhat still higher in a challenging environment even if it were a bit unhealthy. [I wonder, really, are we so?! 😐 ]
Takeaway If one might want to play long, one might keep good intentions and play a fair game, isn’t it!