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Are Silicon Valley's Glory Days Over?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-too-shall-pass dept.

Businesses 335

Hugh Pickens writes "Pete Carey writes in the Mercury News that there are 'clear warning signs' that Silicon Valley has entered 'a new phase of uncertainty' in which its standing as a tech center is at risk and that decisive action by business, government and education is needed if the region is to retain its standing as the world's center of technical innovation. 'It could be that Silicon Valley has a different future coming,' says Russell Hancock. 'It's not a given that we will continue to be the epicenter of innovation.' Among the troubling indicators in the Silicon Valley Index (PDF): 90,000 jobs lost in the last two years; the influx of foreign science and engineering talent has slowed; venture capital funding has declined; per capita income is down 5 percent from 2007; and the number of people working as contractors rather than full-time employees is rising. Adding to the valley's problems is a malfunctioning state government that is shortchanging investment in education and infrastructure."

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335 comments

Fewer jobs? More H-1bs! (5, Insightful)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123848)

"90,000 jobs lost in the last two years; the influx of foreign science and engineering talent has slowed"

I keep telling these idiots that the first option you should look at when jobs are declining is to increase the importation of foreign workers but do they listen?

nnnnNOOOOOoooooooo....

Re:Fewer jobs? More H-1bs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31123952)

YES! and more offshoring. I mean, it's not like it affects anyone who matter$.

Richard Marx Stallman is a communist pedophile. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124706)

"I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children. The arguments that it causes harm seem to be based on cases which aren’t voluntary, which are then stretched by parents who are horrified by the idea that their little baby is maturing."

--Richard Stallman

Fewer jobs? More H-1bs! (2, Insightful)

joe_n_bloe (244407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124078)

The obvious next step: Ban people who don't have H-1 visas from tech jobs. There's lots of jobs at Starbucks left for lazy overeducated white guys.

shortchanging investment in education... (2, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123864)

Need that money for more prisons.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123886)

Need that money for more prisons.

We're talking about California, what money?

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123944)

There's plenty of money. It's just being squandered [sacbee.com] and mismanaged, despite the gobernator's good intentions.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124072)

Did he also cut too many taxes?

Yes money is being misspent, but you don't cut the income till you fix the problems

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124108)

Did he also cut too many taxes?

Makes it even more important to put the money you do have to good use. The principal problem here is corruption.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124146)

Cite/evidence or it didn't happen. Crying "corruption" is a lazy person's way of avoiding thinking about the problems.

Set-asides, not corruption (1)

joe_n_bloe (244407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124158)

The actual problem is the set-asides imposed by referendums. The politicians in Sacramento are lousy at budgeting, but most of the money has already been allocated by whatever special interest groups have managed to pass set-asides as ballot issues over the past three decades.

Did he also cut too many taxes?

Makes it even more important to put the money you do have to good use. The principal problem here is corruption.

Re:Set-asides, not corruption (5, Informative)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124362)

The actual problem is the set-asides imposed by referendums.

Indeed, California is suffering from too much democracy. It is especially easy to get well-meaning things (or at least things that sound well-meaning) on the ballot. People vote for them because they sound nice and the voters don't have to try to balance the state budget. This commits money to all sorts of things and prevents the government from fixing the budget. The Economist recently did an article [economist.com] on this topic that is very enlightening. As bad as politicians may be at budgeting, the voters are far, far more dangerous

Re:Set-asides, not corruption (5, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124512)

Agree completely. To further illustrate to people who don't understand what we're talking about, say some group or another puts a measure on the ballot that reads something like this:

After-school sports programs are a valuable part of youth education. They increase socialization among youth, promote general health, and combat the rise of obesity in America. In addition, studies have shown that after-school sports programs typically lower rates of violent crime in affected areas by 29 percent. At present, however, such programs are dangerously underfunded. This bill proposes that California earmark $18 million per year to promote after-school sports programs. As this money will come from the general fund, it will require no new taxes. School district administrators will be required to submit budgets to state agencies for approval of their share of the funds, to ensure full accountability to the taxpayer.

So Joe Voter reads this, goes, "Sure, my lazy-ass kid probably should get out and play sports more," and votes Yes. The bill passes.

What Joe Voter has done is take $18 million per year out of the general fund, where it could have been spent on various under-funded services in tough economic times, and earmarked it for after-school sports programs, come hell or high water. School can't afford books? At least it has an after-school sports program.

And what Joe Voter might not have even understood at the time he voted for this measure is that traditionally, after-school sports programs had been managed by local nonprofits, rather than being funded by school districts. Under the language of the new law, school administrators now have the additional administrative burden of producing a budget for after-school sports, or their share of the funding will be cut. And if they take the money but don't spend it on after-school sports, they will be called to task for "accountability." And who wrote this bill? The accounting firm who stands to gain the contract for managing the invoicing and budgeting of the after-school sports programs.

This is a totally made-up example; I don't know the specifics of any bill that resembles this one. It's just to give you an idea. But each election, California ballots have a dozen or so bills that read just like this one, and if you don't read the information carefully, it's easy to make mistakes.

Re:Set-asides, not corruption (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124640)

The big problem is that the voters have ended up removing a lot of the power of the legislature to cut spending and raise taxes. A huge percentage of the budget is fixed by voter mandate. You can say it is "tax and spend Democrats" all you want, but a lot of the budget is mandated by "X funds must be spent on Y" propositions.

FRAMING (4, Insightful)

linhares (1241614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124662)

Framing, dude. Framing.

Policies that you can't argue against without putting yourself in an inferior position:

Patriot Act-->Who wants to be labeled as unpatriot in a time of grave danger?

Accounting by Fair Values-->Who wants to support "unfair" values?

Tax Relief-->Who the hell can be against relief?

etc; ad nauseam... The problem is that examples such as these are all complex laws with hordes of pages and technicalities, yet they sound FAIR, COMMONSENSICAL, HONEST, and with CA's direct democracy [wikipedia.org], Joe Average will be sucked into this type of framing trick.

I for one have always thought that ThePirateBay.org should change its name to "OurSharedCulture.org", or "AllHumanCulture.org". I REALLY Want to see a politician screaming on TV "We gotta shut down those bloody criminals from "OurSharedCulture.org"!!

Re:Set-asides, not corruption (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124678)

There's plenty of blame all around (Personally, I vote NO on all bond measures. Period. Seems like they never get the things floated anyway), but this state government is one of the worst governments I can thin k of in history barring the obvious extreme examples. It's like they just don't care. I also blame the media- they report NONE of this, and only a few radio shows even track the shenanigans of state government, and they just get unfairly dismissed as shock jocks or something. Newspapers like the L.A. Times just act as cheerleaders for whatever numbskull schemes that Sacramento farts out.

Re:Set-asides, not corruption (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124376)

The fact that special interests are allowed to meddle with the electoral process is a perfect example of corruption. And passage of some of those referendums illustrates how that corruption has permeated the voter base.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124066)

We're talking about California, what money?

Bad joke. If California were a separate nation, it would be the eighth largest economy in the world, right after Italy and before Spain, Canada, Brazil, Russia, India, and on and on. Australia is an entire continent, and its economy is less than half the size of California's. What Californians are pissed about is that we also have some of the highest taxes in the nation, and we have no idea where that money is all going.

This is where the money went..... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124130)

welfare for illegal aliens.

Re:This is where the money went..... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124246)

Troll! GTFO!

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (4, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124156)

Thanks to the three-strikes law, yes, a vast amount of money is going into warehousing nonviolent criminals.

And thanks to proposition 13, only some people pay the taxes. Older residents (and the kids who inherit their homes) get a free ride, because, while the houses they bought for peanuts are now worth millions, they pay hardly any property tax. Meanwhile their neighbors shoulder the burden.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124266)

until governments abandon taxing wealth and tax consumption instead, you will always get inequalities like this.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (1, Insightful)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124654)

Come on, put some thinking into this: If you tax consumption, you get a different flavor of inequality: Saving money to spend it overseas is suddenly a tax break. A single man ends up paying less taxes if he doesn't marry or have children, because he has less expenses. Saving money becomes a tax break, which makes consumption drop like a rock, making the country dependent on exports.

Blanket consumption taxes are probably the worst idea out there. Thankfully, they'll never pass, because if something like that ever comes close to legislation, it'll be really easy to show most people that, under that scenario, the large majority of the population would end up paying more, while those that end up paying less are the top half percent of earners, and immigrants who send their money home.

Even a flat tax on income would be less regressive.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (2, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124658)

Our per prisoner cost is astronomical due to the prison employee unions who seem to have stolen CIA mind control tech or something. Or they just buy outTheir pensions are ridiculous and the envy of the private sector suckers who pay for it all.

And stop with the Prop 13 blame. It's BS. Jebus, even many progressive politicians here don't trot that one out anymore. Go back and look at what led up to Prop 13. It didn't form out of a vacuum. People were having to get *loans* to pay their property taxes. It is INSANE to tax people on unrealized gains!

California pulls in PLENTY of revenue, and income tax revenues have risen 800% in the past three decades.

http://www.sacbee.com/walters/story/2002341.html [sacbee.com]

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124762)

It is INSANE to tax people on unrealized gains!

That I can agree with, but it can be solved by just deferring the taxes until they realize the gains. When they sell the property, any profits they make ($selling_price - $purchase_price) should go to pay the deferred back taxes.

The result we currently have is that rich kids inheriting mansions from their parents: 1) don't have to pay property taxes on them; but 2) get to keep the windfall profits when they sell.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124504)

"What Californians are pissed about is that we also have some of the highest taxes in the nation, and we have no idea where that money is all going."

That's because Californians and Californian companies are some of the greediest mofo's on the planet.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124606)

That's because Californians and Californian companies are some of the greediest mofo's on the planet.

I think you misunderstand me. I'm not saying we're mad because we have to pay taxes. We're mad because we seem to be paying taxes into a black hole.

California has a higher gross state product than any other state. It also has the highest income taxes and state taxes. Simple math will tell you that means California's income is higher than any other state's. And yet we are cutting social services, slashing development budgets, and letting roads fall into disrepair. Our schools used to rank among the best in the nation; now they're at the bottom of the list. Meanwhile we're funding a prison industrial complex fueled by misguided laws and private interests. The problem goes far deeper than "liberal policies" or "Republican greed"... the whole state government is broken.

I'm not the only one who thinks this, either. There is a concerted effort underway right now to call a constitutional convention to reform the state constitution. Californians will probably get to vote for it in November, and if they can, they will.

Re:shortchanging investment in education... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124688)

It also has the highest income taxes and state taxes.

According to the anti-tax folks over at the Tax Foundation (who might be biased, but I don't think they have a particular reason to be on the subject of rankings), California actually ranks 5th [taxfoundation.org] in income tax, collecting $1,465 per person. The highest is Connecticut's $1,811 (New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon are the three other higher-taxing states). It ranks even lower in tax rates--- it makes it up to 5th place mostly because of its high per-capita income, rather than because of particularly high rates.

Q1 & Q209 were terrible; Q3 & Q4 were spec (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31123868)

Yeah, 2009 as a whole was terrible, but VC funding in Q3 and Q4 was way up according to the Mercury News and Techcrunch; as are help wanted postings to Craigslist.

Re:Q1 & Q209 were terrible; Q3 & Q4 were s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124546)

[Citation Needed] If one checks out CL postings for tech people in various Bay Area cities, there are a *lot* fewer positions available for tech people this year than even three months ago.

Maybe if you have a valid TS/SCI clearance and/or a CISSP certification, you might be needed by CL postings, but anything under that, good luck, as your job is in India.

Contractors will keep on rising in number (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123874)

recent years have made working freely by contracting much more easier and feasible. in addition the respect for that kind of contracting and telecommuting increased as well. bright and capable people are now more and more working freely in contract fashion rather than being tied to some company by a salary. this can only increase.

Shortchanging education??? (5, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123880)

In California? Are you serious? California has always rewarded bright, young students interested in the sciences. Here's a recent example:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jan/15/students-evacuated-school-chollas-view/ [signonsandiego.com]

Re:Shortchanging education??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124126)

California is a big place, and San Diego is certainly not "Silicon Valley" by any means.

Driving distance from San Diego to San Jose: 460 miles. That's like NYC to North Carolina

Right Wing Heaven (-1, Troll)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123896)

Gee! Does this imply that continually electing right wing governors and the like has a little bitty teenie weenie something to do with economies falling into the toilet? Could it be?

Re: Right Wing Heaven (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123978)

Does this imply that continually electing right wing governors and the like has a little bitty teenie weenie something to do with economies falling into the toilet? Could it be?

I believe you'll find it's bloated government spending that's bankrupt California. And I'd hardly call Arnie 'right wing', except perhaps by Hollywood's standards.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124284)

I doubt very much that the Hollywood entertainment conglomerates consider him to be "right wing" by any stretch of the word.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (2, Insightful)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124602)

It's a combination. It's a Democratic majority that refuse to cut any spending combined with a Republican minority that, given the California 2/3rds requirement, vetoes any tax increase. It's a deadly combo that guarantees the state will never be run in a fiscally responsible way. (i.e. insisting that inflows == outflows.)

If either party were able to fully define both tax and spending levels, the state would be better off.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (2, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124744)

For some reason you are posting from 2008. We just had the largest state tax increase in national history here in California last year. The Republicans capitulated in backroom deals, thus giving the required 2/3 majority.

We're now the highest taxed state in just about every area.

Guess what? It didn't help. It just raped an already bleeding economy in the ass.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (3, Insightful)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123988)

It is hard to know how to respond to something so utterly ignorant. Where does one start? California has not gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. That is 22 years since basic comprehension of reality is apparently beyond your grasp. The state's legislature is loopy leftist. The governor is a RINO.

As the testbed of liberal ideas, California is going the same way as its 1970's predecessor, New York City, did: into bankruptcy.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (3, Interesting)

Insightfill (554828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124092)

California is an example of the "bread and circuses" situation that happens when the population is TOO involved in direct government. When EVERYTHING is on the ballot as a proposition, bad things can happen.

In this state's case, a lot of things led to poor money situation, but two stand out: 1) when times were good, they didn't allow themselves a 'rainy day fund' and mandated that any surpluses had to be spent out. 2) Net taxes paid OUT to the federal gov. are staggering, and California is the gross highest - in 2001, their "balance of payments" [ppinys.org] figure was 58 BILLION dollars.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (2, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124408)

2) Net taxes paid OUT to the federal gov. are staggering, and California is the gross highest - in 2001, their "balance of payments" figure was 58 BILLION dollars.

Wait, doesn't that mean that the bread and circuses/Keynesian method, high immigration numbers, and social service spending is working? If they finally legalize marijuana and reform their enormous prison system, looks like they'll continue to be the top performing state economy in the US.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124510)

Is it not the population that puts EVERYTHING on the ballot. There is a lot of Astro-Turfing that goes on.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124228)

What do Presidential elections have to do with the malignancy that was Pete Wilson, or the incompetence of Arnold? Their last Democratic Governor was recalled.

California is as much an object lesson in the stupidity of Reganism as "liberal ideas" (liberal ideas like props 187, 209 and 8?).

But of course, Arnold is RINO. Even when the party of personal responsibility is in power, they are not personally responsible.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124264)

But of course, Arnold is RINO. Even when the party of personal responsibility is in power, they are not personally responsible.

Arnie married into the _Kennedies_, for Bob's sake.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124086)

Instead of just blaming Republicans or Democrats let's look at the problem. Right now in California about half the employed people are working for the government. State workers in California retire in the their 50's with a pension for life that is 90% of the average of their 3 highest paid years. Combine those 2 facts and you have the horrible malaise that is the California budget problem.

Right Wing Heaven is not Left Wing Control (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124090)

Gee! Does this imply that continually electing right wing governors and the like has a little bitty teenie weenie something to do with economies falling into the toilet?

I was thinking it had something to do with the almost entirely Democratic California state representatives who refuse to cut spending, even at the point California is at now.

But then hey, I only read what actually happens there instead of taking every possibly chance to bash one side or the other... as an independent I can call out whichever side is misbehaving instead of pretending my chosen "Side" is pure as the driven snow.

Re:Right Wing Heaven is not Left Wing Control (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124268)

In many cases, the Democratic representatives aren't permitted to cut spending. For example, many would love to shrink the prison population, but Three Strikes was passed by voter initiative, so can't be overturned by the legislature.

Re:Right Wing Heaven is not Left Wing Control (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124714)

Yeah... which is why the current Early Release Program, which will release thousands of prisoners, is causing so much controversy. Right.

Three Strikes is not the problem.

Re:Right Wing Heaven is not Left Wing Control (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124746)

It's a start, but not much of one. California needs to bring its prison spending down to reasonable levels, which requires cutting at least 30% or so of current spending.

Three Strikes is indeed the problem: it has cost California over $50 billion so far.

Re: Right Wing Heaven (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124624)

Yeah, Arnie is as right wing as a pro-environment, gay-friendly, pro-choice Republican can be.

Hooray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31123900)

Silicon Valley is going to be the new Detroit!

DAMN HIPPIES SMOKING TOO MUCH POT!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31123902)

In my time, we didn't smoke pot, we sprayed it!!

Outsource to Detroit (5, Insightful)

Yergle143 (848772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123904)

The synergy of government, university, corporation in Silicon valley
is glued there by one critical component -- the venture capital lives
down the block and they like to see how their money is spent --
daily. Perhaps others have more direct life experience but I've
definitely seen it in biotech.

As soon as the lure of big bucks goes away, tech will be a commodity
to be found in any medium sized city's office park. The cost of life in
CA is insane.

Tech sector over-concentrated into two regions... (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124166)

New England and the West Coast, due to a number of elite universities and military research labs.

Midwest region has been underdeveloped for ages. This is about time.

Re:Outsource to Detroit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124236)

True dat. COL here is horrible. I'm recruiting talent to staff an energy storage startup, and it's pretty hard to get the best and brightest to come to a place where a modest condo will run them $800K, where the public schools are drowning so they have to pony up large $ (think ~$35K/year) for their kids' private elementary schools, and where iceberg lettuce costs $3.25/head. CA is changing fast, and the trends favor leaving for less overhead-intensive locales. My locale is tending more towards the extreme wealth polarization one sees in Mexico. The middle class here is fading out and I think that's very bad for us. And yeah, tech at a certain level is becoming a commodity. I ask myself why am I knocking myself out to bring really good people in X discipline to CA when I can put my VC funds to use hiring some damn good folks in Bangalore?

Re:Outsource to Detroit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124578)

"Damn good folks in Bangalore"? That's rife with contradiction. Anyone good from Bangalore isn't in Bangalore any longer. They're in the US or Europe. The only ones left in Bangalore are the ones who can't program worth shit, and will do nothing but squander your VC funding and give you (and your capital providers) nothing in return.

Re:Outsource to Detroit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124626)

You would be surprised. Yes, there are other regions domestically where you can find tech people than India, China, NYC, or California. There are a lot of areas in the US that have surprising amounts of good people who actually would know a watt from an erg.

Take the state of Michigan for instance. Yes, they may be in worse times than the Great Depression now. But they have one resource that is vital, and isn't in short supply, and that is water. Eventually just this fact alone will be spurring growth as the aquifers that keep the golf courses in California and Nevada green get tapped out.

Don't assume that taking your business to India is going to hand you the keys to unparalleled growth. You can likely net some good returns by setting up office in some other university city (Pittsburgh, Austin, etc.) because you will almost certainly be able to nail some good people who are willing to put in the hours. Don't forget the positive PR gains, and even tax benefits. I know some cities will hand you a chunk of real estate with no taxes on it for 10-20 years if your startup is big enough.

Re:Outsource to Detroit (-1, Troll)

felipekk (1007591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124252)

My screen is 1280 pixels wide, there's no reason I need to see text that would fit in one line split into three. Don't add line breaks inside a paragraph on your comments, please.

Re:Outsource to Detroit (3, Interesting)

XorNand (517466) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124442)

Detroit? Yeah right, you need to have money to attract money.

I was previously part of a tech start-up that grew out of research at the University of Michigan. The founder tried like hell to get funding but no one would listen to someone based in the Midwest. And no VC in this state understood the industry well enough to risk the amount of capital we needed. Eventually he got the VC needed from a couple of places in the Valley, conditional that the corporate HQ be based there (so they could keep an eye on their money and handpick the leadership). So we had most of the engineering going on in Michigan while the sales/marketing/leadership rubbed elbows in Cali. It was a very inefficient system. But you had the engineers who refused to relocate to CA and the bigwigs who refused to move to the Midwest.

There was always this odd tension between the two offices. The Cali guys treated us like we were some backwater boys who didn't know how to run with the big dogs. We viewed them as pretentious mercenaries. Anyhow... I'm rambling. Point is that while I really dislike the Valley culture, I don't think that Midwest is ready to compete with it.

Look at the bigger picture (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123916)

We are all in a global recession. As such, there are no "Glory Days" for anyone anywhere. I wouldn't count Silicon Valley out just yet.

My advice? Keep your current job if you can, and suck wind like the rest of us do.

Re:Look at the bigger picture (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124162)

We are all in a global recession. As such, there are no "Glory Days" for anyone anywhere. I wouldn't count Silicon Valley out just yet.

A fair comment, but describing things globally may too generalised. What happens in Silicon Valley does not have to be the same as what happens elsewhere. One data point in the news recently: North Jersey Finds Popularity as Home for Data Centers [nytimes.com].

Re:Look at the bigger picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124766)

Data centers, ie. the actual company is probably located in Silicon Valley and needs an East Coast POP. It's still dependent on someone else to drive the growth, there is no intelligent life in North Jersey.

We never needed foreign workers (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31123918)

Actually we needed the exact opposite of H-1B, V1, B1 and all the rest. We built the tech industry without these corporate communist regulations because without them wages went up. Rising wages brought people into the field and encouraged risk.

All the federal government's interference in the US labor market has driven down wages and increased fear. It has also discouraged the best and brightest American students from entering tech. And what people seem to not understand is that Americans bring unique skills to technology. A diverse workplace is good. We had that back in the '90s. But today, we are way past that. In my office I am the only American. Mostly we have Indians. When you get over 25% Indians on a team you start to see their cultural influence. Hindus believe in a cast system where certain people are just better than others.
It starts to kill the team. And that's were I see most teams today in my company. They are Hindu teams where it matters which cast you are from more than anything else.

Re:We never needed foreign workers (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124096)

You're right about their irrational hatred Indians have of each other being a big problem in the workplace, but the bigger problem is the lack of education among the Indians. After three decades of managing software development in the area, I've found that a masters from most of the Indian schools is equivalent to about an associate degree from a US community college. Having, given your example, 25% of your employees unable to contribute really hurts the company.

Re:We never needed foreign workers (5, Insightful)

Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124404)

And what people seem to not understand is that Americans bring unique skills to technology.

Whilst I'm sure America has great education and a skilled native workforce - this kind of superiority complex isn't really doing you any favours.

I do agree with you that Governments are vaguely accountable for distoring the workforce markets at the behest of large corporations - unfortunately there isn't an easy fix for that as the deck is rather stacked against the private individual in most western economies.

We need a Caste System Too (2, Insightful)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124454)

Finally, the GOP has wised up and has set out to systematically destroy Silicon Valley and all those liberal-minded programmers and their support for leftist educators that have nothing better to do than fill the minds of children with all sorts of thoughts.

If jobs aren't outsourced to India, how can American corporations make enough money to pay executive salaries? If Silicon Valley can be broken, computer talent can be had at pennies on the dollar, so that once again we will be able to compete with India and China.

Re:We need a Caste System Too (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124564)

It's the extremely progressive state government which has caused most of the problems, but don't let any facts get past those ideological blinkers of yours.

People like *YOU* are the problem- babbling the same old talking points. Blah blah blah evul republicans blah blah blah bullshit as the whole thing comes crashing down and the state government is the only employer left standing, although they're handing out IOUs instead of paychecks. You ideologes just need to fucking die off already so the rest of us can just do what works without consulting some manifesto to make sure we maintain our political purity and precious bodily fluids.

Fuckhead.

And I'm sure you'll just assume I'm some right wing teabagger. Go ahead. You know you want to, You know you can't help it.

Re:We never needed foreign workers (2, Insightful)

rjiy (1739274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124498)

The H1B situation is mostly orthogonal to the silicon valley startup situation. Almost no startup will take the time or the effort to put people through the immigration process. So H1B's mostly only work for well established and safe companies at-least till they get a Green card (which nowadays takes more than a decade for Indians). They are competition only for Americans also wanting to work in well established and safe companies.

Re:We never needed foreign workers (0, Troll)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124734)

Thank you for your racist stereotyping. Along that same vein, whenever you get over 25% Christian people on a team, you start to see their cultural influence. Christians believe in pedophilia, serial killing, embezzling money, terrorism, and lynching minorities because they think their culture is superior. It starts to kill the team. And that's where I see most teams today in my company. PS Learn to spell, dumbass

Re:We never needed foreign workers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124764)

I call bulls**t on this. Its like saying white Americans believe they are inherently superior to African-Americans. Most Indians working in the US are from urban India where caste matters very little. I've worked in India and nobody has ever dared ask anyone their caste at my workplace. While caste discrimination is still a legitimate concern, the impression that Americans have about it is extremely inaccurate. India had put in place measures similar to affirmative action [wikipedia.org] even before the US did. Hate Indians and H1-Bs as much as you want, but please don't rationalize your hatred by spreading lies and inaccuracies about them. On a side note, IMHO, the people who whine most about H1-B, Indians,Chinese etc are those who aren't good enough to get those jobs anyway. I work with many Americans who are awesome engineers and they don't give a crap about all this. The Americans I interacted with at school were smart as hell and had no problems getting 2-3 job offers even in a recession.

Glory Days Over != new phase of uncertainty (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31123950)

#1. criticism on the poster or whoever came up with the Slashdot article title "Are Silicon Valley's Glory Days Over?" -- yes, catchy and attention getting, but jumps to conclusions.

#2. what is this article about? It's from the business side of things. They spoke with:

- chief executive officer of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network
- chief executive and president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation
- chief strategist in San Jose's Office of Economic Development
- Santa Clara County's budget director ...where's the techies? "decisive action by business, government and education is needed" -- what about technological innovation? That is the other side of the equation too other than those funding these operations.

Could be ... the "r" word? (1)

joe_n_bloe (244407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31123962)

If this stagnation and job loss was happening everywhere else in the country, we'd be in a recession.

Slowing the influx is a good thing! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124052)

> the influx of foreign science and engineering talent has slowed

That's a good thing. For many years the biggest challenge with hiring here has been with weeding through all of the Indians and Chinese with fake degrees. After hiring over four dozen Indians and about half that many Chinese, I've found that only about ten percent of them have at least an equivalent to an AA. Slowing the insurgency of useless employees would be a great help towards helping the area rebound.

Re:Slowing the influx is a good thing! (0)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124702)

For many years the biggest challenge with hiring here has been with weeding through all of the Indians and Chinese with fake degrees.

But how else is one gonna prove their qualifications for pirating CD's?

psst follow Kleiner Perkins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124120)

What is Kleiner Perkins up to these days. If they're all-in on local tech investments, I'd say SV is good to go.

Silicon Valley VCs have become risk averse (3, Interesting)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124224)

Part of the problem in Silicon Valley is that the venture capital community has become noticeably more risk averse than it was many years ago. Many (most?) firms act more like investment banks than high-risk, high-tech venture funds.

Additionally, I think the rise of social media has biased venture capital deals in strange ways, steering even more money toward social network and media whores than actual tech ventures.

Re:Silicon Valley VCs have become risk averse (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124446)

Part of the problem in Silicon Valley is that the venture capital community has become noticeably more risk averse than it was many years ago.

Looking at some of the Web startups that got funded in the 90s, I wouldn't describe the VC community of that era as "less risk averse" so much as "plain stupid." No sane person should have believed some of those businesses would go anywhere, yet VCs were playing a shell game, hoping some bigger company would come along to buy up their stake before the whole thing fell apart.

The role of venture capital should be to capitalize ventures, with the aim of creating wealth through innovation. Instead, VCs of that era were going for short-term profit, and many of them didn't seem to care what happened to their portfolio at all. As soon as they started getting impatient, they'd fire senior management and start dismantling the company in the most expedient way possible.

The glory will return if housing falls (0)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124226)

The cost of living here has been cited as a concern. The number one cost is housing. It's still too much. Don't support housing prices. Let 'em fall. California, from the first strike of "gold!" to the first rusty ghost town where the ore ran out, has always been a "boom and bust" economy. Take away the bust, and you don't have boom and bust. You have boom and fizzle. It needs to go teh schitz so that people will say, "Look, Sunshine, worldclass universities, and affordable housing. Let's start a business there".

"Blah, blah, blah taxes" from the Republicans; but you don't pay taxes unless you make money. Startups don't worry about taxes, they worry about the stuff you need to get off the ground. You need someplace cheap to crash, cheap to eat, and you need smart people crashing out in cheap apartments and eating ramen a few miles from where they're getting the world class education. JMHO, totally backed up by any real data of course.

Re:The glory will return if housing falls (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124308)

Startups don't worry about taxes, they worry about the stuff you need to get off the ground.

Evidently, you've never started a business. Taxes and bookkeeping suck up more start-up capital than you can imagine.

-jcr

Oh great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124288)

Does that mean that they're all working at cupertino working on the next iPad (Now with 25% more absorbancy!)?

malfunctioning government (1)

boguslinks (1117203) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124326)

Adding to the valley's problems is a malfunctioning state government that is shortchanging investment in education and infrastructure. Maybe part of the problem is not that the California government isn't spending enough money, but that it's spending too much.

Could also be other factors (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124350)

Laws might also play a much bigger role in something like this. Rife abuse of things like the DMCA to halt innovation for fear of lawsuits, a well known fact of a highly broken patent system would cause less of a desire to want to get too creative lest you get a court issue summoning to east Texas ( http://blog.innovators-network.org/?p=922 [innovators-network.org] ) and being sued to death. Other issues are that I have a feeling that laws like the US-VISIT Act ( http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/usv.shtm [dhs.gov] ) might cause some people to re-consider going to the US since being digitally finger printed and photo'd for just wanting to enter the country is real discouraging (and I think this info stay on file indefinitely). Lots of legal problems, rising costs of business, the recession, laws that just make you less wanted by the country as a whole and stories of people being assaulted by border guards, and that the US Customs can and do copy your laptops and all of it's private business information ( http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/appel/no-warrant-necessary-seize-your-laptop [freedom-to-tinker.com] ) possibly risking millions of dollars to your business (and don't think that a leak could never happen, they do). With all this to consider, it's less and less of a reason to want to start a business or take a business from another country and do it in places like Silicon Valley in the US.

It's the manufacturing, stupid. (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124396)

First, bypassing the "story" and a layer of blogs, is the actual report [jointventure.org].

What's really happened in Silicon Valley is that it's been hollowed out. Silicon Valley used to be a major manufacturing center. San Jose once had the highest percentage of manufacturing employees of the major US cities, something like 54%. Today, the assembly plants are gone. Most of the fabs are gone. Much of the engineering is gone. This is what happens when you "outsource". Eventually, everything moves to where the production is, including management and finance.

Part of the problem was the "dot com boom", with its fake companies and fake prosperity. That caused a major change in the culture, away from engineering and towards marketing. When the bottom fell out of the dot-com boom, most of the marketing types left. The number of twentysomethings in San Francisco dropped by half. (A friend in the club business says "and the other half are working their butts off and don't go out much.") The big name in Silicon Valley now is not HP or Intel or IBM or National Semiconductor or Fairchild. It's Google, which is an ad agency. That's a huge change in emphasis.

The innovation culture is declining. Portola Valley (a rich suburb) used to have the highest percentage of patent holders of any US community. That's dropped. There's not that much exciting innovation going on. I go to venture capital meetings, and the ideas being presented are just not very exciting. (I've heard a pitch for a social network for cats. And that made it through two rounds of filtering before I heard it.)

People are still struggling to get semiconductor line widths down, solar fab costs down, and such. But that's a grind. Mobile devices are not a fun area in which to work - the weight budget, the cost budget, the power budget, and the time budget are all very tight. The manufacturing is in Asia, anyway, and the engineering is going there. New areas aren't appearing.

There's noise about "green tech", but realistically, "green tech" is either vaporware, like the "smart grid", silly, like small windmills, or something that requires massive manufacturing, like big windmills. Five years ago, the noise was about "biotech", which doesn't employ many people.

Fewer young people in the US are going into engineering, and that's a rational decision. It's hard, it's expensive to study, your job may be outsourced, and it's now a low-status field. In 1970, lawyers and electrical engineers made about the same amount of money. That was a long time ago. On the other hand, in Asia, an EE degree puts you in the top few percent of the population in terms of income and status.

US government polices haven't really had much of an effect one way or the other on Silicon Valley, except that allowing the runup in real estate increased living costs substantially and that free trade has made outsourcing so easy.

Re:It's the manufacturing, stupid. (2, Insightful)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124700)

But the American EE competes directly with the Asian: And he makes a whole lot more. The reason outsourcing started is that the wage differentials were so massive that moving entire divisions overseas made sense: Just see how much R&D many big companies have moved to China, India, Russia and even Brazil.

If you want engineers to have the top status, you can't just wish for doctor or executive salaries: In the US, those professions are extremely overpaid when compared to the rest of the world. It's their status that needs to go down to a reasonable level, precisely by seeing enough youngsters moving into those fields to bring the market back down. Late 90s salaries are not coming back, because they were an aberration. The salaries one can get today as an engineer in the midwest are still way higher than what people of similar positions make in Europe.

Instead of protectionism, look for ways to make your country more competitive. It's the only thing that works in the long run.

Re:It's the manufacturing, stupid. (1)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124728)

I whole heartedly agree.

Back in the day manufacturing served as a launching pad and incubator for hardware designers (and kept the riff-raff from accidentally getting hired into designer positions). A few years of seeing how it's done, and how it shouldn't serves as a great foundation for a design engineer to build upon for their own designs. Those days are over. Not only can college hires expect only modest salaries, and to be the butt of Dilbert stereotypes, but just over the last couple decades they get to contend with the academia to design engineer transition with no training wheels (this can be brutal to watch).

Silicon valley has also been its own worst enemy. The exorbitant housing costs have kept many very talented folks out who simply can't afford a roof over their head, let along one over their family. There is almost an aristocracy created in Palo Alto and such of the old timers who got in at the ground level who find the modestly higher salaries there to be a boon to their locked in low mortgage. The rest who came in over the last decade or so make horrendous commutes to grinding rather than innovating jobs.

I bailed out ~4 years ago to Oregon, and while the job is a little less interesting, the standard of living and stress reduction more than make up for it. My nice house cost half what our crappy little townhouse rental would have sold for to boot (and its value has held up better too).

Three Word: Cost of Living (3, Interesting)

tyrione (134248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124450)

California was too expensive to live in back before the Dot com Boom and worse today. You have regions around the US where the cost of developing sectors of R&D are a fraction of that in Silicon Valley and would better serve spreading the talent around the US instead of concentrating it into a zone where you drown in debt while gaining experience.

I left Apple a year after my former company, NeXT, merged with Apple because the cost of living and going through a divorce was bankrupting my ass. The cost has far surpassed the cost of living adjustments and it is not worth going back.

Stick a fork in it... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124468)

1: Silicon valley has nothing that Dubai, Beijing or Bangalore has. The US allowed people to get college educations on the taxpayer's dime with a higher priority than native citizens for tier 1 universities. Giving tax breaks for offshoring allowed India, China, and other nations to have the same tech, but without the cost of R&D.

2: American companies lack of security, with the attitude of "security has no ROI" has resulted in no new stuff to be stolen by hackers and foreign intel departments.

3: The US government has given the middle finger to R&D, while allowing banks to slurp at a trough. China, Russia, and even Iran actually realize where their future is, and are putting their rupees/yuan/rubles/other currency into this. No R&D funding means no cool stuff.

4: Education. American high schools schools can teach someone how to strip a Cadillac in 30 seconds or that a 45 caliber is a better weapon than a 9mm for gangbanging, but basic knowledge for technology (calculus, differential equations) that is paid for by the government in other nations, costs 5-6 digits in student loans here.

5: Education again. American students are told that science is for nerds and dweebs, and won't get you chicks. Instead, go law and the J. D. gets you a meal ticket for life. Or go get a MBA and be a ruler of a corporation. Scientists are viewed as grunts or slaves, a completely fungible resource. Same with IT workers.

In short, the US is fucked, and Congress has absolutely zero interest in dealing with it.

Lots of shysters and bean counters pounding pavmnt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124768)

You just don't notice them under the Chuckie Cheeze cunt cap.

Schools suck in CA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124474)

The poor california school system was one of the big reasons my wife and I moved out the Bay Area several years ago. Things are worse now, I see.

That, and CA is one of the most business-unfriendly states I've ever lived in. I'd rather do a start-up in a location that's cheaper.

Re:Schools suck in CA (1)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124778)

You haven't seen what the roads are like. They've been raiding the gasoline tax for years now. Driving in San Diego is an adventure. The roads look as if they've taken a bombardment.

Newsflash: teh economy am badd!!1! (2, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124522)

Malfunctioning state government?! Cripes, man, the state government here has basically declared open warfare on anyone remaining in the state who exhibits a microgram of productivity or independence. And when questioned (by the rare few in the news media that even bother) about the sanity of their actions in such a bad economy, they pretty much come out and admit they don't give a shit about anything other than some legacy involving bunnies and unicorn farts. Nearly every professional person I know is planning on leaving as soon as they can by looking for out of state work, getting their homes cleaned up for sale, etc.

And for the record, this state spends a lot on education- nearly half the state budget. The whole thing needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the foundations. Hell, you probably want to dynamite the foundations as well. But the political brain trust will just throw more money down the black hole, and they'll sit and wonder why it didn't help, and throw some more because doing anything else is ideological heresy. Rinse and repeat until the sate declares bankruptcy or armed insurrection occurs.

The dust and the doom of the IT ... (1)

The Abused Developer (1730734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31124756)

here we are ... we preached it and now we see it; did we did something to prevent it? no. in toronto there is no job to be found without the requirements of being performed as for at least 3 persons. the norm for a java enterprise developer is to perform everything from sql query programming till javascript browser for at least 12 hours per day - heard of 16h too couple of times - often weekends. often, doing .net/c#/c++ is also on the same plate as *it is also programming pal ... are you too stupid for the industry?!*. there is no place anymore for ppl with personal and family commitments , you must submit and live owned. if you don't have the right connections so that you don't get enslaved only being a slave master aka at least *team leader* allows you to not live the misery each day ...

Three words: Republican actor governors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31124784)

What is wrong with you, California? Why do you keep electing Republican actors as governor and then wonder why your government sucks so badly?

Just how long-lasting was that acid they dosed the reservoirs with in the 60s?

First Reagan, then Ahnold. Ya gotta be kidding.

Oh, and let's not forget your other prominent actor politician, yet another Republican't, Sonny Bono.

It's the drugs, it's gotta be.

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