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Is Silicon Valley Reproducible?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the appalachains-have-some-nice-valleys dept.


sunil99 asks: "Paul Graham, in his latest essay, looks at the ingredients which make Silicon Valley what it is. From the essay: 'Could you reproduce Silicon Valley elsewhere, or is there something unique about it? It wouldn't be surprising if it were hard to reproduce in other countries, because you couldn't reproduce it in most of the US, either. What does it take to make [a Silicon Valley]?'. In his opinion: 'I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds'. He concludes that if a city can attract these people, it can stand a chance of replicating Silicon Valley. What do you think of Paul's opinions? If you would like some changes to the current Silicon Valley, what would those be?" While the people are an important part to the Silicon Valley experience, they are only part of the requirement. What local characteristics must also be present, even if Silicon Valley is to be duplicated on a smaller scale? What draws technology companies to a specific location?

cancel ×


Reproducible? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15406822)

Is Silicon Valley Reproducible?

Depends on how good their DRM is, I guess...

Re:Reproducible? (1)

-Brodalco- (938695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406884)

Microsoft resides in Redmond- I wouldn't worry about that. You know, China can reproduce just about anything for 3 cents a unit.

First thing's first (4, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406826)

You have to raise the price of housing...

Check (2, Funny)

weston (16146) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406854)

You have to raise the price of housing...

Well, that's going swimmingly....

Re:First thing's first (4, Interesting) (463190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407290)

Actually, you hit on a good point.

Housing was not always expensive here. When Wozniak was developing the Apple I, middle-class homes were routinesly built on 10,000 square foot lots because land was so plentiful, and blue-collar jobs could confortably pay a mortgage.

In that environment, you can imagine how a young man could dedicate two or three years to desigingin something while taking insignificant personal financial risk.

Just another reason why we CAN'T have another "silicon valley" here - living expenses prohibit one from starting a full-time garage business.

I could share a funny personal story about threatening investors to leave the valley so that I could get a cheap house and work from my garage, rather than having to take their money so I could draw a salary. I've thought about this one a bit. :)

Well if they keep on getting...... (3, Insightful)

DoraLives (622001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406830)

more and more restrictive with patents and all the rest of the current nonsense, they're going to have to find a way to create a new one, because they will have successfully snuffed the life force out of the one we have right now.

Re:Well if they keep on getting...... (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406951)

Indeed. It would also be nice if the next silicon valley was more eco-friendly, although I'm not sure if that would be entirely possible:

"While typically lauded as the engine of the high-tech global economy and a generator of wealth for millions, Silicon Valley is also home to some of the most toxic industries in the nation, and perhaps the world. Next to the nuclear industry, the production of electronics and computer components contaminates the air, land, water, and human bodies with a nearly unrivaled intensity.

"The Valley is also a site of extreme social inequality. It is home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States, yet the area has also experienced some of the greatest declines in wages for working-class residents of any city in the nation. Homes are bought and sold for millions of dollars each day, yet thousands of fully employed residents live in homeless shelters in San Jose, the self-proclaimed 'Capital of Silicon Valley.' Silicon Valley also leads the nation in the numbers of temporary workers per capita and in workforce gender inequities. Moreover, the region has an entirely non-unionized workforce and is as racially segregated as the most big urban centers."

Re:Well if they keep on getting...... (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407035)

oops, that quote was from here []

Re:Well if they keep on getting...... (1)

EndlessNameless (673105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407030)

Take a look at Atlanta and the companies who are either headquartered there or who have large facilities there.

We already have a second Silicon Valley, minus the geek name recognition.

Re:Well if they keep on getting...... (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407088)

Such as? Home Depot?

Re:Well if they keep on getting...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407289)

I said headquarters or large facilities.

HP, IBM, and BellSouth all have campuses there (BellSouth's campus is their HQ). I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to find out what HP and IBM do at those facilities (hint: it ain't tough to guess based on what I said about Atlanta before). And they aren't the only ones.

If you actually took five seconds to look into the area rather than spouting off some assinine sarcasm, you would also know about a couple of enormous technology parks.

But I guess it's easier to be an incredulous ass than it is to spend the five seconds it probably takes to google it.

Re:Well if they keep on getting...... (1)

lost in place (248578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407246)

As mentioned in Graham's article, the question isn't which companies have headquarters there or offices there --- the question is what companies were started there. I don't know Atlanta's track record, but I suspect it doesn't look quite as good by that measure.

Uhmmm... (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406838)

Isn't this like asking if the Italian Renaissance could have happened anywhere except Italy?

Re:Uhmmm... (1)

LittleBigScript (618162) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406933)

Isn't this like asking if the Italian Renaissance could have happened anywhere except Italy?

Well if it happened somewhere else, it wouldn't be italian.

Maybe Silicon Valley could be Silicon Desert or Silicon Swamp

Re:Uhmmm... (3, Insightful)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406939)

Isn't this like asking if the Italian Renaissance could have happened anywhere except Italy?

Silicon Valley is full of itself. There are serveral areas that have vibrant Tech communities besides Silicon valley, there's a whole class of nerds that want nothing to do with the fruitcake culture of the west coast. The one thing they have is "cachet", if you're clueless and rich its a hip place to go broke investing in Fedex'ing Iron ore around the world, in other areas you need a more solid plan than "I'm gonna do stuff on the intarweb".

Re:Uhmmm... (2, Insightful)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407016)

There are serveral areas that have vibrant Tech communities besides Silicon valley, there's a whole class of nerds that want nothing to do with the fruitcake culture of the west coast.

I'm not denying that there are other good places to do tech, but that's not enough for startups. It's no coincidence that of the four internet giants, three of them are in the Bay Area (with the fourth in Seattle). Best of luck to Austin or wherever you favor in coming up with the next three, but if you're looking to do an internet startup, doing it in the Bay Area will be easier.

Northern Renaissance (1)

bstadil (7110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406968)

Well the center of the Renaissance in many ways moved to Rome from Florence following the Medici's expulsion from latter and the havoc created by the French king Charles VIII.

Not to mention the Northen Renaissance [] so it is not really a good argument. Rather an argument that creative centers can be recreated and do indeed move

Willliam Shockley (3, Insightful)

Garbonzo Pitts (249836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407205)

Silicon Valley got its start because William Shockley started Shockley Transistor with people he brought from Bell Labs. They left, and started their own companies, from which other people left to start their companies, and so on, and so on.

When Shockley was looking for where to start his company it came down to Pasadena vs Palo Alto, both of which he had lived in as a child. An administrator at Stanford recognized the importance of encouraging new companies and leased Shockley space that Stanford owned. If Cal Tech had made a better offer, Si Valley might have been in Pasadena...

wrong, there's cultural element (4, Insightful)

jay2003 (668095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406847)

Nerds and rich people are not enough. Silicon Valley works because there's a culture of risk taking. Starting a company that fails is considered good expirence in Silicon Valley. In many places, such a failure would make it very difficult to find a job or ever find investors again.

Is Silicon Valley Reproducible? (1, Funny)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406914)

Is Silicon Valley Reproducible?

It does f*ck many people.. waiting for the results to come in.. :)

Re:wrong, there's cultural element (1)

Sentri (910293) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406959)

People Create Culture I know the article was long, but if you go back and read all of it the crux of the matter is that the combination of rich and nerd in critical mass happens rarely, and where it has happens, startup's bloom.

Re:wrong, there's cultural element (1)

mwheeler01 (625017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406983)

Actually you're wrong. I read an article recently (where escapes me now) that when hiring managers were asked whether they'd take a candidate who had led a startup and failed or a candidate who hadn't the majority picked the failure. The kind of person that would start a company and take a risk often has characteristics that are important to employers such as drive and ambition.

financing important (1)

JTW (11913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406870)

I think dreamers spring forth from people with well endowed bank accounts. And Nerds are a kind of natural dreamer without a bank account.

Eclectic birds of a feather flock together.

Sort of like the old feudal courts.. there were the elite and the entertainers.

Now don't carry this analogy too far.. or you'll find yourself comparing SV to a Circus.

I think Bob Crigley exposed this phenomena adequately long ago.

Northern Virginia? (2, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406879)

There is a massive influx of cash in this area because it is the seat of the gov't. Granted, it is all tax money, but that is where it flows. I don't know about the possibility of another "tech hub" like Silicon Valley.

Re:Northern Virginia? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406988)

There is a massive influx of cash in this area because it is the seat of state government. State and local governments are actively promoting duplicating Silicon Valley here because we also have the nerds at RPI, GE, Lockheed-Martin, Plug Power, Intermagnetics and others and state and local governments are used to the idea of being at the heart of commercial technology and dislike the fact that we've lost that position we've held for more than a century.

And yet they are failing (not that they're really aware of this or anything. Self delusion is remarkably easy when you buy it with other people's money).


That's easy. There already is a Silcon Valley. Why compete with what's easier to join?


Re:Northern Virginia? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407231)

I lived in Northern Virginia/D.C. area a while back. True, lots of tech companies have offices there, but it's nothing like Silicon Valley - it's all about gov't contracts, and very different motive and operating mode from those of Silicon Valley.

bulldoze and restore it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15406894)

"If you would like some changes to the current Silicon Valley, what would those be?"

gotta say, having grown up watching santa clara county turn into silicon valley, i'd have to say i'd like all the orchards back. the apricots, walnuts, prunes, almonds, apples and all the rest... and the wetlands, too.

the valley is still beautiful with the santa cruz mountains and the hamilton range (and climate, minus the smog), but it was truly spectacular before the mass of sprawl changed things.

of course, the folks living there a century ago would have preferred the almost entirely rural lanscape. but i do miss it.

I agree more dystopian than utopian (4, Insightful)

mrraven (129238) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407272)

I like my ibook as well as the next guy but the specific culture and landscape of Silicon Valley is putrid and dehumanizing. I think the real question is can high tech be produced in a more humane way. OSS seems to answer that to some extent in software, hardware may be a different question altogether. This passage from the essay Life on Margins should give all techno utopians pause to think:

"Taking a wrong turn off the walled highway, from which, through extensive work over the last several years, all landmarks have thoughtfully been concealed, I discovered the sanitized strip of North First Street in sprawling, silicon-powered San Jose. I knew about Silicon Valley, of course. Who doesn't? But I'd never been at its epicenter, surrounded by the built world it makes and is, in turn, made by. Along North First Street, mile after mile of modern office parks squat on old orchard land, the lovely, irrelevant mountains far away on either side. No humans can be seen behind the endless ranks of tinted windows or outside in the dead lakes of their windswept parking lots. Meaningless logos: UNISYS, INFORMIX, 3COM--glow like neon eyes from empty concrete faces.

All is new, clean, quiet, freshly painted, expensively landscaped. But the rows of young trees, stuck in the manicured earth as ornament, look more like famished prisoners lined up to be shot. They, and the glass box buildings, seem as untouched by life and movement as an architect's scale model. Even the brilliant sunshine can't make it look real. A single refrain is repeated in the parking lot signs: This Area Is Monitored by Video Surveillance at All Times.

In its regimentation, if not its ostentation, North First Street ironically calls to mind the old Socialist bloc, except if you recall that the ugly architecture there was mostly built to house people. (It's clear no people actually live anywhere near these buildings, they must live miles away, in suburban tracts.) Even the eternal spying generated by that now fallen system was a perverse form of employment, performed by actual human beings instead of neutral, unresistant machines.

But Silicon Valley, in spite of the reversals of recent years, is a zone of expansion, not collapse. New ground is being cleared every day. There is money here, and more is pouring in, like cement into a mold, to shape a future.

At the northern end of this long, silent no-place, atop lead-gray bunkers, the enormous white radar disks of Lockheed rise from behind a straggling line of brush, blank dish-faces turned toward the bright, generous California sky, looking for death." argins.html []

Mods (-1, Flamebait)

johansalk (818687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406905)

Can you please ignore the karma whores who hop on every Paul Graham story with their "Paul Graham is an idiot" meme? Thank you.

Changes to the current Silicon Valley (2, Insightful)

chgros (690878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406911)

If you would like some changes to the current Silicon Valley, what would those be?
More women. WAY more.

Re:Changes to the current Silicon Valley (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407133)

... Silicone Valley?

Key elements of Silicon Valley (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15406912)

As an 8 year resident of Silicon Valley, I have observed five major things that set it apart (not in any particular order).

1) Weather. Man, it is great. It may not seem important, but it matters to me a ton.
2) Smart people. The best people like to be with peers, with people who understand and think like them.
3) Borderline idealisitic mentality. Entrepreners fall under this category. Essentially the believe than you can, in fact, change things, make things better, start from nothing and create an empire.
4) Diversity. Silicon Valley is far from a mono-culture. The diversity extends well beyond the tech work force and is a part of every day life.
5) Great Universities. Stanford and Berkeley often spawn many startups that make it big (i.e. HP, SGI, Google)

The reason why this is hard to re-create is more often than not, people have to pack up and leave where they currently live and go (often) to a far away place (I moved from Ohio). It doesn't seem particularly realistic to go to a potential Silicon Valley if you can go to the real thing. Essentially, Silicon Valley as we know it today took 30+ years of the mentioned points to grow and cultivate.

IMO, to start another Silicon Valley, it would probably take 20 years and starts with an excellent university and a touch of diversity. I do think it is possible, in fact, I think it is probable that we will see similar places pop up in the world.

Re:Key elements of Silicon Valley (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407055)

I do think it is possible, in fact, I think it is probable that we will see similar places pop up in the world.

Despite my earlier post in this thread I agree with you. Just not in the US. It isn't easier to duplicate Silicon Valley in the US, it's harder, because. . .

It doesn't seem particularly realistic to go to a potential Silicon Valley if you can go to the real thing.

As I concluded that other post: "Why compete with what's easier to join?"

Now, foreign countries like China/Brazil/Hoboken have real reason to forge their own competing technology centers and one of these days one of them will pull it off. They always do. Once upon a time China was the only place to get china.


Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15406913)

Hookers and blow

Lots of things (5, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406915)

You need a culture where experimentation is rewarded and failure is treated as a normal cost of experiments. Compare bankruptcy in the US (oops, try again) to bankruptcy in Japan (your children hounded at school, people looking at you strangely for not committing suicide). Compare the fraction of engineers willing to work for a fly-by-night^Wyoung and innovative startup and get paid with lottery tickets^W^Wstock options in the US versus other countries.

There are very few things in the world like the Valley's venture capital system. Some will say "Good! Give thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that!", but the good VC firms provide a lot more than money. Professional referrals, blunt advice, and (if honestly done) supplying management teams are just part of it.

Just rich people and nerds? I can't think of a single innovative high-tech center that wasn't anchored on a world-class research university. Thereby hangs another cultural sine qua non, you have to have professors willing to start companies as opposed to growing beards and getting pompous.

Re:Lots of things (2, Funny)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407070)

You need a culture where experimentation is rewarded and failure is treated as a normal cost of experiments.

Well, that disqualifies modern business. NEXT!

Re:Lots of things (5, Insightful)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407161)

You need a culture where experimentation is rewarded and failure is treated as a normal cost of experiments. Compare bankruptcy in the US (oops, try again) to bankruptcy in Japan (your children hounded at school, people looking at you strangely for not committing suicide).

That's a good point. I would build upon it to add one other ingredient that we have here in SV that others lack: encouraging entrepreneurship not just in words, but with law. Most of us have read the stories on Slashdot over the years about contract employees who had great ideas and worked on them on their own time only to have the employer sue to take the idea & whatever practical implementation had been created.

But in California, there is a law that makes it very clear that in an employee's free time (contract, full-time, whatever), they are free to come up with ideas and launch their own companies. In fact, one of my employers had a clause in their hiring contract which stated they owned everything I would ever do. I struck the clause before signing (just crossed it out) and wrote in the margin "this is not legal in California." The HR person read it, shrugged, and said "yeah, OK." Even if I had not struck the clause, it still wouldn't have applied, because the contract cannot override law (they cannot hire me to kill people, they cannot mandate 20 hour workdays, and so on).

To wrap up, the point is this: I have created many small money-making Web sites for myself while employed with others because I can. My ideas are safe. They cannot be stolen, even when companies want to claim them for their own. This is important enough that I have chosen to NOT move to other states that do not have similar laws. I will not move to technology centers in other states (or countries) unless I feel the small guy with the good idea has solid protection.

Re:Lots of things (1, Informative)

Nexx (75873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407173)

bankruptcy in Japan (your children hounded at school, people looking at you strangely for not committing suicide)

Wow, that's so... so... 1980's. Or 1880's. Ritual suicide hasn't been a part of the business culture for at least a decade.

Momentum (1)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406917)

TFA probably simplifies somewhat; I don't think there will be a "new Silicon Valley", but I could imagine something on a smaller scale happening..

One big investor, say Google, throws a humping load of cash at the area nearby to MIT, say. A few more companies aggregate around the same area, and a certain critical mass is reached. The area starts to gain a reputation and stands out (in the way that Silicon Valley does now). Momentum increases, interest and investment in the area become sustained.

Could happen..

Already been done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15406919)

In Bangalore.

kind of.

#1 ingredient (1)

3.1415926535 (243140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406921)

Market pressure. Somebody has to want to buy your products.

Judging from the quantity of geeks... (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406923)

I would say no, since most geeks are single with little hope of polluting the gene pool.

Re:Judging from the quantity of geeks... (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406970)

I would say no, since most geeks are single with little hope of polluting the gene pool.

Is this tired old cliche really true though? I imagine most of the "geeks" in Silicon Valley were actually pretty cool guys who probably got laid a lot in school. They're generally very attractive, ride skateboards or rollerblades, and hack into mainframes in between pimpin' on their ho's. I think the idea of the traditional socially awkward "nerd" stereotype is horribly wrong and outdated. I doubt these people even exist in California*.

* Note: My view of Silicon Valley comes from movies so this may be inaccurate, but Steve Jobs is pretty good looking whereas Bill Gates is from Seattle and is ugly as fucking hell. Therefore I must only conclude that California nerds are cute.

Re:Judging from the quantity of geeks... (1)

TheAntiCrust (620345) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407116)

You're right. Geeks are cool now. The fatties still exist. But they just procreate with othe fatties.

Short Answer No (4, Insightful)

baronben (322394) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406925)

This is a huge question in economic geography (the economics of regions), and as grad student in economic geography, maybe I can at a bit.

Short answer is no. Long answer is yes with a but. Silicon Valley is the product of several interacting factors. The first is the presence of Stanford, which produces a great deal of spin off research, that locates near by so that people form Stanford can keep on interacting with the community. In a recent survey of biotech firms (in Seattle, not the Valley, but the example is still good for an example) over 75% of business owners said that continuing access to university resources was a large component of their locational decision. Stanford is important for another reason, it has a unique culture that encourages sharing of knowledge between people and firms. One of the reasons why Route 128 in Boston performs historically worse than the Valley is that its graduates are, generally, less likely to share information freely. This sharing creates what today is called "communities of learning," which allow all firms in a region to grow much faster.

The Stanford culture has created a unique culture, one that doesn't punish failure. Hell, you're expected to fail there at least a few times. No one gives money to someone who hasn't crashed at least 2 previous ventures. Its also created a pool of labor unrivalled anywhere else for what the Valley does best - software design, networking and chip design. People who are good at these locate there to be close to other people with the same interests, created a labor pool that attracts new firms looking for talented people.

This culture can't be recreated at the drop of a hat. It takes time. Sure, you can set up office space for chip designers, offer tax incentives to get firms to locate there, and sponsor high-tech grad programs at local universities, but it won't create a new Valley. It will create something else. Maybe better, most of the times worse. If anyone is interested, I expand on the subjects, but you're better off reading works by Melecki, Florida and Gertler.

Re:Short Answer No (3, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407001)

Way to leave out Berkeley ;)

But really, the universities and the national laboratories have been key in the region's history. Why else do dozens of Nobel Prize winners live here?

As for the original question, Silicon Valley has been reproduced on smaller scales in several places. Cambridge is notable, as is Beaverton (home to many companies which are often mistakenly said to be in Silicon Valley).

Re:Short Answer No (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407052)

The cultural differences between Silicon Valley and Route 128 were examined in a book by Annalee Saxenian [] . Another was the book "Sunburst" (out of print, I'm sure) that contrasted the early histories of Sun Microsystems with Apollo Computer.

As a Boston area resident, one thing I've noticed is that while our startups swing for the fences, they tend to have conservative technology plans. A common theme is to take a known technology and market, but deliver it on an emerging platform or media for a much lower price than the leaders. They also tend to stock top management with people who have spent most or all of their careers in large companies. These people turn around and start hiring like crazy to get back to their comfort zones, so you have a giant burn rate and less time to come up with something truly original. In Silicon Valley, you're more likely to see startups that are trying to create an entirely new product space, so after you hear their elevator spiel you are likely to say, "Huh? And who are your customers again?" But the VCs are used to that level of ambiguity, and a few of those turn into Google, Yahoo, Netscape.

Re:Short Answer No (3, Insightful)

baronben (322394) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407084)

this is a big difference between Boston and the Valley. New ideas coming out of MIT or Harvard - and to a lesser extent BU and BC ;) - will mostly go straight to large firms, which have the resources to support and incubate the ideas, but that won't take the risks to make it huge. This lets Boston have a great high-tech economy when times are good, but during recessions, there will be much fewer big new ideas locating in Boston because the large firms won't take the risk. This means that Boston is much more susceptible to cyclical downturns than is Silicon Valley, which usually has something else replace failed technologies.

How about just targeting rich nerds? EOM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15406928)


San Francisco is not hub of the SIlicon Valley (2, Informative)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406929)

His basic premise about nerds and rich people sounds about right. His meandering definition of a nerd attractive city is a off the mark and plain wrong with regards to San Francisco. San Francisco was not considered part of Silicon Valley until recently. Silicon Valley was typically considered to be 32 miles south of San Francisco, from Palo Alto in the north to the environs of San Jose in the south. Sprawling, faceless San Jose is definitely not a "nerd town" per his description and the neighboring towns are plain suburbia.
Most of the startups you can think of - Google, Yahoo, HP, Apple, Cisco, etc. were started in that southern area. Much fewer were started farther north or in San Francisco proper.

San Francisco is the social hub (1)

cmholm (69081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407094)

You may be spliting hairs. Back in the day, SV was just a lot of cheap land ready for tilt up concrete business parks. SF hasn't had any elbow room or cheap office space to spread out on since the Big One, which I'm sure the city fathers in places like Campbell are forever grateful. The people with the bucks were and are up in Atherton, the Oakland hills, and SF proper. Without some cultural center, the bucks are just snowbirds, and don't invest in anything but real estate.

And I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that the geeks down around Stanford and early SV were wearing ruts in the freeways up to SF and Berkeley when they wanted some action.

How to attract nerds... (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406931)

In his opinion: 'I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds'. He concludes that if a city can attract these people, it can stand a chance of replicating Silicon Valley.
Not too sure about the rich people, but I'm thinking a strip joint with Cat6 to every table would attract the nerds.....

history and other problems (4, Interesting)

barutanseijin (907617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406938)

However you want to define it, "Silicon Valley" is a product of history. That being the case there are a lot of things that went into producing what we now know as "Silicon Valley". In no particular order:

  • The Cold War. (the impetus for much basic computer research)
  • Massive investments in education from both the State of California and the US federales. (Nerds are made, not born)
  • Relatively cheap land (obviously not anymore.)
  • The youth rebellion of the '60s. (contributed in no small part to the popularity of mini/personal computers, *nix, free software, WozJobsMacintosh etc.)
  • Communications and transportation infrastructure. (Some degree of connectivity was important, but too much makes centralisation unnecessary.)

As a general principle, what was a possibility for previous generations is a possibility for us, too. Whether it's likely or not is another question.

I think the article overemphasises economic factors at the expense of the cultural and historical. Silicon Valley is history, and history is a lot more complicated than that.

Bay Area "transportation" and "communications" (1)

joe_n_bloe (244407) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407193)

Those are funny ones.

I've lived here for 3 years and visited for much longer.

The Bay Area has one of the most stubbornly backward, if not the most stubbornly backward, communications infrastructures in a major US metropolitan area. Ask someone about the "A/B" cable system. I don't know if DSL is available here everywhere or not now but there were large areas where it wasn't a couple years ago. Cellphone coverage? Sucks.

Transportation? Rush hour commutes are awful again (they were light during the dot bomb era). Mass transit? SF has "mass transit." San Jose has "mass transit." Ostensibly the East Bay has "mass transit." All the mass transit "connects." So here are some projects for you:

1) Get from somewhere in San Jose to San Francisco International Airport using mass transit ($80 cab ride from the Sikh Mafia)
2) Get from somewhere in San Francisco to San Jose International Airport using mass transit ($100+ cab ride)
3) Go from SF to some city served by Caltrain
4) Go from San Mateo (for example) to Pleasanton

1) Take bus or walk to SJ VTA light rail. (~30 min.) Take VTA to end of line at Mountain View. (~45 min.) Take Caltrain to Millbrae. (~30 min.) Take BART to airport BART terminal. (~10 min.) Take AirBART to airport. (~10 min.) Add in about an hour of waiting. Presto! 3 hours to go 45 miles! Alternatively, take something-or-other to Santa Clara Caltrain, thence to Millbrae.

2) Take busses/MUNI rail/MUNI trolley/whatever to either Caltrain or BART station. (Up to 60 min.) Take BART to Millbrae to change to Caltrain if necessary. (Another 20 min.) Take Caltrain to Santa Clara station (45 min.) Take shuttle to airport. (20 min.) Add a little under an hour of waiting, and presto! Another 3+ hour trip to go 50 miles!

3) BART connects to Caltrain at Millbrae (which is 15 miles S of SF) and is not particularly close to it anywhere else. The mindbogglingly slow N-line MUNI rail goes to the SF Caltrain station. Not much else does. So how to get to BART? That's a toughie. Hope you live downtown or in the Mission. Otherwise get out the transit map. PS It's complicated.

4) San Mateo is a 35 minute drive across the San Mateo bridge and 580 to Pleasanton. However, the Transbay bus does not get you from San Mateo to Pleasanton. Instead, you must take (if you're insane, because no one would actually do this) Caltrain to Millbrae, change to BART, and take BART *ALL THE WAY* through SF, the transbay tunnel, Oakland, San Leandro, etc., to Pleasanton. Good Lord - that would take (*figuring*) 2 hours? 2-1/2? Even better, at rush hour the train that would take you from San Mateo to Millbrae runs only every hour or so because of the express/baby bullet trains.

By way of comparison: NYC has the subway and affordable cabs - with flat rates to the airports. You can go anywhere you want in NYC on the subway and maybe a cab. You will get reamed on a cab ride here, and you can't go where you want on the mass transit....

Irvine? (2, Interesting)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406963)

I'm not an expert on the mechanics of Silicon Valley, but isn't Irvine essentially trying to achieve a Silicon Valley status? They give very ncie incentives for Tech firms, and UC Irvine partners up with many companies for R&D. I do believe it's a road towards Silicon valley.

Austin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15406981)

Sometimes referred to as the "Silicon Hills".

Besides, half the people from the Valley already moved here after they figured out houses cost 1/3 as much and there are no earthquakes.

Many Factors (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406984)

There was an article in the San Jose Mercury News, if I recall correctly, about 15 years ago, that explored this question. It examined various candidates, and looked at why they had not developed as technology birthplaces to the extent Silicon Valley has.

There were a variety of factors that could stop such development. For example, what stopped Research Triangle Park is Southern attitudes toward failure. The financial infrastructure there is dominated by Old South money and attitudes. If you start a company, and go under, you are done--you've disgraced yourself and shamed your family. You are a failure, and the banks won't finance you for a second chance.

In Silicon Valley, on the other hand, having a few failed companies under your belt isn't bad--people expect startups to fail, and you move on, more experienced, get more financing, and maybe the next one will work out better. Sometimes it does, and another great company is born.

I don't recall the details, but I think they came up with something like a dozen factors like that, and any one missing made it unlikely that a region would duplicate Silicon Valley's success, and they looked at maybe a dozen candidates, and pointed out which of the factors were missing.

As said so eloquently in TFA: (1)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15406985)

If you could get the right ten thousand people to move from Silicon Valley to Buffalo, Buffalo would become Silicon Valley.

So, in other words, no you could not be reproduced.

(I think there is still snow on the ground in Buffalo)

eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15406991)

> A lot of nerd tastes they share with the creative class in general. For example, they like well-preserved old neighborhoods instead of cookie-cutter suburbs...

Say what?!? Has he even *BEEN* in the Silicon Valley? It's ALL cookie cutter suburban sprawl... of course, it's all very expensive Italian-inspired designed suburban sprawl... The only old preserved houses are palo alto (old ladies) or berkeley (old hippies).

Possible, but it will NEVER happen elsewhere (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407009)

Where else are there 3 major airports within 50 miles of each other with a Bay between them? Where else are can you find enough land to support the millions of poorer people who live on the edges of the valley and take all the supporting jobs that the rich dont have to do, but are willing to pay someone else to do? Decent Mass-transit, Two major Colleges, a better freeway system then most places, AND better then average weather?

In short, Silicon Valley has everything good about all the other technical centers, but little of the bad. You dont have the weather issues, the traffic issues (at least not as bad as in Seattle/Redmond/Bellevue, and you dont have a population afraid to display conspicuous wealth and success in their purchases and activities.

In the Valley, there is a general assumption that with luck, education and a work ethic, it is possible to get rich relatively quick. In Seattle and other areas, if you dont work for some place like Microsoft (of late 80s-to late 90s) it is assumed that fast wealth is beyond your reach by a large part of the populi.

In the Valley, money and work = competition and lifestyle.

Re:Possible, but it will NEVER happen elsewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407104)

Where else are there 3 major airports within 50 miles of each other with a Bay between them?

There's 3 major airports within about 15 miles of each other around New York City. There's the Hudson River and multiple bays throughout the New York Area.

Re:Possible, but it will NEVER happen elsewhere (1)

jumpingfred (244629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407179)

The San Jose air port is a product of silicon valley. You are mixing cause and effect.

somewhere else (1)

OneArmedMan (606657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407012)

perhaps say, India , or China or some other place in the world , where Tech is still new and exciting and growing and a very high rate.

Silicon Hills? (3, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407023)

Austin, Texas, is known as the Silicon Hills [] because it has reproduced Silicon Valley, albeit on a smaller scale.

It also has a major research university (University of Texas), which might be a key component. It also has a good supply of risk takers, and plenty of money.

But, it also has a few things that Silicon Valley lacks. Namely, it has a better cultural scene for folks. I don't mean the high-class snobby rich folks that fit in well in California. I mean young folks, the kind that like to live someplace that is the live-music capital of the world, with two world-class music festivals, a world-class movie festival, site of the flagship whole foods, the state's only public nude beach, and plenty more to keep you busy every week.

Re:Silicon Hills? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407077)

Your post sums up exactly why I'm excited to be moving out to Austin. The culture out there is so diverse. I would much rather live in Silicon Hills than Silicon Valley any day.

Re:Silicon Hills? (1)

sauge (930823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407115)

I am a silicon valley refuge myself - moving from Sunnyvale to Austin. I can tell you - Austin is far more fun... and they have a Fry's here too!

Granted, there is no DigitalGuru bookstore - but there are a few books around.

The sea shore is maybe three hours away - the sun shines (gets a little hot in summer) - and you cannot compete with the U of T hunnies compared to what you find in the valley.

Yep - and STILL in the technology business...

P.S. Texas has no state income tax. That is a winner right there.

Re:Silicon Hills? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407125)

The state's only public nude beach?

Yeah, if you like a beach covered with 40+ year old fat hairy gay guys and used condoms and empty beer cans all over the place, sure. (Think "Eurotrip" minus Michelle Tractenburg)

But I'll give you the cultural part.

Re:Silicon Hills? (3, Interesting)

spxero (782496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407260)

Could that be a reason it hasn't flourished as well? When you have a bunch of geeks with nothing to do but get excited about tech, I bet they can do more than geeks with everything to do. Austin has its festivals, nude beach (not always a plus), and plenty to keep you busy. But silicon valley's a 3.5 hour drive to the snow, a 1 - 1.5 hour drive to the ocean, 30 min to San Fran, and 6 hours to L.A. There's plenty to do there (I was born and raised in the east bay, now I live in Texas), and from my visits to Austin, you can find close to all that near silicon valley. The music scene may not be as advertised as Austin's, but it's there.

After being in Texas, the people are just different out here. It's more laid back (except Houston), and there's a lot more of a get-it-done-when-it-gets-done feeling. I think that's what contributes to Austin's silicon hill not being as recognized. Silicon hill may erupt, but I think that the extra-curricular activities and different attitude keep it from being larger than Silicon Valley.

It's irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407036)

The world is flat now - I can sit in a room and watch an HDTV picture of people anywhere in the world, with sound, from my office, wherever that is. Doesn't that make place irrelevant? When does physical presence cease to matter?

Since you asked . . . (1)

Maradine (194191) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407038)

If you would like some changes to the current Silicon Valley, what would those be?

1. I would double the size of the East Palo Alto IKEA. Nay, triple it. I simply do not spend enough time lost in their bazillion cubic meter zipcode.

2. I would move Google and MS closer together. I know they're in mortar range, but think of the small arms possibilities!

3. I would clone Ridge Winery and place one every five miles rimming the valley. Every three to be safe.

4. All "boat track"-style sushi joints would linked by a secret underground canal system. By the time the hamachi gets around to me at Yo-yo, it feels like it's travelled forty miles anyway; let's make it formal.

5. [serious] Jazz club. [/serious] Whoa, where'd that shit come from?

6. I'd raise the speed limit on I280 from 120mph to maybe 140mph. Might as well keep up with the flow.

7. I'd raise the speed limit on 101 from 25mph to 30 or so. Honestly, who drives this piece of shit?

8. I'd make the application of "My other box is your Linux box" bumper stickers to an automobile a federal offense. No, seriously. We're *all* savvy here mate, get over it.

9. I'd give myself veto rights over anything Benchmark funds. They don't have to listen, but I'd like to be on record.

I could go on, but sooner or later the state-subsidized vino is going to kick in, and then I'll start getting unrealistic.


Re:Since you asked . . . (1)

kbob88 (951258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407156)

10. Import lots more women, especially the ones that are obviously female;

11. Hurry up and move all real business out of San Francisco, so it can achieve its destiny of being a combination freakshow theme park and retirement community for rich old liberals;

12. Build some islands in the south part of the bay, kinda like what they're doing in Dubai [] ; I mean the bay is useless down here;

13. Install giant heat lamps over the valley for the evenings when it gets kinda chilly;

14. Move a real baseball, basketball, or football team to San Jose;

15. Put the TGV or Japanese Bullet Train on Caltrain's route;

16. Put taquerias on every corner (no wait, we've already got that);

17. Make bragging about your startup a felony for anyone under the age of 30;

18. Secede from JesusLand.

How about (1)

WoLpH (699064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407039)

Silicon Valley North []

India (1)

Alt_Cognito (462081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407040)

I don't know if there is anywhere in India that can match Silicon Valley -- yet, but I can tell you that it is inevitable short of some sort of collapse in Indian technology output. Does it diminish what they've accomplished in SV? Nah. Everybody should get their shot.

Re:India (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407108)

Nah, not in India. They lack the killer instinct. They play cricket. They want to be respected and called gentlemen rather than winners. India has the second largest muslim population in the world, and even the muslims there dont become suicide bombers or end up in gitmo. It is a very mild mannered nation. Destined to produce the nerds and supply them to other Silicon Valleys of the world.

Re:India and Cricket (1)

PigIronBob (885337) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407195)

What's wrong with Cricket?

Superbowl Champions Pittsburgh (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407054)

OK, they got nerds and rich VCs. But did they win any Superbowls? We won it five times. GO STEELERS

Re:Superbowl Champions Pittsburgh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407191)

The article seems to imply San Francisco is part of Silicon Valley. If so...ahem...

Re:Superbowl Champions Pittsburgh (1)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407238)

Though San Francisco isn't part of Silicon Valley, the Niners might as well be called the Santa Clara 49ers. The team has a lot of facilities down in the South Bay, and I would guess the majority of fans are down here too. So to answer your question, yes, we have won Super Bowls. 5 in fact, without losing any.

PS - The Niners got to five first. Nyah nyah nyah.

You need relaxed employment regulation (2, Insightful)

Peyna (14792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407059)

Part of the reason Silicon Valley was able to do what it did, is because non-compete clauses are unforceable there, so employees were free to move between companies at will. It worked pretty good.

You keep saying that word... (1)

floorpie (20816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407080)

As someone who grew up in the Silicon Valley and went to school there, it sounds like Paul Graham hasn't really spent much time there. He describes a lot of new upcoming tech areas like Portland or Seattle or Boston or wherever... but those are SO NOT SILLICON VALLEY. Heck, even San Francisco isn't Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley is suburban sprawl, and all housing in the past few decades is cookie cutter developments. It's also impossible to survive without a car, and a "short" trip is 30 minutes away, with some freeway in-between. It sounds like he's only visited San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Berkeley, rather than the rest of Silicon Valley. Try San Jose, Santa Clara, or Cupertino, or Milpitas and you'll realise that Sillicon Valley is nothing like Paul Graham describes.

Re:You keep saying that word... (1)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407296)

Yeah, I think he lost his credibility when he talked about this mythical new Silicon Valley as having a center. There is no center in Silicon Valley! I would say the "center" of San Jose is dead, but that would imply it was alive at some point. Other than that, you basically have a bunch of suburbs all the way up the penninsula.

Another big point that irked me was when he talked about youth not wanting to go to a place with "traditional values." If he wanted a counterexample, he just had to look over the hill at Santa Cruz. Take conservative old town, add university, wait a few decades... tada, you've got a hippie beach town.

Yes, in New England (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407082)

There already is a smaller scale version of Silicon Valley roughly centered on Boston, Massachusetts. The partial circle defined by Route 128 (and to a lesser extent the larger one surrounding it defined by Route 495) has most of the required properties already. Heck, it even has the same elevated levels of Asperger's Syndrome that Silicon Valley has.

Quality of Living is a factor too (1)

kbob88 (951258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407087)

Things like Stanford, a culture that doesn't slam failing and encourages you to try again, and loads of available cash contribute a lot to making Silicon Valley a success.

But don't forget the very good quality of life in the Bay Area, and especially the South Bay / Peninsula. The climate is very good. It's pretty. There's a lot to do, culturally and outdoors. People want to live here. That helps in several ways:

  • Stanford and Berkeley grads want to stay
  • Other people want to move and live here
  • People will create opportunities for themselves to stay in the area
  • People will stay after they've failed and try again, instead of moving away
  • Rich, successful people want to stay; and then they invest close to home

Plopping a top research university and cash into Detroit won't necessarily duplicate SV there. Once people become slightly successful, they'll move away. That sets you back.

That being said, astronomical housing prices are probably dampening this argument a bit, but not much. We're all still here; just grumbling more about the prices.

Wrong Wrong Wrong and Wrong (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407090)

The thing that made silicon valley was neither money nor nerds. In fact, when it started out it didn't have much of either. The thing that really made silicon valley was Non Proprietary Technology. That is what made it. That is All that made it. The rest followed naturally.

The regulatory environment in California (back then), the free market economy (back then), and engineers that were willing to walk out the door and not put up with the corporate overloards that got greedy and tried to fence off the technology they developed from the rest of the world. All combined to create a technology meca free from proprietary controll.

The truth is that any geography and any nation that is willing to embrace liberty, and throw off the proprietary crap attitude will have what it takes to succede. Chances are that they won't though, because when most of them look at thechnology they look at the means (tech and money) as the end in itself, when the end in itself is really liberty and independence from controll, be it political, financial, or technological.

Not just NON-prop - also off-topic prop. (2, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407208)

The thing that made silicon valley was neither money nor nerds. In fact, when it started out it didn't have much of either. The thing that really made silicon valley was Non Proprietary Technology. That is what made it. That is All that made it. The rest followed naturally.

But you can do "Non Proprietary Technology" anywhere. So why is there only one Silicon Valley?

Because there's another (related) item - and it's a BIG one:

Callifornia law - then and now - had a zinger on inventions:

If you invent something that is NOT in your employer's current or forseeable line of business, do it on your own time, and don't use company equipment and materials, it's YOURS.

No matter WHAT your employment agreement says: It's "against public policy" to let your employer grab your idea and sit on it if you wnat to develop it. And California interprets this VERY much in favor of the employee - so even if it's in the same field (sometimes even if it enables direct competition only a little while later) - the employer is S.O.L.

Write up a business plan, move across the street, and hang out your shingle.

Which key people do all the time - sometimes repeatedly, until one of their ideas catches fire.

THAT is the "Engine of Creation" behind the explosion of startups in California, and why Silicon Valley hasn't been successfully cloned in any of several other sites that have all of its other desirable characteristics.

Want to try to clone up a Silicon Valley in YOUR state? (Tried a few times with no success?) Start by cloning that law.

Silicon Valley: location and history (1)

neuroinf (584577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407135)

Sure, the weather is great. My take on it is that during the Great Depression people headed West. Those with the greatest energy, the greatest optimism and the most desperation made it across the desert all the way to Silicon Valley. They are the essential ingredient that actually helped create those Universities. So first, you need a great depression, then add sunlight.

sure, just look in other fields (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407136)

There are other places which are trying to make a name for themselves in biology, nanotechnology and I'm sure plenty of other fields.

The best example I can think of is San Diego and bio research. You've got more than enough rich people, plenty of smart people and whole lot of institutes, businesses and academic centers. The locals are into it and to top it off, you've also got an insane housing market, but lots of room to build. That's not to say San Diego is the Silicon Valley of biology, but it's not hard to imagine it becoming such a place in 10 or 20 years.

At this point, you can't reproduce Silicon Valley, what's done is done. It's not absurd to imagine what went on there going on elsewhere though.

What's the big deal about Silicon Valley? (1)

stox (131684) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407155)

Far more earth shaking inventions have come from Northern New Jersey. I'm still waiting for Silicon Valley to catch up. eg. Light Bulb, Transistor, Golf Tee.

Silicon Valley vs. Austin (3, Insightful)

Temkin (112574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407168)

Having lived/worked in both, Austin seems to have some of the pieces. Throw in a bit of rich wildcatter oilman mentallity, and you're almost there. Sadly, The difference seems to be in the colleges. In the SF Bay area, you have Stanford, Berkeley, Santa Clara U., SJ State, Hayward state, SF state, and if you stretch a bit UC Davis and Sonoma state. Round this out with a first rate community college system, and it's a nerd factory. In Austin, UT is a good anchor, but it almost stands alone. St. Edwards, San Marcos state, and ACC don't fill the gaps anywhere near like the second/third string colleges in the SF Bay.

Oh... and the weather in Austin is just terrible. Riding your bike on loop 360 is just tortures the eyes and the body. Anyone that told you that Austin has a lake kind of like lake Shasta 20 minutes from downtown is just lying to you. Trust me... Y'all would just hate it.

Silicon Valley North? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407176)

Well, 12% of the economy of Canada's capital (Ottawa) is based on the High Tech Sector. Maybe this is why they call it Silicon Valley North?

Keep in mind that about half of the jobs here are government ones, too, so you could say that the 12% figure is artificially low, too.

Dell just added a thousand jobs to their call centre here because of all the highly qualified tech people who lost their jobs after the tech bubble burst.

You know...

Just sayin'.

- RG>

2 Examples of Attempts: Sweden & S Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407187)


For a SUCCESFUL example, I'd point to Kista (near Stockholm), Sweden,
with a very high density of neat, high-tech companies & start-ups -
complete with a nice red Swedish farm house (possibly a 'dagis' - or
child-care facility - at one of the entrances).


For an expensive DISASTER, try South Australia's defunct Multi-Function Polis (MFP).
After closures of the likes of Motorola, etc. it's now home of a call-centre, golf-
course and a residential development, known as "Mawson Lakes."

This week, a TV ad was offering "house+land" packages at Mawson Lakes for Au$ 200,000,
after a nearby man-made "bird sanctuary" became an undesirable mosquito breeding pond.

Flat, uninteresting topography make this land - in an area that's subjected to an reg-
ular "pong" (strong odor, from a [nearby] unidentified source) - much less desirable.

Encumbrance/requirements to include costly remote climate control & monitoring systems
can add up to $20,000 to the construction costs of the house (so, read the fine-print,
ie, if you consider any of the above house+land packages there).

At least, it's a short commute to UniSA (Levels Campus), DSTO & a RAAF Base...

One could argue.... (1) (463190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407206)

...that the "real" Silicon Valley is all but completely dead and gone.

Yes, it takes rich people and nerds. But it takes rich people who know business and are willing to take an honest shot at building a real one, and it takes nerds who are passionate about their work, as opposed to hacks who'll take a job at whatever place is burning the most VC dough. Silicon Valley has vitually NONE of those people left.

The question I've been asking myself is not can there be another silicon valley, but where will it be? Austin Texas has a lot of the right ingredients, and so does Hong Kong and a few isolated movements in Europe.... but Menlo Park? Not a chance. It's all a bunch of powerpoint shows pitching "virtual this" and "outsource that" for as far as the eye can see up Sand Hill Road.

Impressions of a visitor (2, Informative)

EMB Numbers (934125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407211)

I have never lived in Silicon valley, but I have been a regular visitor for about 15 years. I travel there for business meetings and conventions usually for a week at a time. I have been all over the valley at all times of year, etc. My follow-up question would be "which Silicon Valley ?"

Stanford is certainly a great source for alpha nerds, but the founding technology seeds of Silicon valley were not started by Stanford grads. Think HP, Varian, Xerox PARC, National labs, Nasa, Apple, ... Stanford fuels the fire but isn't necessary. I always enjoy overhearing conversations about mutex locks and Posix compliance and Java Beans and silicon-on-copper while buying a Barbie for my daughter, but there are concentrated nerd communities in many places nowadays.

As for rich people, why would anyone locate/fund a start-up in Silicon Valley now ? The cost of doing business there is outrageous. There are great people in many places where start-up costs are half or a third and you don't even have to leave the USA. Consider Research Triangle in North Carolina. Venture capital can be spent anywhere, and it goes so much further other places.

Economically, the valley is the poster city for comparison between the haves and the have-nots. Compare the have-nots who drive 2 hours to work every day and raise 5 children in a tenement vs. the childless power couple with dual 6 figure incomes, a 1000sf ranch in Mountain View, and evidently dead end genes.

Culturally Silicon Valley has some "issues."

People used to raise families there, but not anymore. I always ask people I meet about their families, and few have any children. Almost none have more than 1 child. Families with the famous 2.5 children used to live in those ubiquitous 1000sf 1950's ranch style houses.

The Silicon Valley of the early 90s changed radically in the late 90s and changed again after the .com bust. The Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose used to be a great place to stay. You could step out of the lobby and get on the light rail. You could walk to restaurants, a mall, and clubs late into the night and the sidewalks were still crowded. The light rail is still there, but there is no-place to go anymore. During the late 90s, office space became so precious that the malls, restaurants, and clubs were forced out to make way for higher paying tenants. Then the bubble burst and Downtown San Jose was left a lifeless corpse. Now the places to stay when on business are Sunnyvale or Mountain View. I liked the "culture" of the valley better in the early 90s.

Dulles Corridor is the new Silicon Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407222)

The technology and internet hub of the USA in 2006 is in Northern Virginia, near Dulles Airport in what is known as the Dulles Corridor. AOL is headquartered there for a reason, and everybody who is anybody has an office there now. No better place in the US to find tech jobs. It is also one of the wealthiest places in the US per capita.

Nerds is a pretty general term. (1)

larry_larry (669612) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407237)

In his opinion: 'I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds'. Nerds is a pretty general term. I would argue that you also need the proper mix of creative nerds, tech nerds, marketing nerds and management nerds. Guess I best read the essay and see if Nerds is decomposed into sub-classes.

I Know That This Is Off-Topic (1)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407254)

I know that this is off-topic, but I just want to address an issue I've been seeing in the tagging beta:

Why do people tag stories with keywords that are part of the headline? The only tag showing for this story is "siliconvalley," which is about a zero on the usefulness scale of 1-10. The whole point of tagging is to provide additional meta-data about a story, not just to take the nouns in the headline and turn them into tags. For goodness sake, you could at least play the Fark card and just tag stories as Interesting, Amusing, Asinine, etc. if you don't have anything better to go with.

Arc (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15407275)

Where is Arc??

Why Silicon Valley (1)

mencomenco (551866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407285)

Offhand, cubic dollars were the primary fuel. For decades the MIT Forum has tried to jump-start tech ventures with moderate success, and across the country it pretty much looks the same. San Jose got rich by unique circumstances.

My favorite line: Many have tried, most have died. Usually fron silicone confusion.

The essential element is a MARKET for the output of the venture, even if it's just a busines plan (i.e., investors to buy in). There must also be a local buyer for the PRODUCT. The Internet crowd thinks this is just silly, but read on.

LOCAL Vendors/LOCAL customers. The quintessential SV firms had smart local customers who helped re-design their products and a supplier base that fine-tuned their production machinery. And a local consulting base (largely Stanford) that advised, invested AND promoted. PLUS buckets of Federal contract money irrigating the defense/aerospace/electronics complex with remarkably sloppy accounting controls.

Lotsa Cheap Technicians. Thousands of guys got jobs in SV after technical service in the Air Force & Navy. Liked the area and stayed put. Goes for San Diego too. Don't underestimate the booster role played by San Jose Mercury. Coverage = credibility. Just try to place a startup sales-success story in the Chicago Tribune!

IMHO the financial and human resources the rest of the USA poured into SV were the deciding factors along with the talents of Stanford's EE profs promoting their students into Federal contracts.

For maybe forty years the MIT Forum (a volunteer alumni operation) has attempted with moderate success to cultivate mini SV's across the country. Anyone care to comment on their success?

One ingredient (1)

Phocas (147850) | more than 8 years ago | (#15407297)

One thing you need is a socially tolerant environment. Sergey Brin's father said in an interview that they left Russia because he didn't think his son, as a Jew, would ever be able to get a fair shake in Russia. In Silicon Valley no one cares what religion anyone is. How many nerds fresh out of college want to take a job in a dry county in rural Alabama?
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