Understanding Silicon Valley

어제 Opportunity Recognition 수업에서 다룬 주제가 실리콘 밸리에 대해서 이해하기였음. 원래 그냥 대강 신청해서 들었던 수업인데, 안 듣고 졸업했으면 어쩔뻔했나 싶을 정도로 재미있게 듣고 있는 수업이다.

“Regional Advantage”와 “Understanding Silicon Valley” 두 책은 기회되면 따로 간략히 글을 쓰는게 나을 것 같고, 수업에서 나왔던 내용을 간략히 정리해 둔다.


– Again, you are what you worry about. This is what makes Silicon Valley Silicon Valley. SV is filled with people who worry about changing the world using technology somehow. Read the recent Steve Jobs interview on TIME. This is what SV is.

“Is this then the curtain dropping on your third act?” I ask. “Will you perhaps leave Apple on this high, a fitting end to your career here?” “I don’t think of my life as a career,” he says. “I do stuff. I respond to stuff. That’s not a career — it’s a life!”

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1976935-4,00.html#ixzz0kXjIVWsM

– The top articles in Business section and Technology section on NYTimes are usually same. It’s not a coincidence.

– People will feel about you the way you make them feel about themselves.

– The US at its best reflects immigrations. California is filled with people who don’t fit in anywhere else. What if you don’t fit in California? You go to San Francisco. If you don’t fit in SF, you come to Berkeley. It’s the very last off-ramp of the highway to sanity. Being a little wanky is acceptable here. People will think, ‘That guy must be really brilliant, otherwise one cannot be that stupid.’ More than a half of science & engineering workers came from countries other than the US. It’s no longer minority. We don’t call something more than a half minority.

– When I first came here (1983), there was no Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse. No eastern law firms, either. All of those enabling functions were raised in the region. Sandy Robertson is a famous guy who started 3-4 investment banks based on Silicon Valley. Although it’s different now, the root is different. So the tree is. Venture Capitalists are same. They were usually experienced-managers-turned-investors.

– Common misleading description of SV: 1) vague and simplistic, 2) confused cause & effect, 3) truth by repeated assertion, 4) descriptive / not informative, 5) wishful thinking / self-promoting.

– 4 pillars of SV: 1) University, 2) VC, 3) Enablers (law/accounting firms), 4) smart engineers

  1. Counter argument: Why not around every other good university? => fluid academic-industrial environment (Responding to the side question “why Stanford is better at commercialization than Berkeley?”, one of the reasons is the ethos of Berkeley giving everything away. Unix? Give it away. Raid? Give it away. etc.)
  2. Counter arg: 70% of VCs 1980-2006 was invested in 1999+2000. => easy access to experienced-managers-turned-investors
  3. In 1985, the largest law firms in SV had 10 people. Importance overrated. (Law inherently cannot create value. It can protect, hide, destroy value, but not create one.)
  4. Counter arg: Smart people live everywhere. => Engineering-entrepreneur cross-trained in management is unique.

– So, it is just hard to replicate. SV is the beneficiary of a tournament model. If what you worry about is somewhat technology, you’ve gotta be in Santa Clara. Period. No matter how crappy your house is, you’ve gotta live here. If you work for financial services, you should be in Wall Street. For movie, Hollywood. Yes, life is unfair, but it’s how it works. Silicon Valley is interconnection of people.

– BTW, recently SV got a lot of funding on clean tech. “silicon”, by definition, has nothing to do with clean tech. However, SV is thriving on destroying other industries.