Many people have wondered how and why Silicon Valley companies came to dominate several sectors of the modern technology world. Companies such as Google, Oracle, Intel, HP and Apple were all founded in the valley south of San Francisco.
I have just finished reading a book by Ashlee Vance entitled Geek Silicon Valley and it gives you some of the answers. It’s primarily a tourist guide to the sights but it also covers the company buildings and the history of the companies that have built the modern economy in the towns of Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and San Jose.
I formerly spent some time in the area and the author clearly knows the valley well and its history. If you are visiting the area on business this book is highly recommended and there is more to see in the area than most tourists will know about. Most visitors to the area may stay in San Francisco but that would be a mistake.
The author amusingly points out that some people attribute the success of silicon valley to the fact that William Shockley’s mother lived in Palo Alto near Stanford University. Shockley moved back there when he founded a semiconductor business. Spin-offs from that business were Fairchild and subsequently Intel and it was those offspring that made the area the base for new technology companies.
But it was the development of venture capital businesses that funded, and continue to do so, these new world-beating companies that were the real innovation. This book gives you a good idea of the culture that has made silicon valley such a success.
The presence of Stanford University and the attraction of a good climate and relatively low land and housing cost (at least early on) no doubt helped but there have been a number of factors that helped make silicon valley so successful, as the book helps to explain.
Roger Lawson (Twitter https://twitter.com/RogerWLawson )
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