Aside from being my new EE Times blog, what exactly is Silicon Valley Nation? If you're unfamiliar with the sports usages (Raider Nation, Red Sox Nation), the loose definition goes something like this: A dispersed group of like-minded people or a common philosophy and spirit shared in different regions of the world.
"Silicon Valley" already is nation. The the name has been appropriated in any number of ways: Telecom Valley, Silicon Prairie, Silicon Glen, etc. My old colleague Richard Wallace even has "The Next Silicon Valley
" as his technology news site's title and mission.
This week, as if by Divine Providence, a story slipped into my RSS feed to illustrate the nation notion:
Peter Delevett, writing in the San Jose Mercury News
, describes how the "Silicon Valley" in many ways has headed north on 101 and found a rare parking spot in San Francisco.
"San Francisco has led the world in venture capital funding for three years running, and the city has more than 4,000 startups in the South of Market area alone, according to San Francisco tech incubator the Hatchery."Hardware Software Codependence
To be sure, the popular focus on innovation in the geographic area we call the Silicon Valley has shifted in the past 20 years from hardware to software, from silicon to services. I alluded to this in a post last year about TI's acquisition of Silicon Valley pioneer National Semiconductor
We move on because of the same creative destruction that companies like
National feasted on in their youth; we move on because the Valley will
always be the cradle of innovation. After the silicon guys came the
systems guys; now, the software guys—Google. Facebook. Twitter. They all
stand on the shoulders of National Semiconductor and other Silicon
Valley pioneers. Mourn the dead, and raise your glass.
There's no doubt that as the design paradigm has evolved, that skilled engineers are migrating to Baghdad by the Bay (as the late great San Francisco Columnist Herb Caen called SF), but it will never be "the Valley."
San Francisco has intimacy, electricity and density and a young, hip, smart work force. But it also has a mind-numbingly high cost of living (I should know as I live here). It's easy to get around if you like to walk, bike or take the bus. If you want to drive, forget it.
Despite the best business-luring efforts of its current mayor, Ed Lee, The cool gray city of love is held hostage by a board of supervisors whose policies and politics would suggest they wear red rubber noses and big floppy shoes to their meetings. What's up down south
San Jose, the nominal capital of the Silicon Valley is sprawling, has a dismal public transportation system and rolls up its sidewalks in the late evening. It's not for the young, hip and hyper-caffeinated. But there's elbow room.
Because young engineers grow up to become middle aged engineers, the Silicon Valley will always be in and around San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Campbell, Palo Alto and Mountain View. Engineers grow up, stop sleeping in their cubes, date, marry, have and raise families in good school districts and get tired of 55-degree summer days. That's why the Silicon Valley will always thrive.
The cost of living is relatively more affordable and, outside of commute hours, it's easier to get around.
The geographic region will thrive as a magnet for brilliant engineers but its spirit--the foundation of the Silicon Valley Nation--will thrive far and wide too. It will thrive in places where people understand it's OK to experiment and to fail; to take calculated risks; places where when the water rushes over its banks and takes everything with it, that you scrape the mud off your boots in the morning and set about to rebuild.
This blog will share stories of that spirit, whether they're datelined Santa Clara or Austin or Raleigh, N.C. And I can tell you, having driven around the country for a year talking to engineers
, that spirit is everywhere.
Long live the Silicon Valley Nation.