The Silicon Valley experience: 11 findings

Today is Thanksgiving and day 48 in California. Right time to share some impressions:

  1. Where is the future? Where is it? Here! Go to one of the many gatherings, where young start-ups present their ideas and products to raise money. Talk to people: everything is about machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, big data, data analytics, robotics, biohacking,  bringing internet to the remotest places in the world by sending satellites and drones along. And so on.
  2. The diversity is not as diverse: A young, white, highly-educated, smart new elite is serving these companies. Even being from Asia or India they seem to be white. They are the new global WASP´s. These youngster make tons of money and spend it all over. Middle-class, musicians, artists, queers, all what made SF a unique place are leaving for the east bay (Oakland, up North..).
  3. If you think you are still young and good situated, come to SF. I never felt as old as in San Francisco and I never paid as much in a supermarket or restaurant. (not even in London or NYC). Prices are ridiculous, money seemingly has been abandoned. And the  average age is about 25, felt even younger. And they are not at McDonald’s, which is hardly to be found, but in really expensive high-end restaurants – all over.
  4. Filter Coffee is the new Espresso. Little bit embarrassing to order Cappuccino, but still acceptable. The “Barristo” coffee guy will have lots of tattoos, a beard, long hair or side cut or both and will prepare your Cappuccino like a piece of art. You are lucky to pay only $4.80 without tax and tip.
  5. What makes “valley” companies so special? Is it the colorful campus? The young smart people from all over the world?  Is it all the money? Is it the organizations structure, the free cleaning service, the complementary lunch and coffee? No, of course not. In these very successful tech/virtual reality/data analytics/whatever companies you will hear about purpose, trust, “giving more than you take” culture, authenticity, culture, integrity, honesty, mindfulness, consciousness, values, principles, quality, ethics, sustainability, environmental responsibility and these kind of things. They have CCOs, Chief Conscious Officers and meditation is not a “wohooe wodoo” thing, but a very common practice.
  6. Talent attraction, engagement and retention is one of the main challenges. Don’t mess around with your employees. They are the most important resource, as a matter of fact, not lip service (like in most companies). That is why the other point (the values..) is ever more important. Young talents want to work with you for a shared purpose, not for a boss.
  7. California is amazing. The coast, the wineland, San Franciso, Death Valley, Redwoods, Los Angeles, San Diego, the beaches, the trails, the mountains, the whales, the food, the people. The weather. All very nice and good and impressive.  Wonderful!
  8. Universities act as Think Tanks, breeding new break through ideas that transform into new start-ups and many successful business ideas.
  9. Being open and courageous, learning and listening and asking is a shared state of being. Wherever we go, we meet people, have interesting conversations, learn something new and share something new to others.
  10. “Silicon Valley” is a concept more than a place. It operates as organism and ecosystem, with collaboration and co-creation as guiding principles. Competitors co-evolve and disfrute from each others success. The challenge is not to get the biggest share of the cake, but to grow the overall cake AND your share.
  11. Money is very important. And there is a lot of money, and whoever tells us it is all only about a noble purpose and making people’s lives better.. well. maybe. I doubt it. But there is no contradiction of course, make people’s lives better and getting rich is alright.