From Silicon Valley…

Posting today from San Fran (from the Apple Store – free internet access rocks) before i jump on the plane back to blighty. I’ve had a very interesting first week in the new job flying out to San Fran on my first day, embarking on a press visit and research project to find out what it is that makes Silicon Valley tick – why is it that all the great innovations on the web are coming out of the valley? Why don’t Silicon Counties (Oxford/Cambridge/London) in the UK turn out the same great successes. I’ll blog further on this when i get back to the UK but i’ve met some great people here in Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 companies, great thinkers and talkers, the energy here is unbelievable. I also attended a great VC orientated event ‘Under the Radar’ some very neat companies operating in the mobile space, mobile in the US might be a little behind that of Europe but they’re catching up.

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5 responses to “From Silicon Valley…

  1. Great to have you back. I think that Silicon Valley is hard to replicate here because of poor ties between business and commerce, too little R&D spend in general and a cash starved Uni system not producing enough grads and projects. That’s before you get to the 3rd world infrastructure…I await your views.

  2. Good to be back. Completley agree with your points with regards to Silicon Valley vs Silicon Counties, the gulf between the two seems huge. I think much of the difference (once you take-away some of the other obvious points) is a cultural one. Silicon Valley seems to have a culture of failure i.e. where failure is acceptable and even sometimes expected – a quote from one of the people i met was that a VC would often rather invest in someone that had failed twice than someone that succeeded once – failure is seen as the best way to learn. Can you imagine investors in the UK taking that approach?

  3. It’s a culture of possibility, rather than failure, I’d say. I believe it is attitude that makes the difference between the Valleys—Silicon and Thames. In the Bay Area, often it seems as if everything can be attempted as though it may be possible (even if it turns out that it isn’t: no problem) whereas in the Thames Valley many things are discounted at the outset because they are considered impossible (even though, with the right attitude, they may not be). That’s my perception, living and working—and making suggestions—in both places 🙂

  4. You can count good, active technology VCs on one hand in the UK. In the Valley there are dozens if not hundreds. Also there is a lot of trickle down money: success leads to more seed funding and a virtuous circle for future ventures. I divide my time between the UK and California and see the difference. It is scale first, culture second.

  5. Thanks for the comments people. The whole Silicon Valley vs Silicon Counties debate is an interesting one, and something I’m going to be exploring further as part of the new job.

    Whilst we don’t have as many VC’s, or as much high risk investment, there is still an awful lot of money washing around at the moment. I haven’t got the precise stats to hand but heard that the amount of investment in Silicon Counties, as part of the overall investment in the UK, is higher to that in Silicon Valley (as percentage of the overall investment in the US). Obviously the actual investment is x10 less than the total investment in the valley, but shows how important technology is becoming for the UK economy.

    We obviously now need to start driving great innovation to take advantage of this, and try, as much as possible to breed innovation and encourage entrepreneurship. I completely think that this has to start coming out of the Universities (not solely but a great part of the puzzle), but compared to the valley and the Stanford’s of this world, we’re a very long way behind.

    Bob (a great British export to the Valley) , over at Yelp, set up Oxfords Entrepreneur society three years ago, until then they didn’t even have one. I’m sure Bob will correct me if I’m wrong but it is now one of, if not the, most highly subscribed societies. This is very encouraging for the future. But I wonder why this type of society wasn’t set-up before, and I also wonder just how many other Universities have this form of society – I’d imagine very few.

    I also agree with the ‘trickle-down’ observation – Silicon Valley seems to attract serial entrepreneurs – people that keep on having great ideas and reinvesting their money achieved at an IPO or successful flip. People seem to come back pretty quick and just can’t keep away, and in doing so invest money and time in new talent and ideas and keep Silicon Valley the premier place for innovation with technology…

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