Silicon Valley: The global brand for innovation
Google. Facebook. Salesforce. Yahoo. Microsoft.
What do the above five companies all have in common besides being some of the most profitable enterprises on the planet?
Answer: their location – Silicon Valley.
The bulk of the world’s household names in technology were founded in, or are now headquartered in Silicon Valley. This is no accident. The skyrocketed real estate prices in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Palo Alto (even Oakland now!) are a direct reflection of how desirable of a place to be Silicon Valley has become for the largest players in business.
Silicon Valley is historically synonymous with digital innovation, and for those looking to make a mark in the information, digital finance, or technology industries there is nowhere else worth spending the time for mulling over where to set up shop.
Not to say that if you open your doors in Silicon Valley you become guaranteed to get a spot at the table with the big guys (startups are founded and disappear every minute), but a professional presence in the city publicly solidifies that your business takes itself seriously, whether you have physical offices there or frequently visit to rub shoulders with some of the most well-known CEOs in the business of all things innovative.
Every sector of business, from construction to finance, hinges on technological innovation now for success, which has lead to Silicon Valley becoming ground zero for some of the most successful businesses being publicly traded. If a client asks where you are located, and you reply “Palo Alto” it carries some serious weight with it. Why? Silicon Valley has become less of a place and more so a brand. This is no accident.
So, let us take a look into why this geographically tiny region has had such an enormous global impact on innovation.
The Venture Capital Capitol
Within the entire United States, Silicon Valley is the destination of over one third of venture capital investments being made. Having built a reputation as the innovation hub of America has resulted in the region gaining noticeable recognition as the smartest place to invest one’s dollars (or pounds, yen…).
Silicon Valley is not just about designing new computer chips, per se, but where novel ideas are buzzing through the air in each living room, cafe, and IT park. Technology cannot be ignored for it’s value in business today, but it’s now the concepts and groundbreaking approaches to business that are generating the billions worth of investment in the region’s startups and enterprises.
Silicon Valley: innovation beyond technology
Silicon Valley may be synonymous with technological advances, but that is not the only reason why VCs are funneling billions into the region each year.
Take the case of Uber, which is a technological lightweight (an example of an extremely simple app) compared to Facebook which it rivals in value. While nothing leaves an impression on a user concerning the app’s technology, the fact that you could order a ride, and affordably from the palm of your hand, was revolutionary. Where was the app developed? You guessed it.
When you think about it, a concept like Uber was extremely risky. The company took a gamble on whether or not people would be willing to be transported by a stranger without a professional taxi license. Also, they were going up against fleets of cabs who seemingly already had the market cornered except for one issue: cabs charge customers for distance travelled and time.
Uber revolutionized the way that the public approaches third-party private transportation, and to an infectious degree. Wherever Uber is not (which is not many place as of now), the business model is being mimicked by local ride providers.
While there are hardware and software giants left and right in Silicon Valley that consistently break new ground and explore new territory (Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Intel to name only a few out of thousands), the area has become a hive for creative business ideas.
The focus is not always on the fastest microprocessor, but often the customer experience. There are companies based in Silicon Valley like eBay and PayPal, that have entirely revolutionized industries that were familiar to the civilized world since time immemorial (auctions/financial transfers) in one fell swoop.
The feverish focus on innovation here is rooted in developing novel ways to improve the customer experience. Whether through advanced technology or through a brilliant method for refining the point of purchase, if you are working to improve your customer retention or attract new customers, there are hardly many places better suited to develop methods to do such outside of Silicon Valley.
Why you need to get here yesterday
It is not simply the proliferation of some of the most successful technology companies, more than any other location in the world, but the people are what truly makes Silicon Valley astounding. Over 45% of residents hold a college degree, almost double that of the United States as a whole, and more than half of the employees come from countries outside of the US.
This facilitates a breeding ground for innovation, as diverse ideas are not only accepted but welcomed. While you can stay at home in Omaha or New York, if you are looking to propel your company into the future there is no better place than the global hub of innovation to do it in.
Also, you do not necessarily need stay in or move your headquarters to Silicon Valley; simply routinely visiting and establishing relationships with major players in your industry (or players in an industry from which your own company can benefit from incorporating as a partner, consultant, etc.) is valuable for any enterprise.