Looking at Silicon Valley, the center of world-class startup and tech companies

Google, Facebook, Apple, eBay, Adobe, Yahoo, Netflix, Oracle, and other leading companies… I still remember the old day on the slow car running across the valley of the number one technology and innovations. I could not help but feel speculate seeing technological company headquarters which I am a big fan of. This place can’t be anywhere but Silicon Valley, the valley of technologies, located in the south of San Francisco Bay, California. Today we will get to know the starting point of Silicon Valley and what makes this modern valley center of startup and world-class tech firms. 

The greatness of Silicon Valley

This center of high technology is a home of many giant tech firms specialized in computers, social media, internet, software, hardware, fiber optic, and medical equipment. More than 30 of Fortune-1000 tech companies with the highest revenue are located here, for example, Google, a world-leading search engine, and Facebook, a giant social media. Silicon Valley is also a center of thousands of startup companies and one-third of Venture capital or companies investing in startups. Hence, Silicon Valley is an expensive land as it is a hub and a perfect ecosystem of IT startup and science.

It is the center of 250,000 high-quality IT labor. Therefore, Silicon Valley has the highest density of both IT companies and employees in the United States. Silicon Valley becomes a symbol of American High-Technology which holds enormous economic value and also represents the company leader for researching and developing IT innovation. Moreover, Silicon Valley is important to the US's economy in the employment and income perspective followed by taxing and stock value in the market.

Origin of the name “Silicon Valley”

Many people might misunderstand that Silicon Valley is the city name, however, Silicon Valley covers several cities which the biggest is San Jose. Other cities are Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto. San Jose also has the third-highest GDP per capita in the world following Zurich and Oslo.

Don Hoefler is the one who called this valley, Silicon Valley in the article “Silicon Valley USA” in 1971. The name was given during the early period of semiconductor computer chips production which has silicon as the major component. Later, during early 1980, such a name was generally used after the origin of IBM including hardware and software production.

Why Silicon Valley is successful

There are many reasons make Silicon Valley so successful which are

  • Leading institutions and universities are the center in which the highest impact is from Stanford University which aims to serve Western American society and develop the university in the direction toward supporting the local industry. The organizations in the area cooperate with the university to start high-technology firms which Stanford plays a major role in developing Silicon Valley in its first 50 years. After World War II, Frederick Terman, Stanford Engineering Dean, supported faculties and students to start their own company. In 1951, he founded the Stanford Industrial Park (now called Stanford Research Park) which the university leased the location for hi-tech companies which was an important part of starting Hewlett-Packard, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, and others. 

Apart from Stanford, there are other leading universities which are the University of California at Berkeley, San Jose State University also plays an important role in researching, innovating, and developing manpower to serve the technological market. 

  • The San Francisco Bay Area has long been the base of the US Navy research department. In 1909, Charles Herrold started the first US radio station in San Jose. After that, Stanford bought such technology and founded the Federal Telegraph Corporation (FTC) in Palo Alto. 10 years later, they were succeeding in developing the first radio wave communication. In 1933, the airbase was founded in Sunnyvale and named NAS Moffett Field. Hence, technological firms originated around the area. The airbase was then moved to San Diego and let NASA use the area to research and develop aviation and space technology, however, the companies are still located at the same place. Thus, new space companies were founded nearby including Lockheed which had the most employees in Silicon Valley during the 1950s-1980s.

  • Cooperation among local companies’ founders as they were friends during the study. Therefore, they supported each other instead of competing including building networks for knowledge sharing which let them succeed together.

  • There is the California law prohibiting an employer from forcing employees to sign a contract not allowing them to start a business competing with the employer.

  • Diversity in race and culture. More than half of the startups in Silicon Valley are founded by immigrants which makes the area attractive to international investors to set up the company and develop innovation.

  • Venture capitals that invest in rising-star startups are a part that drives the industry. Venture capital was first founded in 1972 and the important deal was a $1.3 billion investment for Apple Computer in 1980. From that time, Silicon Valley has the highest density of Venture Capital. 

Well-known companies which have their headquarters located in Silicon Valley

  • Adobe,  San Jose
  • Apple, Cupertino
  • Cisco, San Jose
  • eBay,  San Jose
  • Facebook, Menlo Park
  • Google, Mountain View
  • HP,  Palo Alto
  • Intel, Santa Clara
  • Netflix, Los Gatos
  • Oracle, Redwood City
  • PayPal, San Jose
  • Tesla, Palo Alto
  • Twitter, San Francisco
  • Yahoo, Sunnyvale

It can be seen that the success of Silicon Valley is not possible without support from quality institutions with the aim of social development by developing business and innovation such as Stanford. Hopefully, one day, our leading universities in Thailand will reach such a point and start driving technology development and increasing the ability to compete for our nation. Anyone interested to visit Silicon Valley can fly to San Francisco plus half an hour's drive. Apart from leading companies, there are a lot of good museums including the Computer History Museum, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, The Intel Museum, Moffett Field Historical Society Museum.