Had a day and a half in Silicon Valley this week on the way to the UK. I’ve been staying in Palo Alto, right in the center of the valley.
I’ve been coming up here for 16+ years and it’s always exciting as Silicon Valley is the heart of the hi-tech world. I love sitting in the cafe’s and everyone is talking tech. I immediately feel like I belong and its hard not to just jump into other people conversations.
As you drive down the 101 you see the head offices of all the big tech brands you know. SalesForce.com, Oracle and all the rest. Walking around Palo Alto you see FaceBook are right in the downtown area. (which has caused local parking and cafe issues).
I feel differently about the Valley now. I don’t think web 2.0 companies need to be here anymore. If you can get funded outside of the Valley and if your market is really global then Web 2.0 is not as dependent on the Valley as early technology models were. I maintain that our competitive advantage in New Zealand and Wellington in particular is our ability to build multi-disciplined teams. In a place as big as the Valley it must be harder to build a multi-faceted A team. Though you see the investment at schools like Stanford and you know there are so many well trained people here. People in the Valley are all fired up to create the next big thing. There are no limits to success here. But the tech world, web 2.0 world does feel more global.
Some of the interesting things I’ve seen over the past few days. Tesla has a final assembly workshop and showroom in Palo Alto so I swung in and had a look. No plans for a right hand drive version or an Australasian support center. “You’d have to ship your car to Europe for servicing.” Yeah right. The design for their family model is due later this year.
Met up with some folks at Microsoft in Mountain View. As we were walking around I noticed a Surface computer. Of course I had to have a play. The graphics and design were stunning. The interaction was still a bit lofi but that will just get better. It does feel magical.
Did the normal geek walk around Frys. Managed to not buy anything. I did pick up a Blue Snowball for podcasting at the Apple Store though. At the one-on-one desk I got a quick 5 minutes on how to use GarageBand for podcasting. Cool! As I checked out the cashier just had a handheld device. She scanned my card and I was wondering how I was going to get a receipt when she asked “Would you like your receipt printed or emailed to you”. That was clever. Save me time and they have my email address. Simple but clever.
As I write this the 1st Presidential debate is on. I was living in Texas when Clinton did his and was here when Bush and Gore were going at it. With the financial crisis going on CNN is just 24×7 analysis and comment. Addictive even though it’s hours of pre analysis, short event, hours of post analysis. There is so much information. I watched Recount on the plane. Fascinating.