Another way to make money is to invent something new or do it in a way no one else has done it before. This happen all over the world but it happens very quickly and frequently in Silicon Valley, California.
As I walk through the shadow of… er, different Valley.
Silicon Valley today is a religion, not just a place. The internet bubble put it on the map of orthodontists seeking to make millions speculating on what mostly ended up being crap.com. But a lot of ink flowed in newspapers about Silicon Valley – before the Valley killed the papers the ink was written on by creating a ubiquitous, liquid and generally free-ish (low margin to content producers like newspapers).
But its roots are humble, quiet and proudly geeky. Silicon Valley geographically is basically here
…the area below San Francisco airport to around San Jose airport, with the engineering department of Stanford University being the epicenter. In the 1950s, there were more apricot farmers than engineers. It was a sleepy research and development center that keyed off of the talent flow leaving Stanford University which was just then coming to prominence as a great private institution. The sunny Palo Alto weather and high quality public schooling didn’t hurt as a magnet.
One of the key elements in sparking the Valley as a hotbed of innovation was the fact that Xerox (when it was great great great great great…) opened its research and development center on Hillview Avenue in Palo Alto, about a mile from the first tee of the Stanford golf course. Xerox PARC was the inventor of some of the most amazing technologies in the world – from the microwave oven to the mouse to GUI based operating systems. In the 1970’s it was able to leverage off defense spending.
They were the inspiration for much of the really cool stuff you see in the first Men In Black.
But sadly Xerox, whose corporate headquarters were based in Rochester, NY and then Stamford, CT, had no idea what to do with the goldmine they had in California. Xerox thought it was in the copying business. Instead, it was in the computer management business – it just gave away that business entirely to Intel, Apple, Microsoft and a bunch of others who came to visit the hot-looking lady for $200 an hour.