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posted by martyb on Friday January 14 2022, @04:23PM   Printer-friendly

The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley:

POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE been trying to replicate Silicon Valley’s high-tech magic since the invention of the microchip. A tech-curious Charles de Gaulle, then president of France, toured Palo Alto in his convertible limousine in 1960. Russian Federation President Dmitri Medvedev dressed business casual to meet and tweet with Valley social media tycoons in 2010. Hundreds of eager delegations, foreign and domestic, visited in between. “Silicon Valley,” inventor and entrepreneur Robert Metcalfe once remarked, “is the only place on earth not trying to figure out how to become Silicon Valley.”

In the US, too, leaders have long tried to engineer another Silicon Valley. Yet billions of dollars of tax breaks and “Silicon Something” marketing campaigns later, no place has matched the original’s track record for firm creation and venture capital investment—and these efforts often ended up benefiting multinational corporations far more than the regions themselves. Wisconsin promised more than $4 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn in 2017, only to see plans for a $10 billion factory and 13,000 jobs evaporate after hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars had already been spent to prepare for Foxconn’s arrival. Amazon’s 2017 search for a second headquarters had 238 American cities falling over each other to woo one of the world’s richest corporations with tax-and-subsidy packages, only to see HQ2 go to two places Amazon likely would have chosen anyway because of their preexisting tech talent. One of the winners, Northern Virginia, promised Amazon up to $773 million in state and local tax subsidies—a public price tag for gleaming high-tech towers that seems especially steep as Amazon joins other tech giants in indefinitely pushing back post-pandemic plans to return to the office.

While the American tech industry is vastly larger than it used to be, the list of top tech clusters—the Bay Area, Seattle, Boston, Austin—has remained largely unchanged since the days of 64K desktop computers and floppy disks. Even the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic have done little to alter this remarkably static and highly imbalanced tech geography.

[...] It wasn’t just tech policy that made these regions what they are, however. Social spending mattered too. In the prosperous postwar years, the GI Bill sent millions of veterans to college and helped them buy homes. States like California enlarged public higher education systems, making it easy to obtain a low-cost, top-flight university education. Schools and local infrastructure were well-funded, especially in the growing suburbs that many tech people and companies called home.

[...] The US government had a transformative impact on high-tech development when its leaders were willing to spend big money on research, advanced technology, and higher education—and keep at it for quite some time.

[...] The next Silicon Valley will not come from a race to the bottom, from who can offer the most tax cuts, the leanest government, the loosest regulations. It will result from the kind of broad, sustained public investment that built the original Valley.

[Based on a Book] The Code - SILICON VALLEY AND THE REMAKING OF AMERICA By MARGARET O’MARA

Why do you think "Silicon Valleys" elsewhere did not become as successful?


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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14 2022, @04:27PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14 2022, @04:27PM (#1212687)

    The only way to unseat the king is to kill him.

    --
    Україна не входить до складу Росії.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by tekk on Friday January 14 2022, @04:29PM (21 children)

    by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @04:29PM (#1212688)

    The issue is that they're too impatient. The Research Triangle in North Carolina's gonna just about be on that list considering that it's becoming the eastern HQ for Apple and Google's going to have a big office soon. Thing is that it's got the right climate for it (namely 3 very good research universities in close proximity: Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State University,) and it's been a project that's been in-progress for more than half a century at this point.

    Basically the fundamental problem with all the others is that they didn't take a long term view on it. You aren't gonna make a Silicon Valley in 1 generation.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @04:37PM (8 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @04:37PM (#1212689)

      "You aren't gonna make a Silicon Valley in 1 generation."

      You aren't going to make another place that makes things in the US like Silicon Valley WAS
      That infrastructure is gone, moved to China.

      What is left doesn't need to be in one physical place any more.
      The Internet has made the proximity of everything in one place obsolete.

      • (Score: 2) by tekk on Friday January 14 2022, @04:39PM (2 children)

        by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @04:39PM (#1212691)

        To a certain extent yeah, we'll see how many companies manage to wiggle out of everyone quitting in favor of full time remote. Until recently with offices as the norm it was still definitely a thing. The main ploy of SV was the research aspect, I dunno how closely those places were actually tied to the manufacturing end which has largely been parceled out by this point.

        • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @05:45PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @05:45PM (#1212710)

          Parent said:
          "The main ploy of SV was the research aspect, I dunno how closely those places were actually tied to the manufacturing end ..."

          You must be young. Silicon Valley was where the semiconductors were MADE, hence the "Silicon" in Silicon Valley. All gone now, as you noted. Design and manufacturing were all done there by American companies. Now "Silicon" Valley makes software to spy on you to sell ads. Maybe it should be renamed "Spyware Valley."

          • (Score: 2) by tekk on Friday January 14 2022, @07:11PM

            by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @07:11PM (#1212740)

            You got me :)

            It was all overseas by the time I was able to pay attention. I knew Commodore in West Chester had its hardware end closely tied since MOS was on the same campus. Didn't know about over in SV.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @04:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @04:47PM (#1212694)

        You are right. Silicon Valley has been a misnomer for many years. It should be renamed "Vim Valley."

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by HiThere on Friday January 14 2022, @06:21PM (3 children)

        by HiThere (866) on Friday January 14 2022, @06:21PM (#1212723) Journal

        Sorry, physical proximity is necessary. So is at least a couple of world class universities. So is a prosperous middle class. So is the expectation that by doing well you recieve rewards. So is a loose social scene, that encourages people to meet. So is a tolerance a degree of disorder. So is a bunch of late teens that believe they can change the world for the better. So is being willing to tolerate a HUGE number of failures. There are probably other requirements that I haven't noticed/thought of/considered sufficiently important.

        Tax policies favoring large corporations are a negative. They can foster existing approaches, but they tend to smother anything really new.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by HiThere on Friday January 14 2022, @06:29PM

          by HiThere (866) on Friday January 14 2022, @06:29PM (#1212726) Journal

          One thing I left out:
          The next "Silicon Valley" won't look like the last one. Won't be in the same field. (Biotech seems likely, but perhaps that's already oversubscribed.)

          Also: Most of the posts seem to be talking about a late stage in the development. This won't work. You've got to start at the beginning. You can't skip the initial steps and still have something that works. Ventrure capitalists don't even show up until things are well advanced beyond preliminary, and probably not until you've got a few initial successes.

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14 2022, @08:10PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14 2022, @08:10PM (#1212751)

          Sorry, physical proximity is necessary.

          Depends entirely on the venture. Pure software plays: not at all.

          --
          Україна не входить до складу Росії.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @01:16AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @01:16AM (#1213289)

          But you need a prosperous wealthy class - after all, they will be paying for the startups and will expect to be wined and dined close to where they live.

          My bet is on Southern Florida north of Miami to be a candidate for the next Silicon Valley. Tons of rich people, a climate many want to move to, a large talent pool from local universities, and ready influx from traditional "top schools". And as we saw in the last two weeks^Wyears, political stability and a relaxed hand at that.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14 2022, @04:43PM (5 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14 2022, @04:43PM (#1212693)

      One generation? Ever been in a VC pitch? They're not interested in generational wealth, they've got that covered through political purchases.

      The pitch is: what ROI can you give me in 5 years? They're expecting 95%+ failure, so they're looking for minimum 20x+ ROI, inside 5 years. Unicorns deliver that on a semi-regular basis, and they're hunting Unicorns. Longer term, smaller APR yields are for the plebes, real money gets 30%+ APR overall, and since the major principal controllers' average age is over 60, they're not interested in money they can't spend.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @04:50PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @04:50PM (#1212695)

        Given that most of the investments are failures, this is why they demand ridiculous ownership shares for that one hit to cover their losses. Unless you need tens of millions of dollars immediately to grow superfast, you are much better off as a company founder avoiding these VC assholes.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14 2022, @05:00PM (1 child)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14 2022, @05:00PM (#1212697)

          I've known two VC funding "winners," both were in their 40s and youthful when they landed the funding, both turned grey and haggard looking like they're at least 60 years old within the next 5 years. They were in the unfortunate middle window, their companies (and my shared in those companies) didn't flame out, neither did they explode in Unicorn glory, they plodded along making steady progress and small profits. Successful by any rational measures, but ordinary success isn't satisfactory to VC investors.

          --
          Україна не входить до складу Росії.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @06:05PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @06:05PM (#1212717)

            Indeed. The expectations on the founders and employees is ridiculous, even as the VCs basically know that. It's pretty cynical when they know 90% of those companies will not "pan out."

      • (Score: 1, Troll) by fustakrakich on Friday January 14 2022, @08:45PM

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Friday January 14 2022, @08:45PM (#1212761) Journal

        they're hunting Unicorns

        Unicorns are thriving under the Wall Street bailouts. Just before the famous virus stole the headlines, over 11 trillion was dumped into repo loans, mysterious that nobody seemed to notice

        --
        Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @09:20AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @09:20AM (#1213363)
        Yeah to me that's the main thing. Not many other places around the world will have people willing to throw lots of money at stuff with >90% failure rates.

        Heck some of those top tech companies got huge but never actually made money (and some never seemed to have a real gameplan for making money - WhatsApp, Skype etc). Does Uber actually make money? Instagram? Many of these smell like legalized ponzi schemes. Strictly speaking they aren't ponzi schemes but when the top goal is not to actually get the company to make money but to keep finding more suckers/investors to throw money at you to keep things going, it sure smells similar to me.

        As for the "real silicon stuff" that's probably in China and Taiwan nowadays.
    • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Friday January 14 2022, @06:46PM

      by crafoo (6639) on Friday January 14 2022, @06:46PM (#1212732)

      I agree. It takes an environment that is friendly to businesses, risk taking, and employment. This means a minimum of laws governing building, hiring and firing, and taxes, and absolutely it has to have local talent factories pushing out people that actually have tech, math, science skills. It takes time. Businesses aren't going to invest heavily in areas that they feel aren't stable or that are a tax trap. It also helps if it's someplace people actually want to live. I know a lot has been made out of remote work, but there are vast segments of science and tech that absolutely require on-site labs and personnel.

    • (Score: 2) by D2 on Saturday January 15 2022, @12:43AM (2 children)

      by D2 (5107) on Saturday January 15 2022, @12:43AM (#1212811)

      Agreed that the RTP area had mojo in the 70s, but my impression is that it has faded not grown, and is getting those offices expressly because it's a dense concentration of tech people and inexpensive real estate in a favorable location.

      Places along the columbia river between OR and WA are getting tech offices. DC, NYC's Silicon Alley, Seattle, Portland OR and DC all have more mojo than NC. Denver, Chicago, KC, Atlanta, Tampa, Salt Lake, San Diego, and Phoenix all have similar levels of tech enthusiasm as Research Triangle Park... Internationally, there's a similar long long list of tech centers. And once the list hits 25, 50, 100 communities, the question resurfaces: are any realistically going to be as uniquely a focal point for new industry as Silicon Valley?

      So far, no one location seems likely.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by TheGratefulNet on Saturday January 15 2022, @03:48PM (1 child)

        by TheGratefulNet (659) on Saturday January 15 2022, @03:48PM (#1212934)

        if there was any doubt before the pandemic - its all cleared up at this point - that the south is NOT a place that respects human life.

        the phrase 'business friendly' is a very dark one. meaning, it sacrifices you so that 'business can profit'. human life takes a 2nd to that.

        how the various states responded to their population in trouble and needing help - it was never more clear than the last 2 years.

        you can't pay me to even ENTER the south for a visit. that's it - I dont intend to even cross borders into red states. not worth the risk. those people dont think like I do, they dont respect life and human dignity and they'll lie and continue to put lies, guns and jesus above all else. fuck that shit.

        it was never more clear who is fighting for you and who is in the pockets of the big bosses. oh, and unions are attacked at every opportunity in the south. another reason to avoid the south.

        just not worth even thinking about what your life would be like if you moved there for a job. basically a one way trip to hell.

        no thanks.

        --
        "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @09:32PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @09:32PM (#1213010)

          You are a raving lunatic. Another mind broken by non-stop COVID panic.

    • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Saturday January 15 2022, @02:08AM

      by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Saturday January 15 2022, @02:08AM (#1212835)

      Basically the fundamental problem with all the others is that they didn't take a long term view on it. You aren't gonna make a Silicon Valley in 1 generation.

      Most of these places aren't based on sustainability and any long term view. It's based on being able to claim that X numbers of "good paying" jobs will be created. The only thing created is the hype of potential future jobs. People already living in these areas won't have the training and skills necessary to work said jobs, and it is difficult to attract a sudden influx of those that do. Companies are given huge tax breaks, a media splash announces the company and X jobs are coming to the area, politicians claim they are creating jobs and get reelected. Companies just use the tax breaks to stash land cheaply, when the time is right they sell it off for a profit.

    • (Score: 2) by TheGratefulNet on Saturday January 15 2022, @03:43PM

      by TheGratefulNet (659) on Saturday January 15 2022, @03:43PM (#1212933)

      RTP area is the south.

      there wont be any (ever) high tech place like SV in the US south.

      it should be pretty obvious why. if you dont know why, ask an adult.

      --
      "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
  • (Score: 2) by quietus on Friday January 14 2022, @05:41PM (7 children)

    by quietus (6328) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @05:41PM (#1212709) Journal

    For the sake of discussion, I'm going to throw in an essay by Paul Graham, Can You Buy a Silicon Valley? [paulgraham.com]

    Note that, over here (Europe) too, a tour of Silicon Valley (and especially the Google campus) seems to be an obligatory part of accepting Angel Investor money (i.e. the startup scene). Invariably, an energized-up LinkedIn post follows.

    • (Score: 1, Troll) by VLM on Friday January 14 2022, @06:29PM (4 children)

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @06:29PM (#1212727)

      The funny part about that PG essay is its from the 00s talking about how Boston is dead for tech startups and Boston did kick off and grow some in the 10s but the article implies todays tech hubs have been tech hubs since 64K and floppy drives, whereas in reality the list is only about the last 5 or at most 10 years. I suppose Journalists don't make money anymore so in 2022 they're probably using 64K computers with floppy drives but everyone else moved on decades before anyone wanted anything to do tech in Boston of all places.

      The problem with VCs is they have an arrogance problem where the guy who picked the winning lottery ticket must have some secret sauce nobody else has that everyone has to feign respect for, whereas he's actually just a lucky bastard who got the good dice roll. The VC biz is just gambling for rich Jewish guys trying not to look like inveterate gamblers. Also they're still living in the 90s when your DNS server takes a capital investment of $125K SUNOS workstation cluster instead of SaaS $14/year or fuck it and spin up a free Amazon AWS instance to host and you're good. So in the 90s you needed "rich guys" to toss in $500K of bootstrap money in exchange for 50% of the company to buy and build a datacenter or similar palace of computation, but today actual innovation comes from some poor bastard whipping out the VISA and sending Amazon $5 and the VCs are like "well fuck I can't get on this action anymore". Silicon valley built a cloudy system for the world such that silicon valley is no longer needed.

      Another funny part of the article is the implication that blue haired SJW-first HR Karens are what successful tech employees look like, LOL. Yeah LOL not so much. Not the successful ones LOL. But that's what people thought a decade or two ago. All you need is leftist politics and lots of drugs and your business is a guaranteed success, or at least you can pivot into an urban coffee shop LOL.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by quietus on Friday January 14 2022, @06:52PM (3 children)

        by quietus (6328) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @06:52PM (#1212735) Journal

        Paul Graham is, ofcourse, not a journalist, but made his money through creating a startup, ViaWeb, along with Robert Morris (after he'd served his jail sentence for creating the Morris Worm). Their startup was bought out by then still cool Yahoo. He soon realized (once again) that he wasn't made for working in a big company and quit as soon as possible. Flush with a couple of millions in cash, Paul Graham later started Y Combinator, an early stage startup 'initializer'.

        He started writing his first essays in that intermediate period between Yahoo and Y Combinator.

        He isn't really interested in blue haired SJW-first HR Karens, by the way -- in fact, quite upset (quick example [paulgraham.com]) about the whole forced-thoughts-and-behavior thing: an obstruction to what makes startups (and the US) successful, in his opinion -- as you'll find out in his essays.

        As to your last para: I do feel your pain, though slightly different: every time a slightly technical computer thing comes up on the news, them journalists feel the need to drag up someone who (a) wears a t-shirt (better even: a hoody), (b) is visibly overweight and (c) hasn't shaven in quite the number of days, to come and explain to the proles. I guess we're lucky they don't force him (always a him, never a her) to wear oversized spectacles with plastic glasses.

        • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @08:34PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @08:34PM (#1212754)

          Hey, I know what hackers look like.
          I've seen "Hackers."

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackers_(film) [wikipedia.org]

          They wear cool leather and skateboard around while sometimes typing something in green text. The girls look like Angelina Jolie. Is this less than accurate?

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:19PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:19PM (#1212769)

          Paul Graham is obviously intelligent and a hard worker, but he was in the right place at the right time to make his fortune. ViaWeb was a fairly obvious idea even at the time. The initial public adoption of the Web in the 1990s meant potentially "easy" money -- especially if you had a clue as to what you were doing, which many "Web businesses" did not -- but it is a moment of opportunity that, for the Internet, will never be repeated. Like another commenter said, someone gets "lucky" (although combined with hard work), and everyone assumes the guy is some sage whose wisdom can enable you to replicate his enormous success. Hell, guys like Graham know they are not going to get "lucky" again creating an Internet company which is why they frequently become VCs so they can spread their risk across many companies. Like many that have sufficient capital, he becomes a financier.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @09:34AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @09:34AM (#1213364)
          lol I remember Paul Graham basically claiming their secret sauce was Lisp ( http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html ).

          Now count how many of the top web sites in the world use mostly Lisp to do the stuff they do.

          I see a lot more PHP. I don't like PHP but point is you should be able to get another successful "Paul Graham" to say their secret sauce was PHP.

          So I'd take Paul Graham's "wisdom" with a dollop of salt.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @07:46PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @07:46PM (#1212744)

      There are real limits to the possibility of "buying" a silicon valley. I'd say there is some possibility, but all of the recent attempts have gotten the strategy 100% wrong.

      Tax breaks for big corporations will absolutely never get you there. They can be a part of a strategy. But it's a real misguided idea that comes from the sorts of politicians who kinda-sorta paid attention in high school level remedial economics in college but never thought much about any of it. Silicon Valley doesn't really require that much manpower. And the manpower it does require is generally very smart, highly skilled, highly paid, etc., and consequently can be very selective about what they want to do and where they want to live. It's not like setting up T shirt factories of something where you just need some generic jobs in a place to attract some generic labor. The simple text book example of lowering taxes leading to investments in production from Chapter 1 doesn't map very well to the real world where you have more than two variables involved in the equations.

      So some high level senior programmer looking at places where they might want to live doesn't care that if he moves to Cousinfucker Florida, his employer will be paying less in taxes. The nature of the job market for those senior engineers that make or break tech is that you are in a highly competitive global labor market. People in San Francisco will pay that senior engineer just as much money. So the engineer starts looking at other things about that location like schools, infrastructure, weather, culture, and other job opportunities down the road. Some stuff like weather is out of a city's control. Other stuff like infrastructure is intentionally kneecapped if you try to structure your whole local economy around low taxes! So you are basically hoping that the low taxes are going to attract enough companies that you get some Network Effects, and the location will seem appealing because 5 years from now, you'll have lots of local job opportunities. That's a pretty Meh gamble for moving your family across the country.

      On the other hand, if you spend all of your money on the tech labor instead of the tech companies, the companies are more likely to follow. It's the exact opposite of the "low taxes solve everything" approach to business friendliness. Invest in great schools, have good infrastructure, grow a theater and arts scene, etc. Support little local startups that are waaaaay cheaper to make happy than big megacorporations to start developing some of the network effects on a smaller scale. IF you spend all of your money trying to buy Silicon Valley workers, you've got a shot at doing something. May work, may not. If you spend all of your money attracting Silicon Valley corporations, they are gone as soon as they get a better tax break offer from your rivals across the river. A community is a much stickier thing than a corporation. I might have sounded moderately eccentric a decade ago. But in an age of remote work, it's easier than ever to attract the engineers independently of the corporation.

      The "low taxes is good for business" mantra is stupid and narrow minded. In some cases, lowering taxes will be a good thing. But that's not always true. It's not always the case that reducing taxes is an optimal strategy for anything but reducing your tax revenue that is needed for useful services.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:28PM (#1212771)

        Have you seen the exodus from the SF/San Jose area? Those policies have been driven to their extreme conclusion, and companies are bailing for other (lower tax) states. Cheaper housing and less crime, too. High taxes also goes hand in glove with increasing govt control over how you do business and how you live. (That's what the tax money is for.) The entrepreneurial drive is crushed.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @06:05PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @06:05PM (#1212718)

    I read a very good book on this topic a few years back: https://www.amazon.com/New-Geography-Jobs-Enrico-Moretti/dp/0544028058 [amazon.com]

    In short: Industries benefit from being concentrated in one place. The network effect is very strong. Employers attract employees. Employees attract employers. Ideas get disseminated where people hop from one job to the other in the same industry. People that are willing and able to move can take advantage of it. People who are unwilling or unable to move are screwed.

    • (Score: 2) by legont on Friday January 14 2022, @06:57PM (1 child)

      by legont (4179) on Friday January 14 2022, @06:57PM (#1212736)

      Yep. In short, the main driver of capitalism is not competition, but cooperation. Liquor stories, bars and whores tend to concentrate in one place very much the same as high tech joints.

      --
      "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @08:36PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @08:36PM (#1212757)

        Those businesses are not cooperating. They are operating in the area allowed by zoning.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @06:10PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @06:10PM (#1212720)

    Silicon Valley didn't happen because of public investment, or as originally stated: "broad, sustained public investment"

    Want proof? The world is chock-full of places that received broad, sustained public investment. Most of them went nowhere, flamed out or even ended up as public budget sinkholes. The military-industrial complex in the USA alone is a rich source of examples. Seattle was supposed to be an aerospace mecca, and looked like it for a while. There was no shortage of money flowing in, the government did everything in its power to glad-hand everyone from Boeing's unions to various airlines. Now it's an afterthought with a few airports and airbases, but the accident of the computer, software and ecommerce industry landing now has a much bigger profile on the air quality in town. (Or does anybody here think that Boeing, which moved its HQ out ages ago, and is moving production out as fast as the NLRB will let it, swings a bigger dick than Google, Tableau and Amazon?)

    What other examples? Detroit sucked in vast quantities of government money, but the expertise rippled outwards and the industry couldn't keep up localised prominence and sources of innovation.

    Enough about the USA, how about Europe, as another area that has wealth, expertise and a big-money attitude to making things happen? Kind of weak sauce there in terms of world-changing sources. Sure, they stand up software-based projects per mandate, but the kind of ferment of innovation? The closest thing that I can think of is the dutch dance music industry.

    What made Silly-con Valley possible was that there was an industry that the little guys could get in on, that depended heavily on low capital investment and broad applicability, and a minimum of hands-on interference from self-important bureaucrats. This produced a snowball effect because it looked like a low-input, high-return industry, which is a capital investor's wet dream. However, we're now in a position where software delivery is beyond one or two dudes in a bedroom (indie games notwithstanding), hardware delivery is a heavy industry equivalent in terms of investment, and so Silicon Valley is a big, dominant industry with a heavy concentration of expertise that is rolling on its own momentum. Creating momentum from the ground up is incredibly expensive.

    Looking to create the next one? Keep regulations lax, keep education (NOT certification or credentialism!) free or cheaply available, and keep infrastructure reliable. Then turn your population loose.

    Fund hobbyists and maker spaces, if you have to splash cash.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @03:19AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @03:19AM (#1212843)

      > how about Europe

      I give you England's Motorsport Valley https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorsport_Industry_Association [wikipedia.org]
      > Around 4,000 companies in the UK are involved in the motorsport industry, with an annual turnover of around £9 billion, with around 70% being exports.[2] It spends 30% of turnover on research and development.[2] There are around 25,000 qualified engineers involved in the UK industry. [sources are from 2010, numbers are up significantly since then]

      https://medium.com/inside-the-motorsport-valley-the-biggest-hub-of/the-motorsport-valley-the-biggest-hub-of-motor-racing-in-the-world-ab13e16e4d36 [medium.com]
      > During the Second World war, the Thames Valley became important centre for aerospace engineering owing to its location which was ideal for building and servicing aircraft. Post the war many of the airfields and their engineers were no longer needed. This concentration of engineering talent was easily transitioned into motorsport alongside the abandoned airfields which proved to be the perfect infrastructure for racetracks. These conditions were too ideal to resist, and the valley saw motorsport companies flocking down to establish themselves here. The rest as they say was history — and the Motorsport Valley® was born!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @04:12AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @04:12AM (#1212855)

        Sure, but point out what happened there: it wasn't the government deciding to do something, but more like opportunity based in the government's leftovers. The education and infrastructure were there, and thus you had an established surplus. It was a toybox after the adults had left the room, and a lot of inventive children looking for something to do, and a place to play. Everything flowed from that. It wasn't about a bunch of civil servants deciding that what the nation needed was a lot of racing technology in the Thames Valley.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by VLM on Friday January 14 2022, @06:13PM (1 child)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @06:13PM (#1212721)

    Austin—has remained largely unchanged since the days of 64K desktop computers and floppy disks

    My understanding of Austin, never having lived there, is in the 70s there was a HUGE push for music trying to steal the Nashville effect from Nashville, then in the 80s they had a huge economic problem with the savings and loan scam real estate bubble, then right around the turn of the century it financially recovered and tech companies just barely started moving in, arriving in precisely on time for the dot-com crash, and then GW Bush as part of transition from governor to president made some deals that began to kick Austin into high gear WRT tech.

    I also heard a long rant along the lines of the usual gentrification problems where Austin used to be "cool and unique" but all the interesting places and interesting people of the 60s and 70s were kicked out around the turn of the century by exploding rents and replaced by soul-less corporate drones whom ironically only came there because of the "cool and unique" people whom are now long since kicked out and gentrified away so in his opinion in his parents days in the 60s Austin was super cool but now its boring soul less corporate land almost as cultureless and devoid of life as downtown Manhattan or LA, best avoided if possible. Or in summary, he's not a fan of recent developments in Austin, recent in the sense of post 1970s era.

    That's what I heard from my coworker. Texans are kinda like pilots or vegetarians where you'll never wonder if someone's a Texan, a pilot, or a vegetarian because they won't shut the F up about it. Which in this case means I know a little Texas lore about Austin, some of it possibly even true.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @08:09PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @08:09PM (#1212750)

      I lived several years in Austin in the late 80s. Loved the place, but I was in my early 20s and my weekly food budget was about $20, so I really got to know the city's nooks and crannies and where all the cool free stuff was, so I really developed an affection for the place. I'm told now that it is a much different place. The airport moved out of the city, a HUGE convention center popped up, etc., and that the place really lost its unique charm. I'll have to go back someday and see, but being 30 years older, I'm sure it won't have the same allure, not getting to look at it through twenty-two-year-old optimistic eyes. I'm sure eventually Ken's Donuts will turn into a Dunkin and the Iron Works BBQ will become a Ruby Tuesdays (thankfully it looks like both of them are still there) and Austin will have completely regressed to the mean, but hopefully that time is still a ways away.

      Texans are kinda like pilots or vegetarians where you'll never wonder if someone's a Texan, a pilot, or a vegetarian because they won't shut the F up about it.

      OMG, that is WAY too funny, and WAY too true (I've known all three types!). But remember that Austin was always the island of liberalism and other evils, as seen by the rest of the state. When I lived there, I met a young lady who grew up in Waco, not too far up the highway, and she told me her mother had great reservations in sending her to Austin for school because Austin was filled with Catholics and other undesirables.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by mr_mischief on Friday January 14 2022, @06:32PM (11 children)

    by mr_mischief (4884) on Friday January 14 2022, @06:32PM (#1212728)
    Everyone trying to recreate the business climate of Silicon Valley as it is will fail. The first step is to recreate the conditions that gave rise to it.
    • a world-class private university like Stanford
    • world-class public universities that are very affordable like UCSF and UC Berkeley
    • at the time, fairly cheap land prices for building the office and factory blocks
    • some amount of generational political upheaval and change in values about how things are done
    • groups of individuals from larger companies who can afford to and who are motivated to strike out on their own as founders (Fairchild, etc)
    • a new sort of technology niche not already dominated by big players elsewhere (the Valley broke away from mainframes into minicomputers and microcomputers)
    • social groups interested in a topic that meshes well with the industry (the computer user groups, the Well, conventions, etc)
    • interesting problems to solve as a professional and as a hobbyist, encouraging the type of passionate bottom-up startup like Apple, Atari, or HP

    Places like Atlanta, LA, Austin, Houston, Chicago, London, Glasgow, Utrecht, Berlin, Tallinn, Osaka, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Taipei, etc can become great pockets of the current industry, but its home is still Silicon Valley. Some new niche in the technological marketplace needs to be found to create an analog to it. Shenzen seems to be the place to build things for other companies, and South Korea or Taiwan the place to make the chips to put in them. That's the sort of focused niche necessary. Robotics seems to be poised for this around Boston, what with MIT, Harvard, BC, BU, UMass, NYU, Princeton, Columbia, Penn, Carnegie Mellon, and more within easy recruiting distance and with Boston Dynamics, Barrett, Bluefin, RightHand, Piaggio, etc. Denver's building a nice local industry too, though, and of course SF/the Valley has its own contenders in the space.

    Here's an example. Houston has a medical district where 21 hospitals, many clinics, and multiple medical schools have tax incentives to be near one another. It includes the world's largest cancer hospital and the world's largest children's hospital. The local public library system has a medical library there. There are over 50 member organizations in the district corporation, mostly with a presence within the official 2.1 square mile area. The area includes a Shriners' Hospital, a large VA hospital, and a dental school. Besides the medical schools within it, it's adjacent to Rice University and near the University of Houston. There's been work ongoing to have a business incubator campus and program for startups in the medical, practice services, and adjacent fields. There's a decent chance Houston becomes a real center of medical and med tech innovation around this.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @07:51PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @07:51PM (#1212746)

      at the time, fairly cheap land prices for building the office and factory blocks

      People absolutely underestimate how much of a factor this was. Before the tech boom, Silicon Valley was a *cheap* place to make a little startup. That's why there are so many founding myths of tech companies started in garages -- they had no money! Fostering broke local startups is a big piece of the puzzle that a lot of the attempts to make knockoff Silicon Valleys don't get. They want a big centerpiece company like Google or Apple to come to town. They have very little interest or understanding of the 50 or 100 folks that have ideas that could be the next Apple that already live in the area.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @08:40PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @08:40PM (#1212758)

        Google and Amazon are startups like GM and Ford are startups.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:17PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:17PM (#1212768)

      This has a lot to do with it. There is also geographic aspects. When Silicon Valley started, available land was, well, available. Everywhere. As Silicon Valley grew so did almost everywhere else. Today, the best places to build a city, and build an industry, have been used. To build things already. What's left are places that are not as good, or accommodating, or cheap, or close, or any number of other factors. We've found and used the good places. No one is going to build the next Silicon Valley in the middle of South Dakota. Or Eastern Montana. Or Wyoming. Or Kansas. Or Oklahoma. Or Arkansas. Or Mississippi. Or [pick any other less populated place]. The locations that have cheap and available land, don't have the other stuff and aren't appealing to the builders.

      So, are we stuck with what we have? No. Not really. The next Silicon Valley, IMO, will be remote and/or virtual. A workforce scattered everywhere, not centralized in a building or a campus. That is the next Silicon Valley. In fact, Web3 companies who are focused on a remote first employee model may be the leaders in creating the next Silicon Valley.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:31PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:31PM (#1212773)

        Flyover America is not as dire as the Coasties like to think.

    • (Score: 2) by Rich on Friday January 14 2022, @09:25PM (6 children)

      by Rich (945) on Friday January 14 2022, @09:25PM (#1212770) Journal

      Don't forget the military money. Once you have mentioned conditions in place, which are a pretty good sum-up, large amounts of money have to be poured over it. With the condition of getting something equal in value in return. The tax breaks and subsidies in all the attempts are neither large (in that sense), nor bound to any tangible success expectations. The Silicon Valley got a good percentage of the whole money spent on the cold war, including Vietnam, to provide innovations to stay on the edge of technology. That can be seen in the early 80s, when the Japanese took over a good part of the market, because they built their industry to compete commercially, while the Americans still made their cash of the milspec parts, while also catering to a few happy hobbyists.

      I wonder if a bounty or goal oriented scheme at proper scale might help. Have the government (or a related company) issue a request for offers over 200 million RISC-V CPUs, Quad Core, 2.5GHz, 4-issue out-of-order at max. 50 bucks each - to be designed and manufactured locally. (With a few lines of fine print to give some to those coming in second as well, or a bit more or less if certain tech milestones (EUV) are met, etc...). Cash on delivery, the banks will be better to judge whether any investments will bear fruit... Once the chips arrive, sell them at a price where 10 million every month are taken, wedge them into the mainstream market, and take that over. Oh, and also use the GDPR with full force and ensure you also get the whole software platform for that.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:35PM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @09:35PM (#1212775)

        You're not supposed to mention defense spending. The leftist media always credits acid-dropping hippies: their own kind. Never mind how an acid-dropping hippie is supposed to design and manufacture the microprocessor he writes the software to run on.

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Rich on Friday January 14 2022, @09:48PM (4 children)

          by Rich (945) on Friday January 14 2022, @09:48PM (#1212780) Journal

          Oh, you're ALSO going to need the acid-dropping hippies for new ideas to get stuff for free. Intel catered to boring calculator companies with their first micro, Motorola made the 6800 be for industrial controls. It took the hobbyists to build themselves cheap computers "like the big expensive ones". And one particularly obsessive, sociopathic, acid dropping hippy to package that stuff for general consumption. The rest is history and just crossed $3tn in market cap. Serious business people would never have thought to cannibalize themselves by offering cheap computers for everyone.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @10:11PM (3 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14 2022, @10:11PM (#1212784)

            Steve Wozniak was not an acid dropping hippie. I know he's been "forgotten" but without him, Apple would never have happened. He designed the computer all by himself. Steve Jobs just sold them. So it took the pair to make Apple succeed, but could you at least mention Woz?

            • (Score: 2) by Rich on Saturday January 15 2022, @12:11AM (2 children)

              by Rich (945) on Saturday January 15 2022, @12:11AM (#1212804) Journal

              could you at least mention Woz?

              He was included in the "hobbyists" part. Probably the best of them.

              Long time ago, I reverse engineered the Woz Machine and wrote firmware for the re-creation, which ended up together with a 6502 in a standalone floppy drive with a serial connection. I think mostly for SGI workstations in a textile manufacturing market niche, where knitting machines were driven by custom Apple II setups and the "industry standard" to pass to production were Apple II DOS 3.3 disks. A friend wrote the logic for DOS 3.3 file access that completed the product. From that point of view, I would've had to include Randy Wigginton as well. :)

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @01:43AM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @01:43AM (#1212825)

                Just a nitpick: a hobbyist is someone who does something in his own time for his personal enjoyment -- not something he does for a living. Woz was employed as a digital electronics engineer for Hewlett Packard, so I would not call him just a hobbyist.

                Interesting anecdotes!

                • (Score: 2) by Rich on Saturday January 15 2022, @02:07AM

                  by Rich (945) on Saturday January 15 2022, @02:07AM (#1212834) Journal

                  If I remember the lore right, he did offer his definitely hobbyist inventions to HP, but they weren't interested.

                  --
                  When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Friday January 14 2022, @11:32PM (1 child)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14 2022, @11:32PM (#1212799) Homepage Journal

    No one has mentioned one thing that fosters the kind of originality that breeds multiple competing startups:

    A legal system that does not recognize or enforce non-compete agreements between companies and employees.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @01:49AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @01:49AM (#1212830)

      This allows mobility of employees and ideas.
      It is also effectively an anti-trust (anti-monopoly) measure.
      Of course, after Silicon Valley became truly big business, the big companies established "anti-poaching" agreements to not hire each other's employees. Steve Jobs' Apple and some other companies were sued over this.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @11:39AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @11:39AM (#1212894)

    These assholes gave us a monopoly on computer operating systems (microsoft) a couple of surveillance engines (google, facebook) a petty microblogging platform; and by this time it's devolved into adhd inducing garbage like tiktok and popularity glorification websites like instagram, and by this point I can't even keep up...

    We live in a society that has literally worshiped a fucking marketing genius as a hero...

    Here's a fucking clue for you. If you tap an oil reserve, and pump it dry, guess the fuck what? It's GONE and it AIN'T COMIN' BACK! On the converse, if you plant a fucking tree, and it produces fruit; you can eat it, and plant more trees. How about them apples eh?

    Maybe if we, as a species, can evolve into something collectively a bit different from a virus, viroid, or parasite, we might start to get somewhere... At best, we could be said to be some sort of bacteria or fungi, collectively..

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @02:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15 2022, @02:56PM (#1212923)

      Parent said:
      “These assholes gave us a monopoly on computer operating systems (microsoft)….”

      Microsoft is from Seattle. It never had anything to do with California. It also shows that a dominant software player DOES NOT need Silicon Valley. What a company does need to become dominant is a lucky break and people smart enough to pounce on it.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @09:42AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17 2022, @09:42AM (#1213365)
(1)