Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Friday January 14, @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?


Original Submission

 
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Reply to Comment Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by tekk on Friday January 14, @04:29PM (19 children)

    by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @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.

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +3  
       Insightful=2, Interesting=1, Total=3
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @04:37PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @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, @04:39PM (2 children)

      by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @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, @05:45PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @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, @07:11PM

          by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @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, @04:47PM

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

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

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by HiThere on Friday January 14, @06:21PM (2 children)

      by HiThere (866) on Friday January 14, @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: 3, Insightful) by HiThere on Friday January 14, @06:29PM

        by HiThere (866) on Friday January 14, @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, @08:10PM

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

        Sorry, physical proximity is necessary.

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

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14, @04:43PM (4 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14, @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.

    --
    John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @04:50PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @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, @05:00PM (1 child)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14, @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.

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @06:05PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, @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, @08:45PM

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Friday January 14, @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: 2) by crafoo on Friday January 14, @06:46PM

    by crafoo (6639) on Friday January 14, @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, @12:43AM (2 children)

    by D2 (5107) on Saturday January 15, @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: 2) by TheGratefulNet on Saturday January 15, @03:48PM (1 child)

      by TheGratefulNet (659) on Saturday January 15, @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, @09:32PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, @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, @02:08AM

    by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Saturday January 15, @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, @03:43PM

    by TheGratefulNet (659) on Saturday January 15, @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."