Jim Morris's Thought of the Week (or month, or year, ...)
Monday, June 12, 2006
Silicon Valley is Different
When I look at Silicon Valley with my Pittsburgher’s eyes, several things strike me.
It’s in California, but it’s not laid back. People here are overworked. Engineers and business men and women work 60-hour weeks, and they are the lucky ones. Service workers and others without high-tech skills work 80-hour weeks on multiple jobs. People here might seem friendlier than Easterners, but it’s the way flight attendants are friendly until the flight is over. Everyone is polite and pleasant, but it’s all business. If you try to get away from it with a leisurely bicycle ride, you’re run off the road by packs of whippet-thin cyclists on $5,000 bikes wearing all spandex.
In most places, changing jobs frequently is bad for your resume. In Silicon Valley it’s good. If you’ve been working at the same company for ten years, it shows either that you are not a risk taker or that your co-workers, who left the company for a start-up, didn’t take you along.
Ann Saxenian believes that Silicon Valley thrives because its workers and investors have no company loyalty. Their loyalty is to the “next big thing.” When that next big thing was the PC, they abandoned companies like Hewlett-Packard, which was making mini-computers, and they went to Apple Computer. In contrast, Boston was dominated by Digital Equipment and Ken Olson, who didn’t believe in the PC.
Silicon Valley is not driven by visions. New ideas and visions are needed, but they are plentiful everywhere. The businesses of Silicon Valley are driven by people who have discipline and focus. They live by the motto “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
See http://www.paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html for some more thoughts/
posted by Jim Morris @ 2:38 PM