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What Is Silicon Valley?

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We have all heard of the world-famous Silicon Valley, and how it was responsible for the creation of technological giants all the world. But what exactly is Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley is a name popularized by a guy named Don Hoefler, in a magazine article in 1971. It is a region in the San Francisco Bay Area in California that has become the global center for technological innovation and social media innovation. Before being popularised as Silicon Valley, it was called as simply Santa Clara Valley.

The word “silicon” refers to the silicon chip innovators and manufacturers in this area, which later became home to high-tech corporations. Today, it hosts the headquarters of 39 of the Fortune 1000 companies. Most of the largest technology companies in the world are situated within the SF Bay Area and Silicon Valley area. A few examples are HP, Apple, Facebook, Ames Research Lab, Lockheed Space Systems, FitBit, Fairchild Semiconductor, Adaptec, Intel, Yahoo, Oracle, Salesforce, Airbnb, National Semiconductor, YouTube, Netflix, AMD, Cisco, Barracuda, Dolby, DocuSign, Logitech, Solectron, SanDisk, Uber, THX and many, many more. But how did this particular city become such an important tech hub that global conglomerates ended up setting up their headquarters here?

The legend of Silicon Valley goes as far back as the 1920s. A professor named Dr. Frederick Terman from Stanford University requested the administration of the university to make cheap land available for leases around the Stanford area for tech students to start their own start-ups in and near the university. At the time, Stanford owned a huge amount of land around the SP Bay Area and modern-day Silicon Valley.

Two of Dr. Terman’s notable students were David Packard and William Hewlett who bought this land on lease and started producing oscilloscopes for the government in Palo Alto. Later on, they would go on to become the global giant HP. Similarly, many such students began setting up their careers around this area, and over time, more and more scientists and engineers were lured to the west coast to sell their services or start their own businesses. The lure was huge at the time as they came to the west to escape the old-fashioned corporate bureaucratic constraints from the east coast corporate world. Robert Noyce was the one who helped create the quintessential Silicon Valley casual-corporate culture where private offices were shunned, people collaborated more and there was a heavy emphasis on team-building, and failure was considered fine and innovation was heavily encouraged. In addition, if an employee wanted to quit the company to go start their own business, it was not considered loyal and the business did not burn bridges with this employee. In fact, these businesses would end up collaborating further with their previous employees, helping them earn business and creating a culture of mutual benefit above egotistical tiffs. This was a very novel concept as back in the day, a lot of people would start working at a company at the age of 18, and would only quit upon retirement at 59!

So today, the concept of Silicon Valley has only remained as a state of mind above all else. There are similar Silicon Valleys which have cropped up everywhere around the world. The most important influence Silicon Valley had all over the world was a dynamic shift in our approach to corporate culture. These days, firms attempt to advertise themselves to potential employees as “Silicon Valley firms.”

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