On September 7th I went for a study trip to Silicon Valley with 6 entrepreneurs from Groningen and Drenthe and a group of twenty entrepreneurs from the incubators YES! Delft, UtrechtInc and Kennispark Twente. This study trip was about connecting to the Silicon Valley network; to learn more about doing business in the USA; and above all: get inspired.
Before I make my full report on all the facets of the study trip I am writing this post about the company visits of today (Friday 10th September).
While driving in Silicon Valley you are in the middle of the world of ICT and Internet. It is like spotting movie stars in Hollywood. All famous companies are here, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Symantec, etc, etc. All of them located in big and beautiful buildings under the California sun. Silicon Valley is a super cluster of technology in an area of about 15 by 15 miles.
Today, thanks to the NBSO organization, we had the opportunity to visit three renowned Silicon Valley companies: Intel, Facebook and Yahoo!
Our hotel is located in Sunnyvale and after a 15 minutes bus drive we arrived at the Intel HQ. An Intel guide showed us around in the Intel museum where we learned how the chip developed from 2500 transistors in 1968 to a 2 billion-transistor chip today. Yes, the Moore’s law (named after Intel founder Gordon Moore) is still pretty accurate.
Later on we went for a drink on University blvd in Palo Alto/Stanford University, the place where Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs and other Silicon Valley pirates get their Starbucks.
After the short break we had a warm welcome at the HQ of Facebook (you know, the biggest social network in the world!). The building was very modest without bells and whistles. When we entered the big open space it looked like a playground. Hundreds of desks with big screens surrounded the aquarium-like office of Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook). Hundreds of young people were working, discussing, going for lunch or were just having fun in the game room or sports field. It looked like a University canteen mixed with an incubator for student entrepreneurs. Our guide told us that Facebook is very strict in being informal. People who work here hate corporate environments. To emphasize this they’ve introduced the corporate Friday, the only day people are allowed to wear a suit or tie. It was big fun being at Facebook. The only “formal” thing was the NDA we had to sign before we were allowed to get in. I hope I didn’t shared confidential information on this blog :). Of course I couldn’t resist to leave a tag of YEAH! at the Facebook HQ wall (look for the text “YEAH!” in the picture).
At the end of the day we went to the Yahoo! Campus. The capmus looked more like a theme park than a company. We were welcomed in the main building which contained game rooms, shops, purple cows, fitness clubs, free smoothie bars, etc. It was a nice tour and we learned a lot about the strategic direction Yahoo! is taking. The company has lost the search battle with Google and couldn’t be saved by the hostile take over attempt from Microsoft. Now Yahoo! is focussing on the creation of (video) content and connecting apps and web 2.0 elements on existing content. The future of Yahoo! is going to be interesting.
After 8 hrs of impression we got back to the hotel, totally exhausted. We had a great day and I think everything that is told about Silicon Valley was confirmed during these visits. It is an inspiring and crazy place where you live and breath technology, entrepreneurship and above all fun.