May 17, 2012

AnnaLee Saxenian Discusses Facebook IPO and the History of Silicon Valley

From the San Jose Mercury News

O'Brien: Facebook reminds us that whatever its flaws, Silicon Valley works

By Chris O'Brien

As Facebook leaps off the precipice into the stock market, there's been a lot of talk about its business model, or its amazing stock price, or why GM dropped its ads.

But take a moment to step back. Forget the looming competitive threats, stop thinking about its $100 billion market cap. This is a moment to savor the much more important story that Facebook tells us about this region....

Amusingly enough, the one thing that hasn't adapted is the name. "I'm struck increasingly that we still call it Silicon Valley," said AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the School of Information at UC Berkeley. "Semiconductors have long not been the leading industry of this region."

In 1994, Saxenian wrote "Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128." The landmark book, which I read just before moving here in 1999, mapped the reasons the valley's economy had thrived and evolved with technology changes, whereas onetime leader Boston had seen its tech economy stall.

The book explained that what appeared from the outside to be a chaotic approach to business -- people hopping jobs, intermingling, sharing ideas, collaborating with colleagues from other companies -- was in fact the secret to the valley's success. It was a dynamic to be emulated, not controlled....


Last updated:

October 4, 2016