“No World Changing Tech Company Has Ever Been Founded Outside Silicon Valley and None Ever Will in Our Lifetime.”
An Osage spy in his second year at Stanford GSB recently passed along the above direct quote from one very highly regarded GSB lecturer:
Funny – this Bay Area world view is more common than you think between highways 280 and 101. I like the “ever” and I like the future hubris. Really? REALLY? Wasn’t he kidding around? Apparently not. I am sure the Romans felt the same way two thousand years ago while forgetting about the contributions of the Greeks and not anticipating their own ultimate decline.
When I got to the Bay Area in 1989, it didn’t have the same attitude. It was actually a refreshingly grounded place versus the New York City I had left behind. Over the past 20 years, Silicon Valley has enjoyed an enviable run, producing a lot of great companies and creating an eco-system that others are trying hard to copy with varying degrees of success. But the attitude behind the quote suggests a “fin de siècle” for this particular region of the country. Other regions will succeed and will ultimately dilute the Silicon Valley preeminence and great companies will emerge from wherever there are great people and meaningful capital to deploy.
As a mid-Atlantic investor, I love this west-coast attitude. It creates huge opportunities for non-Silicon Valley entrepreneurs building capital efficient businesses based on real domain knowledge they built within the industries they are now targeting. Silicon Valley has great investors, great entrepreneurs, and great businesses being built there but when you believe that good ideas don’t exist further than the distance you can drive with one charge in your electric car, you get into trouble. Remember what MY guest lecturer at the GSB, Andy Grove, told us – only the paranoid survive. This current quote is not the voice of paranoia, but that of self-satisfaction.
As for responding to the quote – is it really worth an exhaustive list? Texas Instruments (first semiconductor – tied with Fairchild), ATT, IBM, Lotus, Wang, DEC, AOL, Microsoft to name a few. By the way – where was Facebook founded? Most world changing businesses are created on the foundations of what others built before and innovation knows no borders. Feel free to send me other names and we will post in a follow-up.
By the way, I chose not to name the lecturer but, maybe not surprisingly, he is a former venture investor.