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Thoughts by José Luis Agell
Silicon Valley: two difficult ingredients
February 19, 2009Posted by on
I am writing this post from the Caffé del Doge in Downtown Palo Alto, after an intensive working day. I have been targeting new clients for 3scale and trying to find the way to contact the key people to set up partnerships. I am happy with the results.
Definitely, the Silicon Valley is an interesting ecosystem where lots of things evolve, and evolve fast. I am wondering what makes it so unique in the entire world. Why don’t we have such an “entrepreneurial hub” in Barcelona or somewhere else in Europe? I still don’t have a concrete answer for that but I am starting to glimpse some of the reasons.
Paul Graham, in his essay “How to be Silicon Valley”, says: “I think you only need two kind of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds”. So simple, so difficult. If the recipe were so simple, it would have been replicated in many other parts of the world.
The first ingredient is clear, money matters. Entrepreneurs need people who trust them and are willing to invest in their ambitious projects. Europe might have lots of fortunes, but has very little venture capital.
The second ingredient is not that obvious. The word “nerd” is used to say that a person is extremely interested in technology or any other intellectual activity (like a freak). It has a derogatory connotation though. I guess nerds generally combine two main qualities: intelligence and passion. I will underline the passion because this is a key factor that has captivated me since I first came to the Silicon Valley. The only way to encourage innovation and to make a real change after several failures (how important is the permission to fail!) is to inspire passion into individuals.
I think that we, Europeans, have a strong feeling of humility. We are realistic and tempered (which can be also very important for the business management) but it seems that sometimes we are too afraid of dreaming.