I am where it happens, where today’s Internet powerhouses have their headquarters, where startups get off the ground and are then bought up by these powerhouses for hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, and where many brilliant minds are trying to find the next invention that will be as revolutionary as the steam engine once was.
Silicon Valley is the focal point of innovation. The world’s leading universities – Stanford and Berkeley – are headquartered in the San Francisco area, and it is usually students from these schools that create companies like Google and Facebook. It almost seems like everything that drives life today is developed, invented, or perfected here in Silicon Valley. Are Americans or the people in the Valley more intelligent? Are they smarter than we Europeans?
To gain an understanding of what happens here, I will spend the next two months in the Valley. I have set up shop close to Stanford University and the headquarters of companies including Google and Facebook to take a closer look at how innovation happens. I am certain that the people here in the Bay Area are no smarter than the people in Europe – even with the most intelligent people in the world studying and working at Stanford and Berkeley.
But some things – no, many things – are done better here in the Valley: The conditions for innovation management and realization are right, and young entrepreneurs are motivated to believe in themselves and to turn their ideas into reality. The overall concept in the USA is better in terms of taxes, the attitudes of billionaires towards investments, risk capital and the like. And unlike in Europe and especially in Austria, the government has set up an attractive tax system.
Over the next two months, I intend to document how we can profit from this concept, what we can adapt and bring over to Europe to motivate our (young) pioneers to invent the next “steam engine.” Because everyone who has a good idea can change the world.
I will meet dozens of experts, university professors, and CEOs of large and small companies, I will speak with students and visit meetups – as nerd meetings are called – and I will talk to Austrians who are successful here. Mario Herger, former SAP employee and one of the world’s leading gamification experts, is one of them.
The project kicked off at Cafe Venezia in Palo Alto – one of the many places where startups meet with VCs (venture capitalist), where you can sit next to investors and accelerators and strike up a conversation, exchange business cards, and arrange meetings. On the very first day, Gil Ben-Artzy was sitting at the table behind me. Co-founder of the Israeli accelerator Upwest labs, which sold one of its startups, Slicklogin, to Google in autumn 2013. Slicklogin developed a replacement for web passwords in which access is granted on the basis of high-frequency sounds.