If you have been away from the San Francisco area for a while and have just come back then you realise how much it has transformed. Call it what you wish – either a boom, a bubble, or a flood of money that revitalises old techology that is now redundant – the reality of the Bay Area has definitely been augmented.
There used to be a stark divide between the Southern and Northern half of California. Hollywood and Silicon Valley were not necessarily at odds with each other, but there were definitely differences. Now, Silicon Valley is still the hub for all of the technological advances that are introduced to the rest of the states and the world. However, San Francisco is becoming somewhat more like their Hollywood younger sibling. More people are cultivating scripts, brainstorming
their ideas, and pitching their innovations to anyone who will listen.
Silicon Valley is becoming a “dream machine” where entrepreneurs want to start new business ventures, pitch things, and try to find new ideas. “It’s a brave new world now,” a middle-aged individual recently told a young and ambitious entrepreneur. “In order to survive, new companies must create something that wasn’t there before. They cannot just save somebody money now.” During that same gathering, another venture capitalist lamented the fact that they turned down
Uber when it was a new company and said that it was a “failure of imagination” on their part. They were too busy focusing on the potential legal obstacles to a smartphone driving service instead of the convenience and moneymaking potential that such a service might bring.
Silicon Valley – Artist: Karen Young (Source)
Indeed, the old method of doing things is increasingly becoming obsolete. The San Francisco Chronicle is still an important institution, however, it is becoming a bit more thin then it was before. Entire districts are becoming chic around the China Basin, with companies such as Apple levelling a city building to put in a Foster and Partners retail destination. Moreover, the city now plays host to a number of sleek bars as well. Truly this is an exciting time in the Silicon Valley as we are increasingly becoming witness to a time period where a set of technologies are working together in an unexpected manner. The most notable designation would be in the interaction between mobility, robotic technology and artificial intelligence.
Andrew McAfee, who was co-author of The Second Machine Age, actually had the experience of being transported in one of the most famous of the latest innovations: that of Google’s self-driving cars. He described the experience as “terrifying, but thrilling, and then boring all in the space of 15 minutes.” He reported that the machine has a competent driving style that is somewhat tedious, resembling a nervous student in driving school.
Innovations such as facial and voice recognition software, computers that can sift through complicated databases, and the ability of these same computers to comprehend adult speech and thought, is becoming more and more commonplace.
Because of this investors are literally lining up to put money on the start-ups that they feel will go a long way and become the next big thing in the Silicon Valley. Indeed, many individuals are more afraid of missing out on the anticipated boom then they are of losing money. Moreover, some people are even responding with reckless abandon in this brave new world. Of course, there have been a number of busts throughout the years, including that of the “dot-com” bust of 2000. Of course, the new money this time would appear to be coming from the more “non-traditional” variety of investor. According to a recent study by Silicon Valley Law Firm Fenwick and West, over three-quarters of the “unicorns”, or startups valued at $1 billion or more, have investors who are non-traditional.
Of course, the dirty little secret lies in the fact that Wall Street needs Silicon Valley more than they need Wall Street. The investors could easily lose their money when a great deal of the unicorns perish. But in the meantime, Silicon Valley is definitely a fun place to be. So yes, Silicon Valley is a true Dream Machine.