Guy Kawasaki on creating the next Silicon ValleyIn what is evidently a completely random coincidence (at least according to Guy), ex-Apple tech/VC-luminary Guy Kawasaki has written his own blog post on what it takes to create the next Silicon Valley just a few days after fellow tech-blogger Paul Graham wrote on the same topic - which I commented on here and Joel Kotkin responded to in a 3-part series on the new Inc. blog (part 1, part 2, part 3). Here's a collection of random excerpts/points and my thoughts on Houston:
- "Beautiful, but not gorgeous, surroundings." Although I myself find Houston (aka "Tropical Texas") moderately attractive, I think the consensus is that we don't measure up so well here. But wait...
- "If a place is gorgeous, like Hawaii, then the distractions are sometimes too great. Some place in the middle is what’s ideal. At the very least, it would be good to have a lousy season so that the company can be extremely productive part of the year." I think this is mainly a nod to Microsoft in Seattle, where people have commented that the rain keeps the programmers indoors and focused. So, one lousy season - check for Houston. Can you guess which one?
- Paraphrasing Guy: high-housing prices to discourage family formation (which discourages long hours and risk taking) and overcrowding to encourage envy, critical mass, and a desire to get rich and leave. These two are his most whacked-out criteria, and it seems like some kind of cause-effect logic error where he assumed those characteristics must be helpful because SF/SV and Boston have them, and they're tech hubs.
- Absence of multi-nationals to suck up your talent. Definite problem for Houston: #2 city for Fortune 500 HQs, not to mention the majors with huge offices here but not their headquarters: Shell, Exxon, Chevron, BP, etc.
- "If a region has to do nothing more than stick a pipe in the ground, throw a net in the ocean, clean beaches, or manage a natural seaport, it’s going to be tough to be the next Silicon Valley." A couple more knocks for Houston, although we don't physically stick pipes in the ground here anymore, nor is our port natural.
- "Focus on educating engineers. The most important thing you can do is establish a world-class school of engineering. Engineering schools beget engineers. Engineers beget ideas. And ideas beget companies. End of discussion." Agreed. Rice is great but undersized (compared to Stanford or MIT), and I've heard good things about UH's engineering school, but I don't think we're there yet.
- "You need to encourage smart, hungry, and aggressive people to immigrate from around the world. And to do that, you need good schools." Check on the former, partial-check on the latter.
- "Here’s a dirty little secret: Silicon Valley is more a state of mind than a physical location" I think most people would agree that Houston has a somewhat similar entrepreneurial/wildcatter business culture - we just need to transfer it into the tech universe.
I'll wrap up with a couple of his most interesting quotes from the beginning...
...to my knowledge, there has never been any “master plan” for the creation of Silicon Valley. What stands before you is an amalgamation of hard work, luck, greed, and serendipity but not planning. Indeed, Silicon Valley has probably worked because there was no plan. (Houston - check)...and the end...
There’s one more thing you need to do: Aim higher than merely trying to re-create Silicon Valley. You should try to kick our butt instead. That’s true entrepreneurship.Hear, hear!