Guy has come up with a great article on How to Kick Silicon Valley’s Butt. Guy’s extensive experience advising Apple’s independent software partners, and years of advising startups shines through. If only politicians would listen. Here are my favorite pointers
ON ATTRACTING AND HARNESSING THE CREATIVE CLASSES
- Beautiful, but not gorgeous, surroundings California is beautiful. The weather is good. It s fun to live here. No matter how great an entrepreneurial environment Cleveland creates, it s always going to have people wanting to move away.
- High housing prices. If houses are cheap, it means that young people can buy housing sooner and have kids. When they have kids, they can’t take as much risk and don’t have as much energy to start companies.
- Cities, crowds, and high- if not over- population. The pressure of these conditions make people jealous of each other; this in turn makes them compete. Cities also bring people together to work. People can’t telecommute to a startup. People need to get together to bounce ideas off one another, argue, and cajole.
- Absence of multi-national companies, especially the finance industry. If your companies have to compete with conglomerates or banks like Goldman, Sachs throwing money at people, it’s going to be hard to get anyone for a startup. Pity the startups in New York, London, and Singapore.
- 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.
If I had to point to the single biggest reason for Silicon Valley’s existence, it would be Stanford University—specifically, the School of Engineering. Business schools are not of primary importance because MBAs seldom sit around discussing how to change the world with great products. Mostly they care about how to get interviews at multi-nationals and consulting firms.
- Send the best and brightest to Silicon Valley. I can hear the complaints already: “This will lead to a brain drain which is exactly what we are trying to prevent.” This attitude misses the essence of entrepreneurship: it’s not about preventing bad things, but fostering good things.
The goal is to infect them with the disease called entrepreneurship and show them that there can be more to life than “a job;”. Sure, some people will never return—like me. But those who do return come back with a much broader perspective on what life and a career can be. Maybe they will build another Silicon Valley because they’ve seen it done before. Here’s a dirty little secret: Silicon Valley is more a state of mind than a physical location, and you can’t alter a state of mind by staying a home.
- Celebrate your heroes.Every region needs its heroes. These folks take role modeling to an extreme; they have names like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Steve Case, Anita Roddick, and Oprah Winfrey. Kids need heroes, so that they can say, “When I grow up, I am going to be the next Steve Jobs.” In many places, a successful person is pulled back down because of jealousy. Sure, there’s jealousy in Silicon Valley, but our way of dealing with it is to try to outdo the person, not pull her back down.
ON THE GOVERNMENT NOT MEDDLING
- The short answer is that the government should not do much except provide more funding to the engineering schools.Unfortunately, that probably won’t seem like enough to most people.
- Dont create a venture capital fund. The thinking here is that a government created venture capital fund would kickstart entrepreneurship because of the influx of money. However, if there’s one thing you can depend on in venture capitalists, it’s greed. If you show them good engineers with good ideas for good companies, they will appear by (private) plane, canoe, dogsled, and camel. Such a region doesn’t need to create a fund. A supply of capital does not create demand from entrepreneurs–at least not the kind of entrepreneurs that you want.
Guy has definately burnt his bridges with European politicians. Most European politicians know that you cannot delegate entrepreneurship and economic growth to the market and the masses. All you get is creative destruction, market disruption, and upset all the old encumbent monopolies. You bad boy !
Jacques Chirac, the french president, is so upset with these Google upstarts, his government is funding a French alternative. The state knows best.
A case in point are the entrepreneurs that have been successful in continental Europe. Disrespectful, unpredictable, and irreverent. Why do these individuals always try to beat “The System”?. How is a career politician supposed to work with individuals so outside the established network. They don’t even wear suit and tie!
Joking aside, the proportion of successful EU entrepreneurs that secured their funding from US and UK sources rather than EU sources is sadly high. Obviously, there is nothing quite like greedy money.
Guys definately pulled his punches on labour laws. Mr Paul Graham seriously let rip on the need for labour flexibility at the recent Amsterdam XTech conference. Not a popular view in France.
Guy has my vote for EU president.