Tag: Silicon Valley

Ralf HallerRalf Haller October 18, 2013

Silicon Valley looking for talent

I had the chance to visit the Silicon Valley two weeks ago with some Swiss economic development officers and Swiss entrepreneurs. We saw some of the hottest startups and also some who are – possibly – becoming very hot and set to expand soon – also to EMEA.

Every time I am in the Valley I get this excitement and energy burst that is so special. The folks that came along also felt like that, so it is not unique to me.

Silicon Valley is hot again. Big Data, Software-defined networking, security, cloud infrastructure are some of the current waves that are attracting hundreds of millions USD of venture funding. Companies are hiring and talent is limited and a precious resource. One VC told us that he is very interested in looking at Swiss startup business plans. Of course what they have in mind is moving the people over and profiting from that talent pool. At the same time startups in Switzerland do not understand some of the basics that made the Valley such a success. Stock options and being part owner of a startup is the base of it all, something that is still not understood here as only the founders are owners. As long as that is still back-to-front there is no chance to get even a little slice of the success. Startup culture and Europe seem as far apart in this way as the European and US continents.

Silicon-Valley-Map

Ralf HallerRalf Haller December 12, 2009

Latest impressions from the Silicon Valley

Just came back from a week long trip to the heart of the tech world, Silicon Valley. It was unusually cold for December, at night even freezing. Now back in Zurich, it is snowing right now, which is more normal weather here for this time of the year. So what is going on in Silicon Valley? Following are a few personal impressions and views:

Startups continue to have a hard time getting funding, in particular if they are with more unknown VCs, as those might simply not get new funds from their institutional investors anymore who prefer to use the money for something else. If you are with a top VC firm, though, there should not be a problem. Focus is on getting revenue and with that proving that you have a viable business. Not so exotic for the rest of the world of course. It seems that Silicon Valley is becoming more mainstream.

There is still very interesting stuff being done that will surface in a few months from now and IPOs are being prepared as well, although not knowing if they will then really pull the trigger and go public. I have also seen startups who have just received a new round of funding and are now super busy with tons of work racing to be first in the market with new features. Such setups are fun to work for and reminded me of the high (and unreal as it turned out then) times end of 1999.

There are still the smartest and most ambitious entrepreneurs to be found here, it seems, but you also meet people who feel tired of the constant rush and begin to wonder if there are better things to do in heir lives than work. :-)

Now if you are ambitious and love technology I am sure there are great opportunities and some that one only finds here. Being asked what they think about Europe, most will tell you that the focus is on Asia and China, and Europe is often seen as second priority. Of course this entirely depends on the product market, where some require a more mature customer base or where the conservative approach in Europe towards adopting new technology is easier to deal with than the super cheap but maybe not that advanced competition in China who can still sell there but not in Europe.

On a personal level I had some funny experiences. E.g. I clearly had the impression that food has got better. It is still about one third to half the price of what you pay in Switzerland and, when you choose to go to an expensive place, it will be a very pleasant surprise to get really excellent food. Competition and fewer people going out has led to this positive effect, I guess. I also discovered more of San Francisco on this trip. It is technically speaking not Silicon Valley of course but has now some also interesting startups and some tech companies (Adobe) who tap more into designer types than engineers. I really like the office space there in SOMA which are old totally renovated brick warehouses with wooden beams inside, which makes for a very pleasant working atmosphere. And one really funny fact I heard from an ex-colleague who works in San Jose but lives in San Francisco. He said that for a man looking for women you need to go to San Francisco as the ratio of men to women is still healthy there, while in Silicon Valley you find many more men than women, which also has a certain negative effect on their attitudes (details of that I won’t reveal here but I am sure you can guess :-) )

Ralf HallerRalf Haller July 17, 2009

How are things going in the U.S.? Impressions from a 10-day trip

I just came back from a 10-day business trip to the U.S. having been on the west coast mainly.
It is obvious that the economy has been hurting for quite a while now. This can be seen literally on the street with less traffic (relatively speaking only as it is still bad in peak times), areas such as south of Seattle where whole neighborhoods seem to be up for sale (hundreds of meters of For Sale signs) and stories of startups who can’t get any funding anymore at all, plus people struggling to find new jobs.
Still I got the clear feeling that the bad times have hit the bottom and that things are improving.
Also the latest financial results from companies like Intel or IBM show this clearly. Not to mention
the stock market where the NASDAQ had a big rise this week, so folks are speculating that it will get better too.
One ex-colleague of mine who used to live in Silicon Valley and went back to Switzerland 6 years ago, has decided to move back to the U.S. and bought a house in Mountain View for his family (3 kids) just this Monday. He told me that he got already quite a few job offers, which makes him believe that there are options for him. In Europe he could never find a challenging HW engineering job in the datacom industry and had the feeling that most Swiss companies he talked to were very stagnant, doing the same as they did more than 10 years ago and happy with that – but of course being hit hard now due to their inflexible business attitude. House prices are low so he might do quite well I think. Still, banks are asking for 60% down payments as in his case, which is ridiculous of course.

(Photo credit: www.pbase.com/camera0bug/image/13107594)