Friday, March 6, 2009

Thoughts on Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good

While reading Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good by Sarah Lacy, I've been wondering about the Silicon Valley built by insiders and what was built by outsiders. Several "old tech" bastions like HP (both founders grew up in Palo Alto and the area), Intel (Moore, born in SF), and Apple (Jobs and Woz, from Homestead High School ) all have strong links between their founders and growing up in the Valley. On the flip side, many of the companies started during the opportunistic dot com boom were started by outsiders who flocked from MIT, Urbana-Champaign, and other such places (PayPal and others started this way). However, there's no super-strong trend that I can state. However, what I want to explore is if there is an effect here... what does a company started by someone who grew up in the Valley look like?

I've found in my work at Homestead FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) that many kids whose parents work at tech companies and who see VC's Ferraris driving around Sand Hill and Foothill have a different view of the world than those who come here with a EE/CS degree in hand. Realizing the potential and culture of the Valley early on in one's life has to have some sort of effect - does it make us more wary or get us started earlier? Definitely, we tend to consider venture as a much more likely source of funding of startups than do people who see business start on the East Coast, where loans are more the norm. Entrepreneurship seems to be baked right into us, whereas coming out of East Coast schools, investment banking is more the norm and entrepreneurs are more like the golden nuggets stashed away, waiting to pop out. I'm going to have to keep reading this book, but there's something here.

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