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The Secrets of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley has been the focal point of substantial technology innovation for many years. Hewlett Packard was the original Silicon Valley start-up in the 1930s and since that time, a huge concentration of technology companies have grown up in the area – Google, Cisco, Facebook, Intel, Apple, Yahoo!, e-bay, Oracle, Symantec and Adobe, to name just a few.

The heart of Silicon Valley is the city of San Jose,which is the tenth largest city in the US and situated south of San Francisco. Around San Jose are a myriad of small towns, such as Mountain View, Menlo Park and Palo Alto. But why has this relatively small geographic area, also known as the San Francisco Bay Area, been such a good place to innovate in technology? What makes Silicon Valley so special and what can the UK learn from this experience?

While I was in San Francisco at the AAA conference, I had the chance to investigate these questions and understand better how the environment works. I was aided in this task by a panel discussion held by the Association of Chartered Accountants in the US , as well as meetings with members and non-members with distinct perspectives on the topic, from angel investors to the finance director of a start-up business. This article reflects on a few of the main themes in my discussions trying to understand some of the secrets of Silicon Valley’s success.