Wednesday, March 5, 2008

There is Only One Silicon Valley

MENLO PARK. Will there ever be another valley? A shining refuge of innovation culture and daring venture capital? Europeans and Asians alike sure hope so. Enormous amounts of yens, euros and kronor are right now being poured into Medicon Valleys, Telecom Valleys, Fiberoptic Valleys or whatever valleys getting policymakers aroused and reaching for their tax-dollar-wallets.

So - is it possible for them to replicate the success of Silicon Valley?


That is the crude answer - delivered by no less than Dan Maydan, former president of Applied Materials, and Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame laureate.

He goes on after a while - reluctantly, as if the "no" answer should be more than obvious and quite sufficient.

"I think it's almost impossible," he says, further twisting the knife in the stomach of everyone that's ever uttered a sentence that involves the words "creating a cluster".

"It's all about culture. And one thing that is really hard to change, that is cultures."

It's hard to generalize, he acknowledges, but: The French are too analytical, Chinese people way too subdued and... yeah, well... let's stop right there, before we stir up a diplomatic icestorm.

Okey... how do you build successful innovation company then? If you're Swedish, French, German or Chinese?

Dan Maydan does not ponder.

"The first step is to move to Silicon Valley."

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