What Is Silicon Valley?
Silicon Valley is the nickname for a part of the San Francisco Bay area in California that is home to several high-tech and innovation companies .
In addition to the famous San Francisco, the Northwest California region is made up of cities such as Santa Clara, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Jose, Menlo Park, Oakland and Sunnyvale.
The list goes on and on, as there are dozens of cities, one next to the other, forming a large metropolis that surrounds the bay.
The name of Silicon Valley is informal, so we don’t need to waste time trying to define exactly which cities make it up and which ones are left out.
The important thing is to know that the valley is characterized by being a place where ideas and startups emerge that impact the whole world.
As an example, let’s cite just five companies founded and based in the region that speak for themselves: Google, Apple, WhatsApp, Uber and YouTube.
Another giant, Facebook, sprang up at Harvard University on the other side of the country, but is headquartered in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley.
The origin of the name lies in the chemical element silicon , one of the most abundant on planet Earth.
In addition to being used in the production of metal alloys, in the manufacture of silicone and in the ceramic industry, silicon is a semiconductor element.
This is its relationship with the high-tech industry, as we will explain further in the next topic.
Why Is Silicon Valley So Named?
Many people wonder the origin of the name Silicon Valley , but the truth is that there is not much mystery in this sense.
The “Valley” part can be explained geographically , since we are talking about a region formed by a long depression in the middle of some mountains.
The “Silicon” part has to do with the first companies that settled in the locality in the second half of the last century.
Brands such as Intel and AMD manufactured electronic chips, which had the chemical element as the main raw material.
Apparently, journalist Don Hoefler was the one who christened the region that houses San Francisco Bay Silicon Valley .
The reporter wrote a series of articles for Electronic News in 1971, in which he used that name.
From then on, Silicon Valley became the name everyone referred to the locality.
The History Of Silicon Valley
Many think that the history of Silicon Valley is recent.
This impression exists because the technology companies installed there have been at the “crest of the wave” for years.
Their market value continues to rise, following the growing influence of their products and services.
But the story began a long time ago .
Some consider the garage where William Hewlett and David Packard founded the HP company in Palo Alto in the late 1930s to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley.
Another notable event was the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor in San Jose in 1957.
Semiconductors are elements capable of changing condition, from insulator to conductor, with great ease.
Because of this characteristic, they are essential in the production of electronic equipment .
Fairchild ended up playing an essential role in the American space plan.
Later, semiconductor technology was used in the microprocessors of the first personal computers.
At that time, the famous Intel had already been founded in 1968 by two former Fairchild employees.
The place? Santa Clara in Silicon Valley.
From this scenario, investor Ralph Vaerst coined the term Silicon Valley , in a series of reports published in 1971 in the publication Electronic News.
Today, companies in the region not only stand out for their hardware, but mainly for the services generated from algorithms.
The nickname, however, was not abandoned.
In addition to the presence of technology companies , the region has Stanford University , one of the best in the world, known mainly for forming brilliant minds for this industry.
All this contributed to creating in the population of the region an extremely welcoming mentality for innovative solutions.
Which makes it easier for new startups to test their products to get quick and precious insights, contributing to an agile culture , as we talked about in the introduction.
What Characterizes Silicon Valley As A Technology Hub?
It is impossible to disassociate technology and innovation from knowledge.
In this sense, some of the main educational institutions are located in Silicon Valley, such as Stanford, Berkeley and Santa Cruz universities.
With these centers close by, several investors and entrepreneurs end up migrating to the region , as they have easy access to disruption.
And it’s been that way for a long time.
During the Cold War, when the Russians launched Sputnik I, the US needed to fight back, and while the creation of NASA was a major milestone, it had to hire skilled manpower to win this special race.
It was then that the US government turned to professionals from Fairchild Semiconductor , a technology company located in the San Francisco Bay, to meet this demand.
In other words, from very early on the region was linked to innovation and entrepreneurship.
This added to the abundance of opportunities and money (since the gold rush in the 19th century) make Silicon Valley a reference in the field of technology.
No wonder, the main companies in the segment (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Samsung, Facebook and many others) have headquarters, offices, factories and other types of business in the region.
It is a reputation that has been built over the years and has been consolidated over time.
Who Owns Silicon Valley?
Silicon Valley is not specifically owned, but as some of the world’s leading companies are headquartered in the region, it’s impossible not to associate money with power.
After all, eight of the top 10 billionaires in the world have active businesses or some kind of connection with the world’s main technology hub.
- Elon Musk, founder of Tesla
- Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
- Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft
- Larry Page, co-founder of Google
- Mark Zuckerberg, partner at holding Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp)
- Sergey Brin, another Google co-founder
- Steve Ballmer, Former Microsoft CEO
- Larry Ellison, founder and chairman of Oracle.
How Important Is Silicon Valley To The World?
For the American population, Silicon Valley is important as a region of great wealth and employment generation .
Every successful technology company moves a whole chain of products and services around it.
But the valley matters not just to the United States.
Its startups take technologies like artificial intelligence , machine learning and big data to another level.
With real products and services , these solutions are no longer concepts and become part of our daily personal and professional lives.
This results in more comfort, greater efficiency in companies and new forms of communication.
In the case of social networks and instant messaging applications, the contribution is to increase connectivity between people.
Which expands the possibilities of advertising, marketing and relationship of a brand with its customer, for example.
Other companies have different collaborations.
Based in Mountain View, Coursera, for example, has developed an online learning platform that connects users to leading universities around the world.
Uber, on the other hand, created a more comfortable and cheaper means of transportation than taxis, and it has also become a source of income for many people who register as a driver.
The importance of Silicon Valley, therefore, is that it creates products and services that impact the entire world .
Of course, some of them end up with harmful side effects, but we assume that technology and innovation exist to promote development and improve our lives.
What Are The Top Companies In Silicon Valley?
In the San Francisco Bay Area, companies such as Wells Fargo have sprung up.
Visa, founded in Fresno, Calif., is now headquartered in Foster City, Silicon Valley.
Chevron, one of the largest oil companies in the world, was founded in Texas but is headquartered in San Ramon, also in the valley.
In other words, it’s not just high-tech companies that set up shop in the region.
However, we will highlight below the most well-known companies around here, and that helped make Silicon Valley a reference in innovation for the whole world.
Adobe is one of the companies that invests most in marketing and design solutions.
Surely you’ve already used some of its applications, such as Photoshop, Acrobat Reader or Illustrator.
In all, the company has more than 10,000 employees, more than half of which are based in São José.
Founded and based in the city of San Francisco, Airbnb is a company that created a platform where people advertise rooms or entire properties for rent .
You might not recognize it by that name, but Alphabet is the conglomerate created by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, which runs Google itself and other related companies.
It is based in Mountain View.
Considered one of the most valuable brands in the world , Amazon also has its Silicon Valley headquarters in Menlo Park.
The flagship of Jeff Bezos’ company is the marketplace, however, the company has increasingly invested in other technological solutions.
Apple is perhaps the most iconic tech company in the world.
Founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, it is a world reference in the production of beautiful and efficient computers, tablets and smartphones .
Based for many years in Palo Alto, Dell moved its main office to Texas, however, it still continues with operations in Silicon Valley.
In 2012, for example, the technology company invested in a Customer Center in California with the aim of improving relationships with consumers and bringing them closer to the product development processes.
Founded and based in San Jose, eBay is a global trading platform where users advertise products of any kind.
With over three billion users worldwide, Facebook is the most popular social network on the planet.
It was created by Mark Zuckerberg and the Brazilian Eduardo Saverin, among others, at Harvard University.
Today, its headquarters are in Menlo Park.
LinkedIn is yet another social network based in Silicon Valley.
The platform specializing in professional relationships is located in Sunnyvale and is gaining a lot of space within the niche in which it operates, offering simplified recruitment options for companies and potential candidates.
Of course, one of the most famous tech companies in the world wouldn’t be without a place to call their own in Silicon Valley, either.
The headquarters of Microsoft, a company created by Bill Gates, is located in Menlo Park, and continues to be a reference in its segment .
The movie and series streaming service that won the world was born in Scotts Valley, 40 kilometers from San Jose.
The headquarters are today in Los Gatos, a city on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay metropolis.
Founded in Santa Clara, Oracle is a giant in the development of software and database systems.
Currently, its headquarters are in Redwood City.
PayPal is a financial transfer platform that has revolutionized the way online payments are made around the world.
He talked about innovation and technology, talked about Silicon Valley.
The company’s headquarters are in San Jose.
The Pixar animation studio was born in the north of the bay, in Richmond.
Today, its headquarters are in the county of Emeryville.
Samsung is yet another tech giant to have an office in San Jose, Silicon Valley.
The company rivals Apple to be the number 1 in the development of ultramodern smartphones in the world and has the main competitor as a neighbor in the region.
A film producer, electronics manufacturer and developer of proprietary technologies, Sony is headquartered in Silicon Valley.
A few years ago, the Japanese company created an arm just to take care of the entertainment part , Sony Interactive Entertainment, with an office in San Mateo.
After almost 20 years based in Freemont, Elon Musk decided to migrate from Silicon Valley to Texas, in a trajectory similar to that taken by Dell and other technology giants.
Still, Tesla will continue to make its electric cars in California and hopes to explore the region in other ways.
The world’s leading social networks are in Silicon Valley.
Twitter, based in Menlo Park, completes the team of relationship platforms located in the world’s main technological hub.
The controversial application that has revolutionized urban transport in several countries around the world was born and is currently based in San Francisco.
WhatsApp is a fever, a phenomenon of instant communication .
The company, which is now owned by Facebook, is headquartered in Mountain View.
The Yahoo! finalizes our list of companies based in Silicon Valley.
Based in Sunnyvale, this company, which is one of the pioneers of the Internet , was once the most used search platform in the world, before Google and Bing took that position.
Finally, YouTube, the world ‘s leading video hosting and sharing service , is located in San Bruno.
It currently belongs to the Alphabet group, the same as Google.
What Is Produced In Silicon Valley?
Now that you know some of the top companies based in Silicon Valley, you understand that the region creates a wide variety of products and services .
What is different is that many of them offer virtual products, which allow great scalability.
That is, they are able to meet an increase in demand without having to expand their structure.
An example is Facebook , which makes money from its ads tool.
A user can use it on his own, without the help of any vendor.
So, if overnight there was a 20% increase in demand for ads, there is no problem.
Another interesting example is Uber .
When he is present in a new city, it is clear that there is a laborious process of relationship, publicity and regularization.
Once this is done, it is not necessary to select employees to drive the cars, but to approve requests from users, who sign a contract with the company, but are not its direct collaborators.
It is because of this ability to increase revenue without spending on infrastructure expansion that these companies are so valuable.
For comparison, think of Detroit, which was the birthplace of the auto industry.
If an automaker needed to expand its production, it would need a bigger factory, more employees and more raw materials.
This represented a certain risk, as there were no guarantees that the investment would pay off.
In the Information Age , in which we live today, the risks of entrepreneurship are still high, but the consequences of failure are smaller – it is possible to restructure with ease.
Can I Visit Silicon Valley?
The importance of Silicon Valley is such that the region has become a tourist spot in the United States.
Many people take advantage of California attractions like Hollywood, Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate and beautiful beaches like Santa Monica Beach to add the technological attractions of the biggest innovative pole to the itinerary.
In addition to company headquarters, you can visit universities, sustainable buildings, research centers and even museums.
In other words, a tour of knowledge for you to enjoy Silicon Valley.
Another good news is that you can see the main tourist attractions in a single day .
For this, the tip is to rent a car early in the morning, drive a few kilometers and return it at night.
What To Do In Silicon Valley?
We have separated a small itinerary for you to enjoy the main attractions of Silicon Valley, come check it out:
NASA Research Center
The US space agency is headquartered in Mountain View, which has an open area for visitors.
At Nasa’s Ames Visitor Center you can travel back in time and find out more about the agency’s space projects and missions, and buy some licensed products.
Moffett Field History Museum
In the building attached to NASA’s, you will find the Moffett Field History Museum , a museum about the history of military aviation.
There, you will be able to check the evolution of aircraft from the 1930s to the present day, and the best, without paying anything for it, as entry is free.
Computer History Museum
Also in Mountain View is the Museum of the History of Computing , a place that records the evolution of this technology so essential to us.
From the most rudimentary calculators, through gigantic machines, developed by the military and prototypes that were never commercialized, to the most modern devices today.
The entire exhibition is supported and sponsored by Bill Gates.
Steve Jobs Garage
Continuing your journey, between Mountain View and Cupertino is the municipality of Los Altos, a city that was the birthplace of one of the main technological revolutions of the modern world: the birth of Apple.
It was in a simple garage that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created one of the world’s leading companies.
As it is a private property, you will not be able to enter the enclosure , but nothing prevents you from photographing the facade of the property.
Stanford University is one of the most renowned in the world and is a mandatory stop for anyone visiting Silicon Valley.
If you have more time, you can dedicate a whole day to explore the institution’s gigantic campus, which has historic buildings, beautiful gardens, sculptures by Auguste Rodin and the imposing Hoover Tower.
Also include in your itinerary a visit to the headquarters of some companies in Silicon Valley.
Google and Apple, for example, have visitor centers open every day , but you can expand your options a little more by scheduling other tours.
With good planning and showing corporate interest, it is easier to get a guided tour of the offices and factories of the main organizations in the largest technological hub in the world.
Are There Any Entrepreneurship Courses In Silicon Valley?
Has your Silicon Valley tour left you so impacted that you now want to go study there?
There are several courses on entrepreneurship, exchange and even networking experiences carried out at the technological center.
Below are some options that we have selected for you:
- International Executive Education Program in Silicon Valley : a week of immersion with classes, lectures and mentorships
- Graduate studies at Stanford University : various courses and programs in the field of business
- Graduate at the University of California at Santa Cruz : an alternative for those seeking extension courses in administration and entrepreneurship.
Silicon Valley: Facts
To feel even more attuned to the atmosphere of Silicon Valley and to get informed about the region, here are some curiosities about the best-known technological hub in the world :
Silicon Valley even had an uninviting nickname for tourists and investors: Death Valley.
The name gained strength in the mid-1980s, when the discovery of the Internet brought great uncertainty regarding professional reality.
Many believed that traditional jobs and the human workforce would “die”, being replaced by technology.
Over time, these fears were not confirmed and what was seen was a “peaceful coexistence” between machines and people.
Robots Through The Cities
Although the whole story of robots replacing humans looks more like a science fiction movie script, don’t be surprised to see some androids strolling through the cities of Silicon Valley and, especially, in factories and other establishments.
This is because there are some prototypes developed that perform simple and mechanical tasks, such as delivery of orders and serial production of parts.
Speaking of Hollywood productions, Silicon Valley was the subject of a TV series produced by HBO.
Silicon Valley had six seasons (2014-2019) and narrated, in a fun and relaxed way, the saga of six programmers in an attempt to build their careers in the world’s main technological hub.
Inflated Real Estate Market
Living in Silicon Valley is extremely expensive .
It is not by chance that engineers and other professionals who work in the main companies in the world based there opt for peculiar alternatives of residence.
Some choose to live in their own offices, others prefer to live in trailers and even shipping containers.
All to try to circumvent the high rents in the region.
Caution, Earthquake Risk
If the high cost wasn’t enough, Silicon Valley has another point that can drive some people away from residing in the region.
This is because the technology hub is located on the banks of the San Andreas Fault , bringing seismic instability and being a favorable place for earthquakes.