I just came back from Silicon Valley and also finish watching the two seasons of the homonymous TV Show.
If you are not an entrepreneur or a VC you can’t possibly understand half of the terms used in that TV show. But if you are one, you can perceive a number of nuances that are very close to the truth in the complex mechanisms of the relationship between start-up and capital.
The show is, voluntarily, grotesque (so that neophytes can find it also funny, because it is) but if you look at it with a business eye you will realise how different is SV from the rest of the world.
Here is few facts I came back from my quick Californian trip :
- “what do you do” is one of the first question (often before ‘whats your name’) that people ask when they meet you for the first time,
- SV is the corner of the world with the highest number of Fast Wealth people, with unprecedented proportions,
- there is a calvinist approach to business : you build and sell companies only to build and sell bigger companies, and rarely get satisfied or condescendent about ‘I have enough’ (I am borrowing this concept from a dear – Italian – friend of mine living there for a while now and during dinner we talked a lot about the boundaries between wealth and ‘no need for an income’, both leading to – in theory – a better life quality but only if your mentality is right)
- the competition is fierce, for everything. Talent, capital, branding, sales. You almost feel guilty if you are not systematically at the top of your game. Very Darwinian…
- the ‘give back’ to the community (once you have made your wealth) is much more common than in the rest of the world. No wonder you have the two biggest philantropic organisations of the world headquartering there,
- appearance is way less compulsory that elsewhere : value matters way more that formalities,
- personal relationships are at risk : not only (if you are not two Italians) is virtually impossible to meet on the spot, but often it passes way after most of the business imperatives. Shallowness is sometimes the consequence.
If I compare London to Silicon Valley, the difference is just so important I wouldn’t even know where to start, but one thing is certain : two third of the most successful companies in SV were built by foreigners.
The question everyone is asking stands still : what will be the next Silicon Valley ?
Many cities in the world are looking to build the next FinTech leading eco-system (see my FinTech Game of Thrones post) and for most of them SV is the model.
My question would rather be : de we WANT another Silicon Valley?