The nickname Silicon Valley was introduced in 1971 by an American local journalist, Don Hoefler, who was inspired by the concentration of semi-conductor companies in the Santa Clara Valley, California. The Silicon is the main raw material used to produce chips in the electronic and computer industries.
After a period of decline, the Valley gained a new momentum with the boom of the internet. An increasing number of start-ups, benefiting from a unique innovative environment, excellent universities and research centres, managed to soon become the worldwide leaders we all know today.
With its 6.5 million inhabitants, the San Francisco Bay is the most important technological hub on earth. Graduates from all over the world, especially in engineering, software development and business, keep being attracted by this American golden El Dorado of the 21st century. On top of offering very competitive salaries and challenging jobs, the Silicon Valley companies are considered the new Holy Grail for those who wish to climb the social ladder fast.
It is also the place to be for a new generation of entrepreneurs that perfectly understood the importance to be close to the big players in order to raise funds, gain reputation and get a share of the huge technological cake (by often selling their unicorns at very high prices).
The Cambridge Analytica case (in which Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are involved) pointed out the increasing influence of the Silicon Valley. Those companies have collected so much data that they now seem to be able to jeopardize some aspects of the Western democracies.
Over the next decade, the US tech companies, among them the famous GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), will have to deal with the society’s growing concern about the protection of data and the Chinese (maybe European) competition that could question the Silicon Valley supremacy.
In any event, the Silicon Valley will remain a myth, a legend, a place that changed and influenced the worldwide economy.
© Christophe Chabert