If there is an epicenter for the folklore around people starting multi billion dollar companies out of their garage, Silicon Valley would surely be it.
The garage where Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett founded the Hewlett-Packard Company (HP as it’s known today) has long been Silicon Valley’s number one startup garage. Now, 26 years after it officially became a California historical landmark, there’s a new garage aiming to take a shot at the title.
In 1976, Steve Jobs started Apple Computer in the bedroom of his childhood home in Los Altos (which is still under the care of his sister Patty) and in startup land fashion, the garage was used to assemble the first Apple I circuit boards. The home and garage really haven’t changed much from the days that Jobs lived in this unassuming neighborhood. However, one big difference is that it is now one of the top technology pilgrimage sites in the Valley and probably the entire world.
Located at the center of Stanford University, the Stanford Memorial Church was built by Jane Stanford as a memorial to her husband Leland. Dedicated in 1903, the church was one of the earlier non-denominational churches on the West coast of the United States and survived through two major earthquakes in 1906 and 1989.
It’s easy to lose track of time in Startup Land due to the fact that we only have two seasons: “warm” and “less warm”. However, we do have some obvious visual clues (leaves falling, colored lights, fleece, etc.) as well as a few seasonal markers.
My new favorite is the opening ceremony for the Mavericks Invitational surf competition. Every Fall 24 big wave surfers are invited to the legendary break near Half Moon Bay. The opening ceremony, which took place this past Friday, marks the beginning of the Mavericks season (November to January). Why is there a “season” for Mavericks you ask? The conditions have to be just right for the big waves to materialize, otherwise there is no contest. Since Mother Nature is hard to predict, the call only goes out to the invited surfers with just a few days notice.
Jeff Clark, contest director and Mavericks pioneer, refers to opening ceremony as a “gathering of the tribe” – a time for family, friends, kids and the local community to come out to the beach and meet surfers (something you can no longer do during the actual contest).
After mingling with the crowd, the competitors all line up for photos and are handed Hawaiian ti leaves. Speeches are given. Then the ceremony concludes with the surfers paddling out into the ocean where they form a floating prayer circle to commemorate the event, show respect to fellow surfers and their safety, and pay tribute to those who have died.
The view of Startup Land as day turns to night. One of those lights is a billion dollar startup waiting to happen.
When it comes to turning a startup into a multi-billion dollar company, entrepreneurs know that success often requires great timing as well as some good, old fashioned luck.
Unfortunately, luck doesn’t grow on trees or else it would be for sale on every street corner here in Startup Land. However, it turns out that getting the right office space might just be the next best thing.
That right, certain office spaces in Silicon Valley appear to be more lucky that others in terms of housing successful startups. The best example of this is 165 University Avenue or “The Lucky Office” as it’s referred to by valley insiders. This downtown Palo Alto office building has served as the first office for technology giants such as Google, Paypal, Danger, and Logitech when they were first starting up.
Regardless of whether or not you believe that this office has anything to do with the success of its tenants, many startups vie to lease space here hoping that the building’s luck will rub off on them next.
One of the great things about living in Silicon Valley is how easy it is to get out of it when you want to. The Pacific coastline is 32 miles due West and is a popular day trip for Valley dwellers looking for a bit of time with the ocean. There are dozens of beautiful beaches between San Francisco and Santa Cruz all with unique features and shores.
However, don’t get your hopes up for a sunny warm day at the beach. The Pacific is way too cold to swim without a wetsuit and it’s not uncommon to experience fog, wind, and pounding surf. You’ll need a warm coat to appreciate the magic.
Just west of Stanford University is an open space preserve in the foothills called The Dish Area, more commonly referred to as “The Dish” by locals. The preserve’s name is derived from the 150 foot diameter radio telescope built there in 1966 by Stanford Research Institute (SRI) for the U.S. Air Force. Originally built to study the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the radio telescope is still in use for various government operations such as satellite calibrations, spacecraft command and radio astronomy measurements.
Also home to local wildlife and various Stanford University research and conversation facilities, this unusual spot is visited by over 500,000 people each year that come to walk or run the picturesque “Dish Loop” – a 3.3 mile trail that winds through the preserve.
For me, The Dish area is special because it symbolizes where the science and technology of Silicon Valley meet the natural world. As you walk up and down the hills of the loop, taking in the sweeping views of the Bay Area (on clear days San Francisco is visible), the giant satellite dishes and antenna arrays might serve as the backdrop for a roaming mountain lion, a red tail hawk hunting ground squirrels, or fog clouds rolling in from the coast.