Silicon Valley

Home of the largest technology and startup community in the world
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 to Thursday, March 31, 2016

Introduction: the startups are calling

My journey to San Francisco brought me closer to the Silicon Valley. This is basically the southern part of the San Francisco Bay and of great importance to the computer industry. The name arose around forty years ago, when the silicon chip triggered the personal computer era. Today, the region is famous for its many large tech corporations as well as startups. Its influence stretches up to the heart of San Francisco. What this means, I was up to discover for myself.

San Francisco: total startup vibe in SOMA

Over the past decades, the Silicon Valley has expanded. Its legacy has overtaken an entire district of San Francisco: the so-called South Of Market (SOMA) is in firm hands of technology companies. Here, everybody is somehow related to a tech startup, is working on the next big idea or at least pumping up the skills. On every corner, you find an academy or bootcamp to boost your personality. Endless co-working spaces offer the best infrastructure and take good care of talents. This is the perfect breeding ground for innovation.

Bay Area: when startups become mature

The whole Bay Area is packed with technology companies. Along the commuter train from San Francisco to San Jose, reside the most famous startups of this century. Starting in Menlo Park (Facebook) you can easily walk through Palo Alto (Stanford University, Tesla Motors) to Mountain View (Google, Linkedin). While the townships have preserved their original charm, most corporate headquarters lie outside in sterile concrete and glass cubes. These complexes are small towns by themselves.

Networking: where the tech industry meets

Meeting interesting people from the tech industry is not difficult at all. There is an abundance of networking events and conferences. A lot of them are free and even offer food and beverages. On such events, I have met dozens of rookies as well as experts in the industry. The number of socialising tech geeks is just incredible. With this amount, it is hard to keep the quality of events and topics high. However, I am very happy with the way I spent my time.

Visiting: sneak a peek behind the curtains

Thanks to my networking, I was able to visit some offices. Most companies are quite open, once you know one or two employees. Nevertheless, I was truly honoured to get several private tours behind the security check. Every noteworthy office in the Bay Area has its own canteen with fresh food and snacks. More than once did I enjoy a delicious meal with one my new friends. My biggest highlight was the Google office on the very last day before leaving the States!

Participate: time to give something back

Every community needs active participants. As an experienced professional, I did not just want to consume what others created. After more than a decade of learning on the job, I was more than happy to commit for a pro bono consulting. I could contribute some valuable expertise to a growing startup. On the weekend, I also mentored a bunch of graduates before their entrance into the industry. My personal grand finale was a presentation at a conference.

Summary: being part of the tech community

Experiencing the new Silicon Valley spirit is overwhelming. Without any difficulties, I could enter and enjoy this fascinating world. It was a great honour and please for me to connect with the epicentre of the internet. As a lifelong user and advocate of digital and online tools, I finally met (some of) the creators and innovators. After all, it has felt a little like coming home.

It was an honour being part of this vibrant community. I will be back!