On a tour like the #blogbus, you find out the schedule a few weeks or a few days in advance and you naturally want to go and see the big companies, or rather, the best known. Telling others you’ve been to Facebook, Google or Twitter always gives you a feeling of prestige. However, the nice surprises, the ones that really make you sit up and take notice, that have the wow factor, come from elsewhere.
Today we’ve had three meetings and a party this evening is yet to come. On the agenda were Eventbrite, Citrix Accelerator and Broadcom. To be honest, I know Eventbrite well and I was looking forward to going there, I knew Citrix but not its accelerator and I was wondering what there could be of interest there, and lastly, I had never heard of Broadcom.
The meeting at Eventbrite went really well. The visit to their wonderful offices (I get the impression it’s a competition between all the companies), a meeting with the marketing VP, etc. It was extremely interesting and I will endeavor along with Glenn, Gang and Edouard to report it back to you.
However, the big surprise came with the next two meetings.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the acceleration program implemented by Citrix. Very much oriented towards B2B and SaaS, they choose early-stage startups and support them over a period of 18 months with funding of US$250,000 (convertible note). Conscious of the fact that B2B companies do not have the same challenges and the same sales cycles, they have set up their own model. Comfortably established in a Citrix building, the startups benefit from advice from mentors, including from some very prestigious individuals, such as Steve Blank.
Beyond the presentation of the program and the startups present today, we entered into an open discussion with them about what makes Silicon Valley different to other places. Why is there so much innovation here compared to other places on the planet. Some of the ideas, no doubt a bit clichéd, that were mentioned are:
- the network and helping one another. Someone explained to us how surprised a New York entrepreneur had been about the culture of helping each other at Silicon Valley “I can’t believe how people share here”. It’s a culture of ‘giving’ and not a culture of ‘receiving’
- the number of people who have some sort of input into the startups is unique in the world. One of the participants told us that at a meeting for parents of schoolchildren, almost all of the parents worked in this industry
- at Silicon Valley there is a culture of engineering, anything is possible, there’s no technical obstacle
The abundance of these testimonies was striking. You really get the feeling that what goes on here could not occur anywhere else.
The second surprise came from Broadcom. First of all we were welcomed by the engineering VP of the Wireless division, Mark Gonikberg, and his journey had been breathtaking. Between other jobs he had worked for a few years for General Magic, a spin-off of Apple, created by the former ‘pirates’ of Macintosh and whose aim was to create what would become the PDA. You might call Mark a “Veteran of the Valley”, and in this particular startup, he was in charge of the connectivity part. Following this, he set up his own company making modems or wireless communication devices, which was ultimately bought out by Broadcom in 1999.
At the time Broadcom wasn’t as big but, with the progress in Wi-Fi at the start of the 2000′s and then wireless networks, the company really boomed. Three out of four phones in the world today have a Broadcom chip. The factory supplies 5 million chips per day. And most impressively, when you send or receive a message on an electronic device there is a 99.99% chance that at least one of the devices being used to convey the message is equipped with a Broadcom chip!
This meeting really opened our eyes to the fact that there are services that we use all day long and which we’re absolutely hooked on, yet they wouldn’t exist without this unknown giant.
To sum up, this was another day where we learned a lot and I have just one wish… for tomorrow to come as quickly as possible so we can continue learning about this magical place.