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Discovering Silicon Valley

Volume 2, 2013

By Wang Yuhao (CEIBS Entrepreneurial Leadership Camp 1)

Two years ago we were talking about who would dominate in the social networking world – Facebook or Twitter? Now people are guessing who will propel humans to a more sci-fi future, Google or SpaceX? The legend of Silicon Valley is well known and it has a common allure for countries, companies and entrepreneurs alike. Does the Valley have a business pattern? What is the secret of its success?

Forty-plus members of CEIBS’ Entrepreneurial Leadership Camp went to the Valley in early spring 2013 to find answers to these questions. The Silicon Valley Bank, which sponsored the trip, gave staunch support to the group.

During the six days of tight schedules, we got a feel of the historical legacies of Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley; the charm of the Fisherman’s Wharf, and the beauty of Lombard Street. We saw how the Silicon Valley Bank has prospered as a result of its precise positioning. We visited the Designers’ Home of IEDO, Google’s Great Campus, Facebook Commune, and the TESLA factory.  We also heard excellent lectures at Silicon Valley Bank’s class, and had discussions with: the Valley’s most veteran investor, G. Leonard Baker Jr.; venture capitalist firm U.S. VC’s William H. Draper III; and former Professor of Management at MIT Sloan, Bruce Pickering.

So what did we learn? I believe the key to the Valley’s success is its “mechanism”. The legend of the Valley stems from its ever-innovating mechanism which enables most people to realize their life goals through fair means. This is the true source of its continued prosperity. As the Mayor of Palo Alto City, Sidney Espinosa, said: “What keeps the area’s innovation healthy and everlasting is not only what the government does, but also what it does not do.”

The CEIBS Entrepreneurial Leadership Camp study tour to the Silicon Valley left us with numerous takeaways and many lessons learned. Whether for entrepreneurs or for investors, this was a pilgrimage truly worth making!