Silicon Valley is a magical place. Over the last 50 years, it has birthed and scaled most of the major technology companies in our era. It has served as a talent magnet for the best and brightest in technology, and in the same way Hollywood was central for film.
Hi Erik, thanks for this post. You're right, Silicon Valley is now in the cloud, but as a transfer from France living in SF for 11 years, the thing I observe every time I go back to Europe is the level of IRL toxicity. When I explain what I do, I feel that people out of Silicon Valley don't fully understand and I always need to adopt a more pedagogical approach.
Even though I live and work in SF, most of my connections and inspiration are online. In the last year and a half, I don't think I've been to a single networking event in SF... but as soon as I leave Silicon Valley, my mindset is challenged and somehow perverted by the people around me. In SF, my mindset never gets interrupted, instead it is fueled by the people around me, which is not always the case elsewhere.
You're right, I don't need Silicon Valley to think, recruit, develop or make new connections, but I do need it to stay focused and motivated.
This still smells of knowledge work exceptionalism: the idea that blue collar manufacturing jobs could be commoditized and shipped out of the country to the lowest bidder, but somehow knowledge workers have magic amulets and are impervious to these social and economic forces. The recent ascendance of fully remote work is liberation ... not the opening demise and race-to-the-bottom coming from a hungry, intelligent, and cheaper remote Global South workforce.
When you step back and recognize how the Silicon Valley of the 20th + 21st centuries is not entirely unlike the Chicago railroads and stockyards of the 19th century and the Nantucket global whaling industry of the 18th century, you stop seeing it as precious and special.