Finding meaning in Silicon Valley

Hermione Way, British tech reporter in San Fransisco, wrote an article on The Next Web titled The Problem With Silicon Valley Is Itself. She’s done hundreds of interviews with start-ups and found just a small amount of startups that actually solve real problems. She writes:

Groupon clone after Groupon clone, yawn… yet another social media dashboard, a cloud-based enterprise solution or, worse still, another photo sharing app; I’ve heard pitch after pitch of the same technology and keep wondering why all these highly intelligent, well educated youngsters, many of whom have been educated in the best universities in the world (Stanford, Yale and Harvard) are not putting their brains to good use by solving real-world problems. Instead they’re building technology to solve trivial issues – like apps that show where to spot your nearest tofu cupcake and share it with your friends.

I follow tech startups quite vigorously and have the same feeling. Silicon Valley is a great place (and I really mean this), but it is also a place with a monoculture. An echo chamber fueled by easily available capital. What Silicon Valley (and the world) needs is better competition. Multiple hubs around the world where startups from with different skills come together. Wouldn’t it be great to have startup hubs that combine innovation in the fields of web, biotech, greentech, medical, production, social and education?

I’m heavily influenced here by my time at MIT where I saw different disciplines come together on the highest level. All of this on a few km2 on the banks of the Charles River. A wonderful mix of engineering, biomedical research, pure science, media, architecture and business. Both MIT and the Valley are great examples that physical clustering works. They also take years to build up, but I believe we need more and better Silicon Valleys. We need healthy competition for innovation to get a a higher level.