With the depth of venture capital investment in the region, if the three million people that reside in Silicon valley were their own country, it would be within the top 50 global economies. So, it should be no surprise that executives from varied industries flock to the region to observe the culture of Silicon Valley.
To underline the value of visiting Silicon Valley, according to banking executives that have immersed themselves in Silicon Valley tours, the experience has been one of their greatest ROIs, or that they “learned more in two days than in the entire past two years.”
The point is that many top executives from industries such as finance or banking, for example, may be rooted in their old-fashioned ways, and can benefit from shaking things up a bit. Silicon Valley is the definition of the entrepreneurial spirit. Kids can often become worth millions of dollars before they become 25. Cars drive themselves.
Innovative technology now penetrates and advances nearly every sector of our economy, so every executive can benefit from tapping into the veins of what drives companies to reach such staggering worth within often only a few short years.
From San Francisco to San Jose, there are hundreds of companies headquartered in Silicon Valley, thousands if you include all of the incubators in people’s garages and living rooms. But, whether on your first or next visit to the region, your time is going to be limited. So, which are the most essential innovators to see, and find out what makes them tick?
This is our list of the top ten companies you need to visit, and NOW:
One does not need much of an excuse to visit Google, but regardless, you need to visit the tech giant. Google went from being another search engine in a sea of search engines (many of which failed where Google succeeded) to their very own verb in the English language. When someone says “google it” is synonymous now with “search for XYZ,” while nobody says “bing it” or “yahoo it.” Well, maybe they do over at Microsoft and Yahoo…
AirBNB took a risky business model and turned it into the most valued real estate rental companies ($10 billion is hardly peanuts), all without even owning any real estate! This infographic shows you a simplified timeline of how they transformed one apartment into billions of dollars, but there is more to the story, which is why you need to visit this monster of a startup.
Microsoft is to Silicon Valley what Bank Of America is to Wall Street, minus a bit of the scandal. In a world of startups blooming and decaying the following week, Microsoft (along with Apple and HP) are one of the greatest Silicon Valley successes that have lasted for the long haul, and become one of the most globally recognized brands.
The reason is simple: never stop innovating. There are very few tried and true methods that companies can rest on and still remain profitable. Even despite setbacks such as the occasional software design misstep, Microsoft is one of the legends of solving the seemingly impossible in the business world and figuring out how to always come out on top.
How did a company that spent almost $0 on advertising become one of the largest cloud data-hosting providers on the planet? Meeting the minds that work at Dropbox will allow you to gain insight into how a rather unsexy software service was cultivated into billions in value from scratch.
Much in the same way with AirBNB does not own any real estate, the world’s largest fleet of private, on-demand transportation owns no vehicles. Uber has almost made the taxi obsolete, through incorporating innovative business strategies with technology. A company that is worth approximately $50 billion in less than seven years deserves some attention.
Even though they face some significant competition, our assumption is that within a short number of years, ordering a driver from whatever company will be known as “ubering” yourself a ride to your destination.
Remember the name of the first electric car? Likely not, and you probably remember how we were promised that they were the cars of the future beginning decades ago, only to never see them hit the streets. Tesla made the electric car not only available, but desirable, and even has a waiting list for its vehicles. Up until a few years ago, companies could not even give electric cars away for free!
It is almost obligatory to visit HP’s offices when in Silicon Valley, as they have been headquartered there longer than any other company, and were the first electronics company to open in the region (you can even visit their original headquarters and see how quaint their “offices” were). You can learn a thing or two or thousand from the company whose first office is dubbed the “birthplace of Silicon Valley.”
Palantir is a must to visit when in the region, as they went from being unheard of for years, and now provide software for critical information institutions like the FBI and CIA, and are valued at almost $10 billion. Palantir develops software for massive organizations that analyze and process unfathomable amounts of data, and lets them achieve such with aplomb.
Adobe is a proof that if you stick to your principles, but are also willing to adapt to a constantly changing landscape, your business will become a leader in your industry. During their 30 years of success in Silicon Valley, Adobe has become iconic for their software, with the user-experience at the forefront of their game plan.
A company that started off as a dvd-in-the-mail rental company that now has their own streaming app being built into Smart TVs deserves a visit. Not only has Netflix transformed the way that we consider watching films and television shows, but has become a media production powerhouse in and of their own.
Don’t just come for the weather
It is never too late for a business executive to come and experience the culture that breeds innovation like no other place on the planet, and learn how to incorporate varying approaches to innovation into their own company.
While there are a countless number of high-profile, groundbreaking companies in Silicon Valley, these are the top ten that you need to visit first, and sooner rather than later. All have something to offer in terms of expanding your own business acumen.