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I attended the Joint Venture Silicon Valley (JVSV) annual conference last week, which in essence delivers the Valley’s version of the State of the Union.

Silicon Valley being Silicon Valley, no byte was left unturned. What’s called the Silicon Valley Index packs enough information to appease the most strident data scientist. Want to know how Silicon Valley compares to the rest of the country in supporting the arts? You came to the right place.

Before going further, it’s worth noting that JVSV defines Silicon Valley as a 1,854 square-mile mass covering Santa Clara County, San Mateo County as well as parts of Alameda County and Santa Cruz County.

JVSV Silicon Valley Map

Right, San Francisco is absent from the JVSV definition, an issue for another day (though JVSV CEO Russell Hancock shared his belief that the definition of Silicon Valley should include San Francisco).

On the other hand, we highlighted our client, the City of Fremont, which serves as the advance manufacturing hub of Silicon Valley.

Assuming data mining does not bring you glee, I’ve captured six points from the Index that caught my attention:


The Secret Sauce Called Diversity

Foreign Born 02-15

Think about this for a moment. If you meet three people while standing in line to watch a movie, probability says that one of those folks will have been born in another country. I don’t think this dynamic gets enough credit for shaping the Silicon Valley scene. The fact that the smartest people from all over the world come here to invent definitely impacts the Silicon Valley culture. In fact, the diversity transcends business. It makes living here a more enriching experience.


Quit Using the “B” Word

There is no bubble.

The job creation run-up to the dot-com meltdown took place at warp speed.

Now, look at the growth of job creation in Silicon Valley going back to 2010, the last year of job loss before the economy started picking up steam.

Job Growth silicon valley

The numbers have a steady-as-she-goes quality, and though 4.1 percent job growth over the past year is impressive, it’s not crazy.

At some point, what goes up does come down — my single take away from high school physics — but the economy isn’t going to crash á la 2000.


The Ugly Truth Behind that Morning Commute (and it’s only going to get worse)

The chart below depicts the work force by county and the number of people who commute to a company sitting in a different county.

Residents Commute 02-15

It’s pretty damn revealing. I knew that people on the Peninsula commuted to San Francisco. I had no idea that roughly the same number of folks in San Francisco commute to other parts of the Bay Area.

It’s only going to get worse.

Check out the amount of non-residential development approved in 2014 that is NOT close to public transit (light purple bar):

Non-Residential Dev. Near Transit 02-15

Silicon Valley might be able to challenge LA for turning freeways into parking lots in the not-so-distant future.


Show Me the Money

Venture Capital A 02-15

This is a mind blower.

When you combine the amount of venture capital divvied out in Silicon Valley and San Francisco in 2014, it constitutes 43 percent of the total VC distribution in the U.S.

Is this why the smartest people from around the globe gravitate to the Bay Area?

Or does an inordinate percentage of venture capital wind up in Silicon Valley and San Francisco because the areas house the smartest people in the world?

If you can answer the chicken and the egg question, proceed to “Go” and collect $200.


Who Said Clean Tech was Dead?

Investment in clean tech reached an all-time high in 2014.

Cleantech Investment 02-15

Remember when Solyndra went belly up and was supposed to take the clean tech sector with it?

Didn’t happen.

The amount of VC pumped into clean tech roughly doubled from 2013 to 2014. Even acknowledging that Uber as a clean tech play somewhat skews the number, the importance of energy is back on the radar and should only grow in the coming years. Again, Silicon Valley + San Francisco dominate as the place to be for clean tech.


Kids Don’t Leave the Nest

Adult Children Living with Parent 02-15

Rationalizing that kids stay home after high school or college because Silicon Valley is so darn expensive doesn’t hold water.

Yes, the cost of living in Silicon Valley is high. But check out the 30.3 percent of young adults across the country choosing to stay home, only two clicks below Silicon Valley.

It appears that there’s something deeper going in American society. Maybe, our young adults figured out Italian adult males were onto something.


I moved to Silicon Valley in 1981.

I remember people even back then saying, “What are you doing? Do you have any idea how expensive the Bay Area is?’

Of course, it’s expensive. One doesn’t need a degree a behavioral economics to appreciate that strong demand drives up the price point.

That was true in 1981 when I paid $220 for my half of a two bedroom apartment, and it’s just as true today.

And it will continue to be true tomorrow.

Because there’s no place in the world quite like Silicon Valley.

P.S. If you’re interested in a deeper dive, you can check out the full Silicon Valley Index here. I also looked into the crystal ball with predictions for Silicon Valley a few years ago.

 


Comments

  • Julie kelemem

    Great post! Love the info graphics. I appreciate the diversity I’m the Silicon Valley but curious to learn your opinion on the topic of the year, “Severe Lack of
    Diversity in the
    SV” as shoved down our throats DAILY by local media sources, especially M. Quinn of he San .jose Mercury News.

    Reply
    • hoffman

      Julie,

      Thanks for the positive input and question.

      I moved to Silicon Valley in 1981. This “place” always seemed like the ultimate meritocracy. But the data doesn’t lie (though I suppose Mark Twain might argue otherwise). That same Silicon Valley Index based on research by the Joint Venture Silicon Valley shows a major disparity in earnings by gender. On the flip side, you have stories like this one on 50 women dominating Silicon Valley.

      Working in the communications industry in Silicon Valley where women do lead many consultancies and have senior roles, I’m inclined to think that the inequality hasn’t necessarily been visible from my perch.

      Reply
  • Julie kelemen

    Thank you for sharing your insight. It helps me understand both sides of the diversity issue.

    Reply
  • Dr. Erik Goluboff MD

    Dr. Erik Goluboff MD…

    Storytelling Techniques For Effective Business Communications » Six Things That Might Surprise You About Silicon Valley…

    Reply

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