by Terry Gardiner
Living and working in Silicon Valley is a breathtaking experience! Anyone who has an interest in the high tech computer world or even the future of the techno universe must keep a close eye on the valley. It is a high stakes, high pressure, environment where people work smart, meet impossible deadlines and play very hard. Fortunes are won or lost here with the click of the NASDAQ stock ticker and even the lowest employee on the corporate totem pole, the one who sweeps the floor, can get a $50,000 Christmas bonus.
Rich man-Poor man
A typical clean room technician or printed circuit board assembler makes enough money to buy a mansion in middle America but can only afford to rent an apartment here in Silicon Valley. In fact, the rental prices are so high that I see in the paper today a 850 square foot cottage in Palo Alto renting for $2000 per month or a one bedroom apartment, in an undesirable area renting for $1250 per month. The reality is that many Silicon Valley workers drive to work each day from homes located 100 miles away. These commuter families even bring their young children up in the commuter lane; they see them for the 2 hour morning commute, drop them off at childcare, go to work, then pick the kids up for the 2 hour ride home. What a life!
This is the Valley where, near the corner of highway 280 and Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, the billion dollar investment banking firms fight for real estate space that can go for several thousand per square foot, just so they can have a chance at bankrolling the latest high tech start-up. More millionaires have been created here with the launch of an internet start-up website company than all of the old industrial revolution type factories together in American history.
Streets paved with silicon
On this planet we have had many noteworthy highways throughout our history such as The Romantic Road, The Silk Highway, The Spice Trail and the Miracle Mile. Well, the one I drive to work on is called: The Billion Dollar 101. On a typical day I will start down highway 101 and drive through high tech corporate row: there will be Oracle, then Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, Yahoo, HP, 3 Com, Bay Networks, Intel, Netscape and Cisco Systems. It’s a dream world for those who understand concepts like ultra high vacuum, artificial intelligence, 128 bit games, and mega bandwidth.
An average mechanical engineer who can operate PRO Engineer cad software and can design with CE mark and out-sourceing everything in mind has it made to the tune of 80K a year with stock options. If you are a software engineer and can keep the latest ultra high vacuum wafer deposition robot running you can write your own ticket. The campus based software company with the most prestigious culture who can create the next killer application will need a director of finance just to educate all the mutual fund manages who will be fighting for your stock portfolio.
World power house
More techno revolutionary, innovation rich ideas and products are developed in this 25 by 12 mile wandering rectangle than anywhere else in the world. Silicon Valley draws world political and business leaders into its web on a daily basis where international alliances and inventions such as the Internet are launched. If you are a political leader or a business tycoon and want to be in on the latest techno moving and shaking you must make an appearance in Silicon Valley.
Concepts like creating markets, out-sourcing, reuse, reverse engineering and Moore’s Law (which relates to the cycles that doubles transistor capabilities in the same footprint every 18 months) are standard procedures here. The annual operation and R&D budgets of some local companies equal the GNP of many countries.
No one locally will even venture a guess at the next dramatic: software release, hardware innovation, or chip capabilities will be, but you can be sure that the media snoops, industrial espionage types and mutual fund managers are all scrambling to figure it out. When you can pick the right techno start up bandwagon to jump on, millions of dollars can be in your swiss bank account tomorrow. So, if you can handle high pressure, impossible deadlines, 70 hour weeks and more money than you have ever dreamed of, then come join me in Life & Love in Silicon Valley!