We're here to find out what makes this place tick and whether we can spot the next Facebook. We are here because it's the place where the big ideas of our age were born.
I have been writing about the technology industry for 17 years, first as a reporter, now as a blogger, editor and consultant.
In this time, I've encountered many exciting and innovative tech companies from all over Europe and Asia. In fact, at one point during the relentless rise of mobile (somewhere between 2002-2005) it looked like the technology world's magnetic north would be tilting away from California towards perhaps Finland or Japan.
But the Valley and Bay Area have recovered and are in a state of rude health. Since 2006 we have seen the birth, adolescence and early youth of the iPhone, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, while Google has gone from "don't be evil" outsider to technology's Jamie Oliver (all pervasive).
Throw in another outsider - Amazon, that wily competitor that survived and prospered through the first tech bubble - and you have a constellation of starry delights that have the entire tech world in their thrall (even enterprise IT).
Now their dominance of the technology industry is so entrenched that many start-ups want to work in those proprietary environments rather than overthrow them. At Le Web in Paris last year, start up after start up talked about their Facebook game, or location plugin to Twitter. The great debate at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year was whether HTML5 would wrestle control of the app world from iOS and Google Play back to a web-based model. (So far the jury is out on that one).
This is a world of collaboration and interconnection. Fledgling players have their API access removed when they become a threat. Pesky competitors are sued when they dare to repeat someone else's success. But at the same time, they have to cooperate. Twitter's staggering growth has been because it was a platform and allowed other applications to interact with it.
This is a coopetive world.
So here we are in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, where software fights software. Brands align then divorce then reform in new alliances.
where big ideas are born
I've always been fascinated how small acorns of ideas grow into mighty oaks that cast great shadows over industries. Sometimes because they do one thing and do it so well that everyone else just has to copy it (Apple is a good example). Others become mighty through diversification: spread your branches so wide that you swallow the sun and keep the young samplings at your feet in the shade.
But who can remain top of the pile forever?
On the Orange Blog Bus tour of Silicon Valley, my personal hope is to meet those green shoots who will start within another company's ecosystem but eventually will break out to form their own. They may never become a $100bn gorilla but there is much scope in "internet of things", big data, cloud apps, geolocalisation, DIY hardware and so on, for a new oak to grow.
I'm here because I want to meet tomorrow today. Not asking too much is it?
following the #blogbus
If you're interested in the #blogbus tour, I will be reporting on it during the course of this week, here on Enterprising Business. You can also follow it at:
http://live.orange.com - for all the posts from the guest bloggers
- http://stewartbaines.com - for my photo diary of the tour
I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.