What Happened To Silicon Values?

The Facebook IPO brought with it a flood of questions about how Silicon Valley has changed over the decades. I must be getting old because many people assume that I watched Silicon Valley evolve, and ask me to comment on the changes I’ve seen.

They assume correctly. I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area as a young engineer in 1959, before there even was a Silicon Valley. Four years earlier, the physicist William Shockley had brought silicon businesses to the Santa Clara Valley when he founded Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, and the transformation began. Out came the apricot orchards and in went Silicon Valley.

At the risk of sounding like someone who remembers only the bright spots of a golden age, I think it’s worth exploring some of the values of the leaders who first shaped Silicon Valley, because they provide a sharp contrast to those of recent Internet entrepreneurs. The values of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page of Google, and Mark Pincus of Zynga are currently influencing not only the business decisions their companies make but also the values of many other new Internet businesses.

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