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Silicon Valley Myth Keeps Growing

Silicon Valley Myth Keeps Growing
by Daniel Isenberg on 04-06-2016 at 7:00 am

 I thought my ears were deceiving me when a commentator (I believe it was David Brooks) gushed with admiration on NPR a few years ago that it was great that Jeff Bezos of Amazon was injecting Silicon Valley thinking into the Washington Post. What?!?!?! Unless my Google got jammed, Amazon is in Seattle. But Silicon Valley got the tagline. “Jeff Bezos is bringing the Seattle Rainforest to the Washington Post” just doesn’t sound cool.

Silicon Valley is unique and wonderful, yada yada, so is Amazon’s rainforest, but it gets blind uncritical credit as the be-all and end-all of entrepreneurship. Having helped raise four kids, I am used to nobody ever listening to me, but even I was surprised that noone noticed when Harvard Business Review published my 2010 exhortation to Stop Emulating Silicon Valley” and I am perplexed at the persistence and self-perpetuation of Siliconology(my favorite is Billy-Can Valley.) (Hey, why not SiliFran Valley, anyhow, you heard it hear first – now that the former prune capital has grown into the City?)

Here is just today’s latest juicy example

Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures and friends (yes, mostly HQ’ed in SiliFran Valley) invested $120 million in “Silicon Valley Startup Juicero.” Is it cool? I Tesla-vate just from the picture. Think Keurig, Segway, SodaStream, Coravin, and other standalone, hard-to-make, complex consumer products. Some succeeded, some flopped (think Segway), and for some the jury is still out.

Will the $700 Juicero succeed? Who knows? All else being equal, I suppose a complex consumer product with big direct competitors (like Tesla) with $120 million of funding has a much better chance at success than one that has less funding. Do I hope it succeeds? Sure, why not?

Is it a SiliFran Valley startup? NOPE. Juicero is one of hundreds or thousands of Silicon Valley Transplants. It has its roots in New York, and in a failed juicery, Organic Avenue, started in 2002. One more time: ROOTS IN NEW YORK! Long story, but as a result, co-founder David Evans, apparently without even a (gasp!) accelerator or a hackathon, hacked away in his Brooklyn (you read it here: BROOKLYN – OMG!) apartment and came up with a prototype, and so on. Then after his innovative juicer started to work and the risk started to recede, (admittedly reading between the lines and based on seeing it happen), the SV money guys (yep, still mostly guys) said “Come to Silicon Valley.”

Am I a grumpy, snow-bound winter-weary Bostonian? Of course, but I lived, entrepreneur-ed and invested for 22 years in Israelicon Valley, way before it was popular, and I have seen surprising and impressive entrepreneurship almost everywhere I have seen people. That’s what successful entrepreneurs do – they surprise us. And they can do that anywhere in the world.

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