MOISÉS NAÍM @moisesnaim -EL OBSERVADOR GLOBAL Una visita al futuro
MOSES NAÍM Country1 NOV 2014

In Silicon Valley is perceived as large as Google or Facebook are insecure

I just spent a few days in Silicon Valley. From this valley of California frequently emanate new technologies that change the lives of millions of people around the world. I was talking with inventors, entrepreneurs and investors, as well as with the heads of the companies where they work. Many of them generate huge profits and other not, and perhaps never will. The most striking are those that are acquired by huge amounts even though their incomes are relatively low. WhatsApp, a company that offers an application to send and receive messages, was created in 1999 and has 55 employees and $ 20 million of revenue. In February it was bought by Facebook for 19,000 million (15,000 million).

A trend that has accelerated is the Internet-based companies with great success and profit; just want to do good. One of the highlights is the Khan Academy, created by Salman Khan, a young entrepreneur who is revolutionizing education worldwide. Another example is provided by Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the Internet, along with colleagues resigned monetize their creation.

Speaking of change in Silicon Valley is like talking about bread in a bakery: it is what is done there. That living, just that think, and why spend the immense talent that is there and the unimaginable amount of money ready to go for the most daring ideas. It is inherent in Silicon Valley culture: ambition, finding large numbers of users, the propensity to solucionismo, ie the assumption that every problem has a solution and that solution most likely involves the use of Internet. It is a culture of young people who come from all over the world, where what matters is what you know or what you can invent, not where you were born, your skin color, accent, how they dress or who their parents. It is the most intense I’ve seen meritocracy. It is also a culture that scorns the government, hierarchical and centralized organizations. Instead, venerated informality, agility, mobility, intelligence and especially risk appetite and, more specifically, not be afraid of failure. While in other cultures a failure leaves a negative and indelible mark on the reputation of a person in Silicon Valley failure is seen as a valuable learning helps to avoid mistakes in the future. Also worth noting that Silicon Valley could be called the Valley of men: the number of women is surprisingly low.

On this visit I detected some changes. There are more companies, more technology, more initiatives, more entering new sectors-from automobiles to energy or space exploration; there is more money available for investment and look forward to customers outside the United States. Many of the newly created companies are Micromultinationals: from the beginning are born with the ambition to operate globally. Normal in other parts of the world is that companies are created with the aim of operating in a city or region and, if successful, expand the domestic field and then to other countries. Silicon Valley does not work. Another trend that I detected is that, even if they recognize the giants are insecure. Google, Facebook and other larger companies feel pressure from consumers who rebel against some of their practices and governments willing to toughen regulations.

Finally, what are the major surprises that come to us from Silicon Valley in the coming years? Impossible to know. But I venture to point out three sectors that provide very transformative innovations. One is in the field of energy, where there will be interesting inventions related to storage and improved large batteries and cleaner technologies and lower costs. The second is the “Internet of Things”, ie the increasing interconnectedness of all kinds of devices and objects across the network. It is expected that soon Internet is connecting together more objects (from appliances reserves pharmacies) than people. A third sector is health: I took the impression that we will see exciting developments in technologies that improve the quality of life for seniors and others that dramatically increase efficiency and cheaper delivery of medical and hospital services. And more: the popularization of virtual money as the Bitcoin to space exploration robots or proliferation of all kinds.

And I finally find interesting and very revealing highlight some issues that nobody mentioned in my conversations in Silicon Valley: Ebola, Islamic State or Europe seemed to have more interest to my interlocutors.