Meanwhile, the top 20 tech companies in the United States are collectively sitting on more than $300 billion in cash -- enough to buy influence over every level of government in the country ten times over.
Like the major historic capitals, Silicon Valley drains talent from all over the world. At all levels in these companies, you’ll find brilliant and hard-working Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Brazilians, Israelis, English, Germans and a lot of Americans, as well as immigrants from all corners of the globe.
The kind of people who end up here tend to be fish out of water in their own countries, but find common cause among their international coworkers. They come here, often intending to work temporarily. But they meet people, get married, raise children and put down roots.
Whenever there’s an economic downturn, some head home to start new ventures, and everyone talks about the inevitable decline of the valley. But it never happens. It can’t happen. There is just too high a concentration of talent, energy and money here.
In the boom times -- forget it. This place is completely out of control. The energy level reaches and maintains a fever pitch of creation and deal making.
The innovation that happens here isn’t directed or controlled centrally, not by governments or private companies. It just happens. It feeds on itself, and constantly grows organically. It’s not about education or politics, but culture. The fervent, broadly applied passion to burn down the old and invent the new conquers all.
Ten years ago, the growing handset market was dominated by two companies in Canada and Finland. Now RIM and Nokia are becoming mere collateral damage in a bloody war between Apple and Google -- two companies within walking distance of each other in the center of Silicon Valley.
The mobile wars are just a microcosm of things to come.
Silicon Valley companies are transforming politics, culture, entertainment, commerce, education, environmental technology, medicine, science and so much more.
Everybody likes to talk about the rise of China. But the real power is in Silicon Valley, with companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. And if you disagree with that, name your top three favorite Chinese brands. No? OK, name the top three Chinese companies of any kind that have transformed your life. Nothing?
There’s no question that China’s rise has brought millions out of poverty, and that innovation and growth in China is incredibly impressive. But transformation is limited largely to China itself. The main drivers of global change are in California.
I don’t think there’s any question at all that a new global culture is forming, and its capital is Silicon Valley.
The urban sprawl between San Francisco and San Jose is becoming the new Rome, shaping our world and serving as the central gathering place for some of the world’s greatest minds. And what a world it is.