Prices are high in Palo Alto California

United States

Karsten Lemm

To person

Karsten Lemm is a freelance author and has been reporting from San Francisco on technology, business and other topics since 1998, mainly for Stern and After studying English and politics, he attended the Hamburg School of Journalism and was a business editor for the weekly newspaper "Die Woche". He owes his box seat on the edge of Silicon Valley to the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship program, with the help of which he became a guest reporter at and the "Industry Standard" for three months in 1998.

Research and technology using the example of Silicon Valley

A fruitful combination of capital, brains and willingness to take risks are the recipe for one of the most successful technology regions in the USA, Silicon Valley. Named after the raw material that launched the computer industry there, the region has long since set out for new technology banks.

Birthplace of Silicon Valley in California, the proverbial garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded their company. (& copy AP)

The way into the future is eight lanes and leads past glass towers, office parks and big dreams, right into the valley where the world of tomorrow will live. Anyone who drives along Highway 101, which rolls almost 80 kilometers through what was once a picturesque landscape between San Francisco and San Jose, can take pretty much every exit, stop at every corner, ring every door - the probability is high that Behind it, an idea is being tinkered with, a technical invention that is supposed to make our everyday life more beautiful, easier and more convenient, while those who thought it up become millionaires. Ideally. Just like what happened next door at Google, Yahoo !, Apple, Cisco, Oracle and many others.

The valley of the joy of the heart

On paper, Silicon Valley is initially a manageable stretch of land on the Pacific, about twice the size of Saarland, where a good 2.5 million people live. Once known as the "Valley of the Joy of the Heart" because nature lovers got their money's worth between wide grasslands and forests, orchards and rolling hills, the area now lives mainly from progress: many of the best-known brands in the IT world jostle in a confined space - including Chip developers such as Intel and AMD as well as computer manufacturers (HP, Sun), software giants and Internet starters.

13 of the 20 largest companies in the region make their living with bits and bytes; In 2007 they put together more than 300 billion dollars. So much success attracts imitators: around the established stars of the technology world - some of them not older than 15 or 20 years - there are a number of young companies that have their breakthrough yet to come. The founders do not have to worry about capital, because attracting newcomers to companies has developed into an industry of its own in Silicon Valley. Risk capitalists - so-called VCs (short for "Venture Capitalists") - pump a fortune into promising ideas year after year. In 2007, company founders in the Valley of Technology received almost $ 11 billion in start-up capital; their colleagues across the EU had to get by on a comparatively meager 4.6 billion euros.

The Silicon Valley idea factory has long since ceased to be limited to semiconductor technology, to which the region owes its name. Over decades, an ecosystem has emerged that combines brains, capital and the willingness to take risks in a unique way. The elite universities of Stanford and Berkeley produce inventions in series, science is closely interlinked with business, and there is almost never a lack of money for founders with clever ideas. Google, Yahoo !, Sun and Cisco are just a few of the success stories that started this way.

From garage to millionaire

Above all, Stanford (a private university, unlike Berkeley) has repeatedly shown itself to be a hotbed of lucrative company start-ups - and that is no coincidence, but the result of a targeted strategy: It was Stanford professor Frederick Terman who became dean for Engineering did everything to closely interlink science and business. At the end of the 1930s, he encouraged his graduates William Hewlett and David Packard to start their own company - in which he also invested himself. Terman referred the first customers and later, when business began to grow, he occasionally stopped by Packard's garage: if the car was in front of the door, he knew the order books were full; because his protégés needed the space in the garage to manufacture their products, such as an audio oscillator that Walt Disney used for his animated film "Fantasia".

With the success of Hewlett-Packard - now a company with more than $ 100 billion in annual sales - the garage became a symbol of Silicon Valley's start-up culture, and the original at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, just around the corner the corner of Stanford University, is now a listed building. Meanwhile, Terman is known to many as the "father of Silicon Valley" because he consistently promoted the networking of research and capital: in 1951 he founded the "Stanford Research Park", where young companies could set up in close proximity to the university. He then encouraged companies to let employees take part in a further education program at the university - an unprecedented interlocking of business and science in the USA, as Berkeley scientist AnnaLee Saxenian emphasizes.