Silicon Valley lies in the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California. It serves as a hub and home to today’s biggest tech companies.
Why the name, though? The word “silicon” in the locale’s name came from the fact that several innovators and manufacturers of silicon-based metal-oxide-silicon (MOS) transistors and integrated circuit (IC) chips—computers’ forebears—started there.
At present, many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations, more than 30 Fortune 1000 business headquarters, and thousands of startups consider Silicon Valley their home. As such, the locale accounts for a third of the total venture capital (VC) investment in the U.S., employing thousands of IT workers. That helped it gain its reputation of being startup heaven.
How Has Silicon Valley Evolved?
Don Hoefler could be credited for Silicon Valley’s name. He wrote an article titled “Silicon Valley USA” that appeared in the 11 January 1971 issue of then weekly trade newspaper Electronic News.
The moniker did not immediately gain popularity, though. Silicon Valley only gained widespread use in the early 1980s, when IBM introduced the personal computer (PC) and other hardware and software to consumers.
After serving as a base for military technology developments in the pre-1970s, Silicon Valley was a primary contributor to creating what we know today as the Internet. Post-1970s, tech companies began flooding the area to put up their offices and manufacturing sites. After Internet use took off in 1995, startups like Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist’s predecessor also flocked to the area.
Take a look at this animated timeline that shows Silicon Valley’s evolution to become an almost US$3-trillion neighborhood.
Why Is Silicon Valley Perfect for Startups?
Silicon Valley is ideal for startups in a technology-driven world because it has the necessary infrastructure, talented resources, and an ever-growing market for manufacturers. Startups can easily host systems in the area because it has everything they need to stay connected. They can also easily find skilled workers to form the base of their employee pool. Software engineers, programmers, and operators abound in it. And because Silicon Valley has become known worldwide for its tenants and their products, areas around it have developed into ideal marketplaces to peddle their wares.
Since its beginnings, Silicon Valley residents have been known for their camaraderie when it comes to innovation, collaboration, and risk-taking. Its “fathers,” Frederick Terman, an American professor and electrical engineer, and William Shockley, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and innovator, for instance, worked with several peers to make the locale what it is today.
Terman convinced Stanford University faculty and graduates to put up their own companies, which led to the creation of the Stanford Industrial Park (now Stanford Research Park), where the first Silicon Valley startups like Hewlett-Packard (HP), Eastman Kodak, and General Electric (GE) were formed. Shockley, who co-invented the first transistor radio, meanwhile, put up the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, which started the ball rolling for other startups to follow.
Today, many Silicon Valley startups continue to be founded by former employees and partners of the tech giants in the area. The spirit of innovation and collaboration lives on, allowing startups easy access to free-flowing information to continue dreaming up and creating the high-tech devices that we use every day.
These are just some of the reasons that make Silicon Valley startup heaven, of course. There are tons of others.
Top 7 Silicon Valley Startups
Each year, at least one Silicon Valley startup makes it to the big leagues. In 2020 and early 2021, several websites named the top startups to watch for. We listed down seven below.
Located in Palo Alto, Wing is an on-demand drone delivery service and platform provider. Its app lets users in Australia, Finland, and the U.S. order coffee, medicines, groceries, and more for delivery by drones within minutes. Its drones have a maximum speed of 70 miles per hour.
Again located in Palo Alto, Productiv gives companies analytics and insights into the apps they use daily. That way, IT leaders can use metrics to reduce costs an maximize business performance.
Also in Palo Alto, Step allows even teens to have mobile banking access. It lets them send and receive money and make secure in-person purchases with their Step cards. The Step mobile app, meanwhile, provides users an easy way to track and manage their expenses.
These three startups are currently in the running to make it big like their predecessors featured in the video hosted at “The 45 Best Companies to Work for in the Bay Area.”
Nuvia’s core product is a silicon design company that develops high-performance and energy-efficient computer processors. It is located in Santa Clara and was founded by former Apple designers. It has been recently acquired by Qualcomm for a whopping US$1.4 billion, a testament to the top Silicon Valley startups’ success.
Located in Redwood City, Netdata offers an open-source tool for monitoring essential performance metrics of systems, applications, and other digital infrastructure components. Among the things that it can monitor are disk activity, central processing unit (CPU) usage, website visits, and bandwidth usage. These are then presented in easy-to-read charts, allowing users to diagnose slowdowns and outages.
Here’s a short video tutorial on how to go from zero to full-time monitoring with Netdata:
Fiddler Labs’s primary goal is to help organizations make sense of their artificial intelligence (AI). Its mission is “to enable businesses of all sizes to unlock the AI black box and deliver trustworthy AI experiences for customers.” Explainable AI powers users’ platforms and models by providing data related to compliance, performance, and predictions.
Fiddler Labs was founded in 2018 by a former Facebook employee. It has a total funding of US$13.2 million based on data from Crunchbase. You can get an overview of what the company does from the video below.
Not all top Silicon Valley startups are tech companies. Formulate, for instance, is essentially a hair product company. But what sets it apart is that it gives customers the ability to customize their hair products.
Customers would need to answer a questionnaire that allows Formulate to match them with a chemist who will then create a personalized healthcare product. Customers can, therefore, choose what goes into their shampoos and conditioners guided by an expert. A detailed review of Formulate products is shown in the vlog below.
These seven startups are currently in the running to make it big like their predecessors featured in the video hosted at “The 45 Best Companies to Work for in the Bay Area.”
Given Silicon Valley’s rich history and enticing prospects, are we bound to see more and more startups knocking on its doors? We’ll know the answer to that by tracking its future expansion based on the new company additions each year.