Silicon Valley’s Brain Drain



Where Have All the Innovators Gone?

Growing up in Silicon Valley was a magical experience. The area was full of innovators who came to this country to build their dreams, which were built on ideas that served a real purpose.

From 1939, when Hewlett Packard developed their first audio oscillator in a garage, to 1942 when the greatest minds pooled their resources together to support the defense industry heading into World War II, the brightest minds were attracted to building technology that would change the world.

By 1971, due to the growing number of semiconductor innovations, the region began to be referred to as Silicon Valley. Fast forward to 2014, and the landscape has been watered down by novelty apps, news aggregators and get-rich-quick copycat companies. If we had to name this same region today, what would we name it?

I hope the world would recognize this region as an innovation hub for electric cars and electric health records, yet sadly we are known for social networking and sleek devices produced with slave labor.

HBO’s comedic take on Silicon Valley is the wake up call this region needs. We will laugh. We will reflect. And hopefully we will grow.

I hope our growth brings talented people to focus on innovations that protect the environment, eradicate disease and improve overall health for all of the world’s people. 

The Negative Effects

Some of the negative effects of the current landscape are innocuous, while others are life threatening. We have 20-year-olds flocking to the region to build upon outdated and frivolous ideas. They may waste their time on a company that goes nowhere, but they earn valuable experience in the process.

The most disturbing side effect is real problems are going unsolved. Whether it’s cyber security or treatments for cancer, there is a real need for talented people to focus on real innovation.

Are you tuning into the HBO comedy, “Silicon Valley”? Do you think it will have a negative or positive effect on innovation?

This post originally appeared on Atelier Advisors. Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator of Lean Finance for Startups and Finance Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs.  All AlleyWatch readers are automatically eligible for a 50% discount on either of the courses using the preceding links.

Image credit: CC by Nam LaMore

About the author: Lili Balfour

Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator and host of Finance for Entrepreneurs, author of Master the Finance Game, and host of the Finance for Entrepreneurs broadcast on Spreecast.

After spending fifteen years in investment management and investment banking, she decided to develop a firm to cater to the specific needs of early-stage companies. At Atelier Advisors, Lili advises leading brands across industries: from tech to consumer goods. In the past, she has advised over 100 brands, including:

Bag, Borrow, or Steal, Visual IQ, Alpha Theory, Derivix, Practice Fusion, Peeled Snacks, Sustainable Minds, Firescope, Chix 6, Duchess Marden, Erin Fetherston, Eckart Tolle, and Stuart Skorman (founder of Reel.com, Elephant Pharmacy, Hungry Minds, and Clerk Dogs (sold to Netflix)).

While advising companies at Atelier Advisors, she observed a common theme – -brilliant founders avoided finance. She began writing about entrepreneurial finance to solve this problem.

As a native of Silicon Valley and a first generation Mexican American, Lili understands the importance of imparting wisdom learned in Silicon Valley to the rest of the world. Her goal is to teach the entire planet about entrepreneurial finance.

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