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Why foreign leaders love Silicon Valley - Fortune Tech


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Last week, French President François Hollande became the latest such figure to make a pilgrimage to the world's technology capital. In the last few years, leaders from Israel, Ireland, New Zealand, Turkey, Russia, Netherlands, Lithuania, and Malaysia have also visited. Their interest reflects the growing muscle of Silicon Valley companies and venture capitalists, with which heads of state are trying to curry favor in hopes of attracting business, investment, and any political cachet that comes from championing innovation.

"They're looking for jobs," said William Miller, a former provost at Stanford University who accompanied a number of foreign delegations in Silicon Valley over the years. "They also have a feeling that a larger company -- whether Intel or Google -- could locate there and become a magnet for others."

During his brief visit, Hollande met with dozens of top Silicon Valley executives. A private lunch included Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman; Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook; and Twitter (TWTR) co-founder Jack Dorsey. In addition, Hollande opened a new technology incubator in San Francisco for French startups, which aren't exactly taking the world by storm from home.

Incubators devoted to just one country, which are often sponsored by foreign governments, have fast become a Silicon Valley fixture. Israel, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, and Australia are among those with beachheads that support young companies and help with access to U.S. investors and partners.

Norway too!

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