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A Rare Mix Created Silicon Valley's Startup Culture

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From NPR: Part 1 of 3 on how Silicon Valley got started and how new of an idea it was for engineers to be entrepreneurs.

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Thank you for posting this link, Mimi!

It's as good an article about the beginnings of Silicon Valley as any I've seen, and I love this description of Nobel Prize winner Shockley's inability to manage people:

Unfortunately for Moore and the other young scientists who gathered around him, Shockley turned out to be a terrible manager. "He really had no idea what motivated people," Moore says.

Even worse, Shockley was paranoid and erratic. He put his employees through lie-detector tests, Moore says. Then, within a year of opening the lab, Shockley decided he didn't want to focus on silicon transistors.

Luckily, as the story goes, the right mix of people and money came together to form Fairchild Semiconductor, which led to all the things that came after it, including Intel and the name Silicon Valley.

Holy cow:

Rock was almost ready to give up when he finally found an investor willing to take a chance on a group of scientists. The investor was Sherman Fairchild, owner of Fairchild Camera and Instrument in New York, and an inventor himself. And Fairchild was not averse to risk.

"If he had not decided to do this," Rock says, "I think there would have been no Silicon in Silicon Valley."

Even back then:

  • fundraising was hard
  • the margin between success and failure is razor-thin

That's right, Matt. They really did set the culture here starting in the 1950s -- it's baked into our DNA!

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