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Jerks And The Start-ups They Ruin


Perhaps the premiere of Season 4 of “Silicon Valley” twigged me to share this post. but despite the title, the HBO series only connection may be the now viral “mean jerk time algorithm.” The real “Silicon Valley jerk” has been around for decades, buried with all the other dirty laundry. Uber’s Travis Kalanick has only brought it front and center at this moment. It is something of a conundrum as some of the jerks are also the most successful. We all now know about the “bad” Steve Jobs. Oracle for years had a very bad reputation that came directly from Larry Ellison himself. Microsoft was long known as a “sweatshop” with a highly negative culture led by Steve Ballmer. Even venture capitalists themselves have caught the disease as evidenced by Reid Hoffman and the late Tom Perkins of KPCB. The best assessment I have heard is that these aggressive unrestrained corporate cultures destroy their own goals. Or better yet, the saying that “culture trumps strategy.”

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The Okanagan Never Has Been, And Never Will Be, Silicon Valley: A Lesson From New Zealand


UPDATE: This post from February 21, 2016, is being republished in the light of the announcement that Club Penguin is closing its doors in March. No amount of PR spin, arm waving, or equivocation can make the bitter truth of this post go away.  I note that Lane Merrifeld and Accelerate Okanagan have been conspicuously silent. […]

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The Okanagan Never Has Been, And Never Will Be, Silicon Valley: A Lesson From New Zealand


British Columbia and New Zealand share many economic similarities, except that New Zealand has way more sheep, are way better at rugby and are better sailors. Both economies are focused on natural resource exploitation, tourism, wine, and horticulture. Both economies have similar populations though we have more space and are not isolated in the South Pacific. The motion picture industry has been a major factor in both economies, but both are highly vulnerable to foreign exchange fluctuations. Both economies have made efforts to diversify into high tech, pouring millions into development of startups. Both economies have had modestly successful companies in high tech, which have been bought out and moved out. The crucial difference may be New Zealand’s pragmatism about how to deal with this economic reality. British Columbia could learn from New Zealand.

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Here’s How To Get A Job At Facebook….


…Or any other hot company in Silicon Valley… I have told my UBC Management students this story. It has been repeated over and over since then. The story this morning from Business Insider and SF Gate, the blog of The San Francisco Chronicle serves to underscore just how tough the competition is in Silicon Valley. […]

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Uber’s Travis Kalanick Plumbs New Depths As Silicon Valley’s Biggest “Jerk”


Even in the early golden years of Silicon Valley, there were “Silicon Valley Jerks,” and unpleasant corporate cultures.  Larry Ellison and Oracle are the first to come to mind. Oracle was known as a very hostile, unpleasant place to work and there was a revolving door of senior executives who were fired by Ellison or […]

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John Sperling, University of Phoenix Founder, Dies at 93


I had the great good fortune to know Professor John Sperling, Cambridge don, when I was an undergraduate student at San Jose State University. At that time, our campus was awash in great thinkers: visiting scholars Buckminster Fuller, Alan Watts, and a host of other eminent faculty. I knew Sperling as a friend and mentor, and worked closely with John and my friends with the SJSU student government: Dick Miner, Peter Ellis and others, some of whom went on to work with Sperling at the Institute of Professional Development and later at the University of Phoenix. My fondest recollection of John was as the catalyst for our symbolic burial of an ugly yellow Ford Maverick on the first Earth Day. John challenged us to define ourselves by what we would do to mark that day. It has become one of the defining events of the first Earth Day. But I also view John as the precursor of the current MOOC’s movement. John shook up the academic world with his revolutionary ideas about education. John created immense controversy but he also spawned significant change.

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Is it really a tech bubble, or is it something else?


Originally posted on Gigaom:
Adam Lashinsky, in a piece for Fortune last week, wrote at length about the question that has crossed the minds of everyone north of San Jose: are we in a bubble? He takes a nostalgic trip down memory lane, talking about the dot-com bubble and how we are starting to see…

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What are the historical shrines of Silicon Valley?


The answers to this question make a great tour of Silicon Valley history. I added my own answer: the historic bronze plaque commemorating Bob Noyce’s invention of the integrated circuit. It is outside the front of the old Fairchild Semiconductor building, at the corner of Ararstradero Road and Charleston Road, and is almost completely forgotten. Probably the most important invention in our generation. Like so much of Silicon Valley, it is very difficult to easily visit the most important sites or get any sense of their significance. But this list is very good. The historical significance of some of these places will be instantly obvious, others less so. They are all important, so it’s your homework assignment.

i.e. the places of great historical significance to the technology industry … HP Garage, Googleplex, Shockley Semiconductor office, etc.

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The Silicon Valley Jerk Conundrum


Most people probably have no idea who Jeanette Symons was as a person, or even her name. Yet, she became one of Silicon Valley’s most famous entrepreneurs. She tragically died in the crash of her Lear Jet with her adopted son, some years ago. She is right up there with Steve Jobs in terms of her accomplishments, her intellect, and her utterly horrible personality. I worked for Jeanette. This article from the San Francisco Chronicle is an excellent exploration of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and the “a**hole” conundrum of their eccentricities that can also make them highly successful. There has also been a recent major controversy about SV entrepreneurs arrogance and insensitivity to others. This is definitely NOT Canadian. My fear is that Canadians are not prepared for it. My students know that I have experienced this personally in my Silicon Valley career numerous times, most notably with the late Jeanette of Ascend Communications, who was a notorious asshole like Steve Jobs. Not easy to reconcile it, other than to live with it.

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Stanford B School Guest Lecturer Tony Seba, October 10th, 2:30PM EME 2181


Stanford Graduate School of Business Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Tony Seba, will be our MGMT 450 Guest Lecturer, Thursday, October 10th, at 2:30PM in EME 2181, speaking on “Entrepreneurship Opportunities in Clean Tech.” Tony Seba is also an entrepreneur, author, speaker, executive, management consultant and business architect. Tony will be appearing via live video conference from Stanford University to the MGMT 450 classroom.

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