OZY on the Valley
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because whether Silicon Valley sticks around or secedes (we kid, we kid), you gotta know what’s going down in the land of code and freewheelin’ cash.
A bevy of coding courses — both virtual and in-person — brag of being able to place the vast majority of their graduates in junior-level software engineer positions straight out of 8- or 12-week courses. In the San Francisco Bay Area these days, the salary for that sort of “junior-level” gig can reach into the low six figures. While job growth remains anemic, the tech industry is exploding, minting new millionaires, it seems, every week. That has plenty of people in the business world warning of another bubble, like the Web 1.0 version that popped unceremoniously just over a decade ago. And it’s certainly a risk again today. But in the meantime, it’s boom time, especially if you happen to be a software engineer.
An OZY interview, in two parts. Bill Campbell has coached some of the top executives of our time, including Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Jeff Bezos. What he shared with OZY will up your game whether you’re the CEO or just starting out. Ironically, considering his football background, Campbell became an executive coach almost by chance. His first client was Amazon’s Bezos. As Campbell tells it, Bezos was preparing to return from paternity leave, and there were discussions about the right role for him: He was certainly creative, but did he have the operational chops to run the growing company? A few members of Amazon’s board, who were also his friends and colleagues, invited Campbell to join them for a visit to Seattle.
You might have heard the buzz, but OZY’s Carlos Watson sat down one-on-one with the two-time presidential candidate and former civil rights activist Jesse Jackson to talk big about race in the Valley. If you haven’t caught his comments yet, they’re one loud callout to the tech industry for not adequately representing the full range of American talent. And the numbers that Jackson highlights are surprising: at Apple, no black senior execs, and none on the board. Google: only one black senior exec (David Drummond, who is an investor in OZY); the board is all white. Oracle: no blacks on the board, no black senior execs. Take eBay, Facebook, Twitter: no blacks on any of those three boards.
The possible new hub of technology’s heartland? Mountain View, the strong-shouldered suburb about an hour south of SF. Full disclosure, from OZY’s Carlos Watson: This is where OZY set up shop, but my faith in this city began long before I headquartered my company here. Mountain View, home to 75,000 people, is also home to some of the world’s most important billion-dollar corporations — and it’s looking more and more like the breeding ground for a growing number of mega-valued private companies. Just the latest proof of that? Facebook’s $19 billion purchase of our neighbors, WhatsApp. In other words: There’s gold in them there hills or, more accurately, in the Valley — about half a trillion dollars’ worth. And nearly $50 billion is waiting to be mined from a select group of Mountain View-based startups that have yet to go public. In the race to the top, Mountain View is closing in on Palo Alto and sweeping past its other Bay Area neighbors. There’s no telling how long this boom will last, but it’s big and could get a whole lot bigger very fast.