An Opera Singer in Silicon Valley
So, why is there so much innovation in Silicon Valley? Why is there this long tradition of innovation? We mostly associate Silicon Valley with Internet start-ups from the smallest to Google, Facebook and many others. But even before the Internet area California was a hotbed of innovation and inventions. Just think of the famous Skunk Works, the famous Advanced Development Program of Lockheed Martin, or Hewlett-Packard founded in Palo Alto.
Many articles, posts and books have been written about Silicon Valley. Standford University and especially its Dean for Engineering, Frederick Terman are often cited as the creators of Silicon Valley. Terman encouraged students, faculty and alumni in the 1940s and 50s to start their own businesses.
The access to capital with a lively venture capital scene early on but also huge research budgets from the Department of Defense were contributing factors. Much of that is known and well researched.
Let me take a more personal perspective. Today I am writing from HanaHaus
, a new space in the middle of Palo Alto created by the SAP co-founder Hanno Plattner. It exemplifies so much about what makes Silicon Valley so special.
HanaHaus is located in an old theatre from the 1920s which was a cincema for a long time and then a bookstore. It has just opened its doors and quickly has become a typical place for Silicon Valley.
A great coffee shop is the centre of HanaHaus. Around it is an open courtyard as well as a nice seating area for people to hang out. The old theatre has been transformed in an open working space with a variety of seating options, meetings rooms and even quiet rooms. It looks cool, has daylight, but is also very simple.
People might come here just for a coffee or a bite to eat. They can book a space for a few hours to work for a meager US$ 3 per hour. But most importantly they can talk to each other, can get to know new people, get ideas, share ideas, and start creating. Yes, there is also a free Internet connection for everyone with more than enough bandwidth.
I could go on to lament the lacking energy to create innovation and enable entrepreneurship in Europe. But I rather would like to add a note about the power of the network which comes to place here in Silicon Valley.
What everyone realizes here is that a network is stronger than the individual. Therefore everyone participates, is open and accessible. Let us think what that could do for classical music. if we were to push the network effect in classical music it would easily become an amazing strong art form and part of life for many people.
What does it take? - Not so much. Luckily we have so many tools available to us. The first step is probably the hardest: we need to stop looking exclusively at ourselves as artists, ensembles, managers or promoters. Make it a rule that you speak about another musician, a concert you did not play but listen to, a great program at another venue once a day. The effect would be amazing. That is #classicalbuzz at its best. Let´s do it!
Bernhard is the founder of HELLO STAGE. He is probably the first opera singer pitching an Internet start-up in Silicon Valley. Before founding HELLO STAGE in Fall 2013, Bernhard was the CEO and Artistic Director of the Wiener Konzerthaus. He held several C-Level positions in European technology companies with EUR 100+ million turnover. See www.bernhardkerres.com.
Bernhard is currently working for HELLO STAGE in the Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley, a leading accelerator for start-ups. He writes about his experience in the innovation hot bed on this blog.