Category Archives: business

Silicon Valley History

You may have already heard about this southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, famous for the ITs corporations that settled there , but do you know its history ?


First of all, about the name : The term originally comes from the many innovators and manufacturers that were building chips out of silicon. But now it means all the high-tech businesses in the area. Even though it’s not truly a valley, it is a term for the high-tech sector generally.


During the 19th century it was only a fruit-growing area, we may wonder how does it became one of the most attractive place for high tech companies.

Large freeways curl through the city April, 2000 in San Jose, CA. San Jose is experiencing a boom due to the large number of high-tech companies in the region, which is known as Silicon Valley. (Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers)

381078 15: Large freeways curl through the city April, 2000 in San Jose, CA. San Jose is experiencing a boom due to the large number of high-tech companies in the region, which is known as Silicon Valley. (Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers)

The key figure in this development was Frederick Terman, a professor from Stanford University in the 30s, who encourages his students to start business locally, and not to move on the East Coast. The first two graduates to start were William Hewlett and David Packard, with the company name after them : “HP”, which is a large company nowadays.


In this capacity he continued to encourage the development of local businesses in electronics and attracted venture capitals to invest in the area.


Then, in 1968, the Intel business started, they were manufacturing memory chips, and microprocessors. Those components were made of silicon, which inspired Don Hoefler, a journalist from a local newspaper, who eventually nicknamed the region “Silicon Valley” in one of his articles.


From the 70s to the 90s, more and more software development company invaded the area, and innovation was at its maximum. As an example, Xerox Research center played a major role in the development of Object Oriented Programming, or Graphical User Interface.


Those inventions led indirectly to other companies such as Apple or Microsoft. In fact, the Macintosh GUI was a result of a Steve Jobs visit at Xerox.


That was just before the Internet bubble, which started in quickly after the opening of Internet to commercial use. Companies such as Amazon or Ebay were then created.



The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)  is a proposed trade agreement  between the EU and US being negotiated, which aims to create a free trade zone. That would be the most important free trade deal ever achieved, as it would include half of the world’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and one third of all commercial trades.

So, this TTIP thing is kind of a big deal. But we don’t hear about it much, do we? If it is as important as we say, it should make the news, unless some individuals do not want you to know about it. Indeed, the talks about TTIP have mostly been conducted in secret, behind the doors of big international hotels. The documents about the negotiations can’t be read either, only in ultra-secured lecture rooms in Brussels or some American embassies.

As press and citizens cannot access the contents of the deal, we don’t know much about the treaty, but it is intended to grow big companies’ power, and reduce government’s’ control. Its goal is to “remove regulatory barriers”. The problem is that these “barriers” are actually environmental regulations, food safety rules, regulations on the use of toxic chemicals… Yes, that means that any product from the United States may be imported in Europe, even if it does not respect the rules of the country in which it is imported..

I hope you don’t mind a little Roundup in your vegetables.

It could lead to a lot more privatization in sectors such as water, health, education and transport, providing even more power to corporations, and still at the expense of citizens.

In theory, TTIP will allow private investors to sue governments if their decisions make the profits drop. Yes, crazy.
Countries where corporations can do whatever they want and governments (so, people) do not have a say, does not bode well for individuals liberties and democracy…

Are we doomed yet ?

Although the TTIP is likely to be ratified, due to huge backing by lobbies and corporations, there is still hope : France recently threatened to stop the negotiations. Matthias Fekl, the French minister of state for foreign trade, criticized the opacity in the talks and the absence of any interesting offer for European countries. France does not really have the power to stop everything, but its opinion weighs enough to influence the decision of the European commission.

Matthias Fekl

A petition recently gathered 3.2 million of signature from European citizens, showing that TTIP is strongly disagreed with among citizens.

But it still is a topic on which people are not informed enough. We must do our best to spread the word and have our say.