Silicon Valley - San Francisco Bay Area(USA)

Route 128  Massachusetts (USA)Silicon Valley is known as one of the most important areas of economic activity in the United States. The Valley is located to the south of San Francisco and it encompasses the counties of Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. Some important urban centers in Silicon Valley include Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Morgan Hill, Cupertino, and Menlo Park.

Silicon Valley has always been associated with innovation and business entrepreneurship, as the region attracts researchers, scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

A Look at the History of Silicon Valley

The history of Silicon Valley can be traced back to the early 20th century, when the area became home to several companies that provided research and technology services to the US Navy. During fifty years, the valley south of San Francisco's Bay was dominated by aerospace and communications firms.

Silicon Valley began to position itself as a leading center for innovation during the 1950s, when academics at Stanford University encouraged and supported the creation of new companies in sectors like engineering, electronics, and computing. As Stanford University students began to launch their own businesses, the area became a cluster for hi-tech corporations. Some of the first hi-tech companies to be established in the area were Eastman Kodak, Varian Associates, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, and Lockheed Corporation. At that time, the area was known as Stanford Industrial Park.

During the following three decades, Silicon Valley attracted funding from the Defense Department and from private companies like Xerox, Fairchild Semiconductors, Bell Telephone Laboratories, and Shockley Semiconductors. Increased funding prompted the development of a strong research-based industry, and as a result, Silicon Valley became the place of birth of important technological advances, such as the microprocessor, Arpanet (a technology that would later become the Internet), and the transistor.

The area was baptised as Silicon Valley in 1972 by journalist Dan Hoefler. The name makes reference to the large number of companies that manufactured semiconductors in the area, as these devices are made of silicon.

In the 1980s, Silicon Valley experienced a rapid increase in the number of companies who chose to base themselves in the area. This was followed by a diversification in the type of industries that operated in Silicon Valley, particularly as legal firms began to offer their services to both startups and established hi-tech companies in the valley.

During the 1990s, Silicon Valley was at the heart of the bubble. During this period, and up to April 2000, corporate stock shares, employment levels, and real estate prices in the valley rose to unprecedented levels. Following a period of decline, the economic growth levels at Silicon Valley are again on the rise, as during 2012 more than 42,000 jobs were created and average incomes increased by 2.2 per cent.

Companies based at Silicon Valley

Given its significance at national and international levels, it is not surprising that many of the world's largest tech corporations are headquartered in Silicon Valley. However, the area is not just a hub for businesses in the technology industry. Other sectors that are well represented at Silicon Valley include manufacturing, business infrastructure, life sciences, information products and services, innovation and specialized services, and community infrastructure.

The top 20 largest companies in the area are:

  • Google
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Intel
  • Ebay
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Cisco Systems
  • Adobe
  • Oracle
  • Yahoo
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft
  • Intuit
  • Sun Power
  • Netflix
  • Zynga
  • Tesla Motors
  • Electronic Arts
  • Compaq

Other companies worth mentioning include Bank of America, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Netscape Communications, Symantec, Adap TV, Palo Alto Networks, Audience Inc., A10 Networks, Propel Fuels, Arteris, Sugar Sync, Marketo, Lucent Technologies, Kleiner Perkins, Flextronics, Gilead Sciences, Sony, Jive Software, Agilent Technologies, SanDisk, Nvidia, Varian Medical Systems, NetGear, Dolby Laboratories, Omnicell, Genomic Health, Yelp, Solarcity, Sun Power, Evernote, oDesk, Survey Monkey, and Advanced Micro Devices.

Facts and figures about Silicon Valley

As of 2012, there are more than 300,000 people employed in the area, which makes Silicon Valley the third largest hi-tech and manufacturing center in the US.

Twelve of the United States top 500 companies are based in Silicon Valley.

Since the 1950s, Stanford University graduates have created more than 40,000 companies and 30,000 not-for-profit organisations whose value is equivalent to the tenth largest economy in the world.

Manufacturing is the fastest-growing sector in the area. In the two years between 2010 and 2012, the number of manufacturing jobs created in this area increased by 4.8 per cent.

Travel Information

The nearest airports are in San Jose and San Francisco. Trains and light rail services link the airports with the main cities in the valley. Alternatively, the 101 road provides access to the valley's most important centers.

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