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The Almighty Buck

Silicon Valley Rebirth? 177

broohaha writes "Using the analogy of fire clearing dead wood and making room for new life in a forest, there's a Newseek article out on the goings on in Silicon Valley these "post-bubble" days. Subjects briefly covered are Intel, Google, and Wozniak's new venture, Wheels of Zeus." It'd be difficult to be literally rebirthed from the thousands of tons of concrete that now seemingly cover the Valley, but hey, as a metaphor, it works.
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Silicon Valley Rebirth?

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  • Too optomistic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dtr20 ( 442135 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @09:37AM (#3206713)
    Yes Silicon Valley is in a low.
    No that doesn't mean it will rise again.

    SV has relied on waves on new technology being ultra-successful. Ten years ago they were in crisis like today, but lucky for them, the Internet happened. (And a similar 5-10 yr cycle with chips, PCs etc). Will there be another technology rebirth to build companies on anytime soon? That's the real indicator of a rebirth.
    • Re:Too optomistic (Score:4, Insightful)

      by klaviman ( 543484 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @09:48AM (#3206748) Homepage

      The whole reason SV failed is not because there was suddenly no new technology. It's because there were tons of crappy companies that got tons of money and then couldn't make a profit after a few months.

      With Wozniak and the like taking time to build companies from the ground up, slowly and with patience & planning, then as these companies will usher in the rebirth of SV as they mature.

      A new wave of technology will just bring in over-inflated enthusiasm, which is not what is needed right now.

  • by nabucco ( 24057 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @09:39AM (#3206721)
    With hundreds of thousands of H1-Bs in Silicon Valley, and 200,000 more on their way each year, the ITAA has won it's victory against engineers (aside from their doing away with FLSA overtime requirements for computer professionals, or overturning repetitive stress injury laws). It's never going to be the same for engineers unless they start educating themselves and supporting professional organizations of the like that doctor's (AMA) and lawyer's (ABA) have.

    For instance, there's a bill in Congress, HR 3222 [geocities.com], which links the number of new H1-B visas granted to the unemployment rate. What professional organizations are pushing to get this bill a hearing? It's pathetic that IT worker's are less organized than doctor's, lawyers or even steel workers (who just got a nice present from Bush in terms of tarriffs). Until engineers start educating themselves, and then their fellow engineers, and joining or forming organizations like Washtech, CESO, AEA and the Programmer's Guild, this post-boom slump will last a long, long time. Same old 60 hour weeks and 24/7 oncall, but for less and less pay.

    • I for one would hate to see a union implemented for programmers... programming is such a broad range, i would think it'd be very difficult to achieve any type of cohesion & structure between techies.

      • I didn't mention the word union anywhere, I said a professional organization like doctors and lawyers have in the AMA and ABA. How come every time I tell an engineer we need to educate ourselves and organize into a professional association, they start telling me how much they hate unions? Engineers by-and-large don't want a union. Professional associations like the ABA and AMA don't bargain collectively like unions do, they just look out for the profession's interests. If associations are such a bad idea, why are all the IT employers associated within the very well-funded ITAA, which regularly pushed anti-engineer legislation through Washington? The employers know something engineers don't. Engineers need to organize less for "aggressive" reasons, and more for defensive reasons - to defend themselves against all the crap the ITAA gets away with. Unlike John Miano of the Programmer's Guild, I didn't have my epiphany of the murder the ITAA gets away with against engineers until the current slump, he had the foresight to start working against it during the "bubble".
        • Engineers don't organize for one very important reason: career path.

          The career path for many engineers eventually leads to management roles within their respective employers. Engineers typically do bench work for a few years after college. Then they move up to project management. And eventually, if the stars are aligned and the engineer can swallow his or her pride, the move is made to managing the business and making nontechical decisions.

          On the other hand, the value to engineers of professional organizations historically is directly proportional to how much at odds the engineers and managements views are. Since many engineers may end up being management, it really is not in their interest to fight management today and be overlooked for promotions tomorrow.

          In fact, many engineers have their dues paid to professional organizations by their employers. Every time engineering organizations, such as the IEEE, have tried to hold some position against management, membership has fallen substantially.

          As long as engineers aspire to being something more than glorified technicians, professional engineering organizations organized against management will be an unreachable dream of the downtrodden engineer.

          BTW, Michigan Tech University offers an excellent course in the history of the engineering profession where this issue is discussed at great length.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do you ever wonder why companies bring in people like myself (from India in my case)? It is because they can't afford what American tech employees expect for income and benefits, because Amercian workers complain if they have to work more than 40 hours, and because American workers are typically not as dedicated or as well educated as their off-shore counterparts (especially in ANY aspect of engineering).

      I come to American to work, earn money, and send my savings home to support my family. This is a great country, but when people that call themselves US citizens feel infringed, they immediately attack foriegners. Maybe this is why so many countries around the world utterly HATE america?
      • The don't just call themselves US citizens, they are US citizens. See, what you fail to understand is that part of why the US is a great country is just what you are railing against. The American dream of owning a house and also being able to spend time with their family. If foreign workers come in and work more hours for less pay, it begins to impact the quality of life for all workers. The middle class shrinks and we find ourselves in a wealth imbalance like that of a third world country where a smaller and smaller percentage of people control a greater and greater percentage of wealth. Americans are not against foreigners, we realize that we all travelled here some time in the past.

        I suppose that I can only blame your lack of education for not understanding these very basic principles of American motivation.
      • You seem trollish, but I'll take the bait.

        "Do you ever wonder why companies bring in people like myself (from India in my case)? It is because they can't afford what American tech employees expect for income and benefits..."

        Wrong. They can afford it, they simply would rather pay less. From a business standpoint, it makes sense, but it's still a shitty thing to do while the country is in a recession. Allow me to introduce you to a bit of Western philosophy: Charity starts in the home.

        "...because Amercian workers complain if they have to work more than 40 hours, and because American workers are typically not as dedicated or as well educated as their off-shore counterparts (especially in ANY aspect of engineering).

        This is a case-by-case scenario. For years I've worked the quirky hours of a network engineer and not once have I ever complained. But yes, I've met the type of people you're referring to. I'll even further agree that foreign IT workers, as a whole, do work harder than their American counterparts.

        "I come to American to work, earn money, and send my savings home to support my family."

        That's very nice. But because you're here, you are preventing an American from doing the same thing.

        "This is a great country, but when people that call themselves US citizens feel infringed, they immediately attack foriegners."

        This case is cut and dry. H1B workers take American jobs. Period. If all the H1B workers left, there would be more jobs for Americans. And since it is our country, I'm sure you'll understand that we think Americans should have first access to those jobs.

        "Maybe this is why so many countries around the world utterly HATE america?"

        Yeah. That's probably it. Because we blame foreigners for everything...

        I'll tell you like I told a flock of Europeans I met while traveling: Americans do not care about foreigners. When I say we don't care, I don't mean we hate them. I mean we really don't care. They never enter our minds. I spend more time choosing what movie I'm going to see than I do about the petty causes of some country I've never been to.

        And that's the way it should be.

        Maybe if these countries spent more time thinking about themselves and unfucking their own lives/governments/economy/etc., they wouldn't even need to come here to work.

        Make sense? Of course not. It's much easier to blame America than it is to fix a nation.

        In summary, I hope you lose your job to a needy American. It's our country. Deal with it. Once we get stable again, you're welcome to come back.

        Knunov
        • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @11:22AM (#3207183)
          This case is cut and dry. H1B workers take American jobs. Period. If all the H1B workers left, there would be more jobs for Americans. And since it is our country, I'm sure you'll understand that we think Americans should have first access to those jobs.

          Actually, I'm not sure this is accurate. You are assuming that the American education system provides enough workers of sufficient quality to fill the entire demand for highly skilled workers. That simply isn't true (in Europe, either).

          Long term, if you care about American jobs, you are far better importing skilled workers from around the world, making them Americans who spend money in the American economy, pay tax to the American govt. etc, than leaving them in foreign countries where the cost of living is so much lower that they can undercut US companies wholesale, and suck value out of the US economy.

          I'll tell you like I told a flock of Europeans I met while traveling: Americans do not care about foreigners. When I say we don't care, I don't mean we hate them. I mean we really don't care. They never enter our minds. I spend more time choosing what movie I'm going to see than I do about the petty causes of some country I've never been to.

          Well, good for you. Software is a global business these days. You can't hide you head in the sand and hope that "foreigners" will go away - because if you do, Silicon Valley will end up like Detroit.
        • The american dream used to be "Work hard and you'll succeed". Now it's "The big gravy boat". And the last thing you want on a gravy boat is more people.

          In summary, I hope you lose your job to a needy American. It's our country. Deal with it. Once we get stable again, you're welcome to come back.

          Nice sentiment but I don't see it playing out that way. Your setting yourself up to be the steelworker of the 21st century...

          • The American dream is not "make money in America and use it to support a family back in another country where the cost of living is pennies on the dollar". In fact, it has a lot to do with things other than economics, but what the hell, right?
            • The American dream is not "make money in America and use it to support a family back in another country where the cost of living is pennies on the dollar". In fact, it has a lot to do with things other than economics, but what the hell, right?

              I submit that if you delve back into the history of most americans, they "make money in America and use it to support a family back in another country where the cost of living is pennies on the dollar" but you were born here so what the hell, right?

              And don't say that you're a native american because according to the original poster, "prefix americans" don't count.
              • but you were born here so what the hell, right?

                Well, yeah. That has something to do with it, and not really in the xenophobic way you're implying.

                Let's establish a little background. Historically, people came to America as immigrants. They'd save up enough money to make the trip or make a deal with some individual or company to get here (or they'd get captured and put on a slave ship, but this particular atrocity isn't really relevant to the conversation we're having). Once here, they'd find work and raise a family. Sure, many sent money back to family overseas, but their family -- their spouse, kids, etc -- were here. This has a modern parallel with many modern immigrants from Latin America; in some parts of Mexico, for instance, the number one source of general income is money from relatives in the US.

                The H1-B worker is a different matter, however. They, by definition, aren't here on any sort of permanent basis. Rather, they're here to provide what is supposed to be stop-gap expertise in technology.

                This places H1 workers at a great advantage over both myself and the more traditional immigrants (let's call them naturalized citizens). While both I and naturalized citizens have our families and dependants here in America (where the cost of living is incredibly high compared to most of Asia), the H1 worker has their dependants in countries like India or Pakistan. This allows them to work for significantly less money -- H1's make, on average, 10-15% less than their citizen counterparts. Moreover, the initial costs related to an H1 mean that they represent a certain investment to a company, meaning that they're actually less likely to be caught up in layoffs than their citizen (again, "native" and naturalized) counterparts.

                So, it's not a fair setup. It allows tech companies to hire cut-rate labor from overseas even while, say, the unemployment rate in the Valley hovers around 8%.

                I resent the fact that any discussion of H1-B workers breaks down immediately into accusations of racism or xenophobia. It's not the people causing the problem, it's the system, a system which was bought and paid for by greedy companies looking to screw their potential workforce by diluting the labor pool. This is bad for me and, frankly, not so hot for the H1's, either -- they're getting paid less to do the same work, aren't they?

                The fix is to eliminate these preferential visas and to instead fasttrack immigration for skilled tech workers. Let workers come to America and compete on a level playing field, and let these poor multi-billion dollar companies pay their workers what the market will bear.

        • This case is cut and dry. H1B workers take American jobs. Period. If all the H1B workers left, there would be more jobs for Americans. And since it is our country, I'm sure you'll understand that we think Americans should have first access to those jobs.

          Wrong. Nafta and other globalization forces desolve the artificial borders of state into one global economic system ruled by the rich (United States) and enforced by the overwhelming military superiority of the US. Read some journals about the militarization of space, and you'll see that the global economic planners want to extend this hegemony well into the next century. (The _Alien_ world is not that far from a reality.)

          In this context, it matters not if you're an American, an Indian, an African, a Chinese--all that matters is that you take what scraps are available. Pampered Americans--those who cheer scabs over unionization--are reaping the whirlwind they've sown.

          YOU get over it.

          I'll tell you like I told a flock of Europeans I met while traveling: Americans do not care about foreigners. When I say we don't care, I don't mean we hate them. I mean we really don't care. They never enter our minds. I spend more time choosing what movie I'm going to see than I do about the petty causes of some country I've never been to.

          And that's the way it should be.


          Total self-absorbed, myopic ignorance proudly displayed--and fully indicative of the points the Indian AC was making.

          "These countries" as you call them, particularly India, were the cradles of civilization when Whitee was a barbarian hoard fucking over his neighbor (and it hasn't changed that much, as your pound-your-ignorant-chest post shows.) Indeed, India was just fine until the Brits raped it, so take care with your overt, jingoistic racism: you haven't a logical or moral leg to stand on.

          As an American who has lived abroad, the one thing *I* can tell you is that Americans are the most embaressing people I've come across: spoiled little children of Empire, their rudeness is only exceeded by their self-righteous certainty that they're better than everyone else. As your post shows, that feeling grows at home, and gets exported whenever the Disney Generation goes abroad.

          You honestly make me ashamed to be an American. Assuming this post reflects your true feelings, you don't give me warm and fuzzies for humanity in general, either.
          • Pampered Americans--those who cheer scabs over unionization--are reaping the whirlwind they've sown.

            That's funny, because I see it the exact opposite.

            What union values skill over seniority? What union congradulates effort over doing the minimum? I can't think of a single one. It's the unions which promote pampered "Americans" -- I would call them pampered employees, not the ones who refuse to work for such an assinine old-boys club.

            • Narrow focus (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Deskpoet ( 215561 )
              I find it interesting that out of several paragraphs of diatribe, a single phrase, with the magic word "union" in it, generated the string of responses, while the rest of the message seems to have slipped under the radar.

              At any rate, I don't prefer unions, either (and I've worked for them in the past, which I imagine most of the /. crowd has not.) Still, I've yet to see an organization other than unions or trade guilds or any word that symbolizes collective worker action that *attempts* to protect the individual from the predatory practices of the tool-owners. It's a fundamental truism that there's safety in numbers, and until Man decides that force isn't the best way to conduct his daily affairs, that truism will remain. And while it is true that union bosses are often little more than crooks, as Enron graphically displays, you don't have to wear the union label to rip off employees.

              In a nutshell, the whole point is that, after all the preaching about open markets and open opportunity, when push comes to shove, Americans cry when someone else does it better than they do, and quickly circle the wagons to ward off those in "fair competition". The originator of this thread would certainly agree with this assertion, as would any Japanese circa 1985, or any European steel executive today. The fundamental irony of the situation is, most of the people here who are "free agents" working for the Man, can't see that in the Cave, their shadows are just as chained as the poor savages' are.

              I don't have any answers for this, but I'm not going to pretend that it's not the way things are. Like you, I'm still taking the money, but the same qualities that make me a "solid information technology performer" absolutely refuse me to allow myself the luxury of cozy, fascistic consumerism that the Lego builders in the cubes around me indulge in.

              • I find it interesting that out of several paragraphs of diatribe, a single phrase, with the magic word "union" in it, generated the string of responses, while the rest of the message seems to have slipped under the radar.

                I was wondering if someone was going to point that out. I was reading the threads and your comment stuck out, and yes it was partly because of the word 'union.' It seemed to try and offer that the only way to avoid a real-life Alien environment is through your union badge. That and the insinuation that people (specifically Americans) who oppose unions are somehow pampered.

                I'll be the first to admit that the word 'union' has some very negative connotations. Hell with the Canadian Auto Workers and OPSEU (Ontario Public Servants), the Teacher's Union and so on it's hard not to equate the word 'union' with 'old boy's club' -- everytime I see or read about a union it's in a negative connotation.

                Now the idea behind unionization is a good thing; don't get me wrong. However a true union is about as hard to achieve and maintain as a true communist society. People are lazy and no matter how many rules you try to circumvent this, you'll end up with a system designed to pamper people at the top.

                The fundamental irony of the situation is, most of the people here who are "free agents" working for the Man, can't see that in the Cave, their shadows are just as chained as the poor savages' are.

                I can faintly see your point here but I'm afraid most of it is lost on me due to the metaphor; can you make it a little clearer for me? I have the sneaking suspicion that I do agree with you. :-)

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Charity starts in the home.

          And, for you, it would stay there forever, or so the famous quote goes.

          Look, you only think you know what you're talking about. The fact of the matter is, so many of the layoffs in this country are due to dot commers with absolutely ZERO real skills to keep them employed after the mountains of completely speculative venture capital were obliterated. It was there choice to work in an industry that had skyscraper intentions but no foundation. That's why so many "techies" are out of work, and the marginalization of businesses due to overprovisioning for future expected business is what hurt and kept down the high-tech industry in the USA. Not high-tech workers from other countries.

          But look at it a different way. As a "foreigner", I was on my H-1B, and nearly got my green card but that process got derailed because all I did was switch high-tech jobs, thanks to INS regulations. To me, that isn't fair. But the good thing is this: thanks to NAFTA and the fact that I'm Canadian, I can come back on a TN visa any time I want, as many times as I want. Free trade doesn't just involve the free exchange of capital goods and services, it involves the exchange of skilled workers. If you kick out all those H-1Bs and don't let them back in permanently, they will take the high-tech skills back to their countries and undermine what you have here.

          So put your economic protectionist FUD in the trash can. You're only hurting yourself and other Americans in the process in the end. And remember - once upon a time, one of your relatives rode a boat over here from somewhere else too.
        • This echoes too much of the Nazi idea of nationalistic purity.

          H1B workers don't take "American" jobs, corporate officers and business owners give "American" jobs to people who are willing to work for the wage corporate officers are willing to give. (They need to protect that 418:1 salary ratio.)

          The whole discussion is much too obtuse to begin with. Generalizing and blaming H1Bs for taking jobs is just lightly veiled prejudice. Each situation is different; just like the original poster can't simply lump 'merikans into a whiny bunch of idiots, you can't simply lump and blame H1Bs for doing anything as a whole. That's bad enough in itself--but the real fallacy lies in the idea that you can blame someone just for being willing to work.

          Funny, there's still people around who really think that they have some additional rights, or are implictly better than someone else simply because their mother happened to be in a certain geographical location when she went into labor.

        • Maybe if these countries spent more time thinking about themselves and unfucking their own lives/governments/economy/etc., they wouldn't even need to come here to work.

          First off if you dont know by now that the US has it's hands in every countries business then I suggest you do some reading. The reason why these countries can't "unfuck" themselves is because the US has other plans for them . For example Iran had a democratic system back in the day, but the US thought oil was more important so with the help of the CIA the shah came back. Years later this hate for what the US did came back, and you had American hostages in Iran. Dont worry Americans aren't the only one's that like freedom, a house, a nice life, etc. but it seems if a country goes away from what the US wants (it risks having it's govt. overthrown [zmag.org]
        • "This case is cut and dry. H1B workers take American jobs. Period."

          Hey,a job is not an object that belongs to someone. Its not a piece of property that someone else can take. A job is a relationship and a kind of economic free association. Are you saying people should not be allowed to associate freely? That they must deal with an American rather than a person they choose or else?

          Why is an abstract thing like a job property, while an invention or software is not?

          Why is creating an "artificial scarcity" through copyright bad, while creating real scarcity through visa limits?

          Even if a job were some kind of property, its created by an employer, not the employee.
          An employee uses a job, the employee doesn't own it.

          What is so shocking in all these threads on slashdot is the incredible sense of entitlement many here have. I see a lot of people who want everthing handed to them: jobs, inventions, music, etc.

          Who are going to be the productive people of the next generation? Who are going to be the whining leaches that want everything for free?

          • Its not a piece of property that someone else can take.

            Really? It supports the employee, and their family, home, car, insurance, medical benefits, taxes, food, clothing, furniture, schooling, investments, retirement, etc.

            An employee uses a job, the employee doesn't own it.

            Thus, the "fired on a whim" attitude of management. No different than the licensing controversy with software and CDs. Nobody owns anything, therefore nobody is owed when the "anything" is taken.

            I see a lot of people who want everthing handed to them: jobs, inventions, music, etc.

            Sure. After several thousand resumes and a year of looking, I'd say the average good programmer is about to the point where they should be handed a job.

            Who are going to be the productive people of the next generation?

            Nobody. Half the people will be sitting in gray cubicles, unable to contribute because they are obstructed by incompetent management. The other half will spend all their productive time looking for work.

        • Amazing, how self-serving the ideology of many is. Would you be willing to pay four, five, even six times or more the amount of money you now pay for food, clothes, and electronic hardware to "protect American jobs" by keeping low-cost labor out of the farms and clothes factories, or by putting tarriffs on imported goods? Are your sneakers made in the US by people making a reasonable living wage? Yet when some other worker is willing to work at $40,000 a year instead of the $100,000 that you expect (thus making the goods produced thereby that much more affordable for all the rest of us), suddenly up come the walls.

          Actually, what I think is sadder is that you, living in a country with virtually the highest standard of living in the world, can still feel like you're in a state of crisis, and that someone from one of the poorest countries in the world should cut *you* slack for it. I don't flame very often, but you're pathetic as well as ungrateful.

          • Actually, what I think is sadder is that you, living in a country with virtually the highest standard of living in the world

            Not true. America merely has the second-highest per-capita GDP in the world. The main reason for this is that a small percentage of Americans are extremely rich.
          • You're such a hypocrite, like every other American. You would have corporations break the law and cut corners, like they already do, so they could deliver a cheap product to you instead of force them to hire qualified people who do quality work and make quality products that cost their true value? I hate paying for an overpriced American car that breaks down in 5 years from a corp that just laid off a few thousand American employees, because they cost too much. I don't care if Ford doesn't make their profits this quarter, that's a few thousand families they just affected without a care. The tech industry is no different. Except with technology, corps have learned they can just buy out their competition and market cheaply made overpriced IP. The main difference is in the tech industry the IP costs a hell of a lot less to duplicate than an automobile. But this same problem plagues everything in our capitalistic system. What gets me is people still think they'll get quality products from cheap labor. Labor eventually wakes up and reallizes their value.
            And foreigners may work harder, but that is not the measure of a man. Steel workers probably work harder than most people, yet their work is not worth $100k/year. And neither is mine, although I can manage a network of computers of any type you choose. But I get paid and the steel worker gets the shaft. That's fucked up! And foreigners work hard, stay longer hours, etc. But do they do as much as I do? I don't know, I don't work along side most of our developers, but I'll tell ya, they certainly don't have a lot of experience with the hardware they work on. And very little with their OSs. Maybe they learned how to write in a couple of languages, but they usually aren't head and shoulders above Americans. Just more prepared and willing, I'd guess.
            Sneakers, good point. Remember when sneakers were really cheap? I don't, I wasn't alive back then. But my mom used to tell me about how she made her own shoes and clothes when she was a kid. Now that we have industrial automation, thanks to the computer and industrial revolutions, we can build factories to pump out hundreds of thousands of sneakers a day. We could make enough for everyone, but what do we do instead? We hire cheap labor to make them by hand and sell them for $100 a pair, using marketting to target them to the high paid middle class Americans, not the workers who make 'em. How sick is that? (I don't have proof, but do you really need it? This should be obvious, from what you've heard about Nike alone).
            What's sad is that everyone still thinks Capitalism works. It doesn't. It allows a select few to get most of the money. And money is based off our labor, so they get most of our labor in their back pocket to spend later. That's sick. That's twisted and fucked up and why I won't work for less than $100k. I probably wouldn't even work for $100k if I didn't have debt. Once that is gone you can't pay me enough for what I know about computers and networks.
            I'll work slave manual labor like everyone else and live in a cheap apartment or whatever in a slow part of the country where everything is still cheap. Sure I know a lot, sure I can make lots of cash, sure its easy. But its not worth it. Its definitely not worth the stress. If I have to work for a company that only wants to make money and doesn't care about the product I'm pouring my soul into, then I don't want to work for that company for any amount of money. I won't sell my soul.
            I say fuck the corps and fuck capitalism. I'll work for free with anyone that wants to work and accomplish something (as long as you agree that we need to take care of eachother, and everyone). Until you come to me and tell me you want to work _with_ me, I'll be at your local drive through taking orders. How's that for your technically competent. Hope they got enough H1Bs.
            P.S. I'd also be willing to relocate to another country that wants to work, as well. I don't like the legal system here in America any more. Its just not as Free as I'd expect a nation founded on freedom to be. And the saddest thing of all is no American is willing to fight for their freedom anymore. :( I want to cry.
        • H1Bs do not take jobs from Americans. There aren't enough educated Americans to fill the demand.

          There wouldn't need to be as many H1Bs if more kids in American schools would actually learn some math and science and become engineers.

          Immigrants have always contributed to success and prosperity in America, and more than in simple proportion to their numbers. A steady influx of the greatest minds and most diligent workers from other parts of the world keeps America in top form. Without it, this country would stagnate into mediocrity.

          Don't believe me? Just ask yourself: What is the background of most engineers in the US? Where do our doctors come from? Where do our professors come from? Now ask yourself: Where do our used car salesmen come from? Insurance agents? Lobbyists?

          Thank goodness for immigration.
        • This case is cut and dry. H1B workers take American jobs. Period. If all the H1B workers left, there would be more jobs for Americans. And since it is our country, I'm sure you'll understand that we think Americans should have first access to those jobs.

          This statement has various flaws. It's almost funny to know that most people think that jobs are somehow a fixed and scarce resource. Jobs are dynamically created and destroyed based on the total economic activity, total demand, and total productive capacity of an economy. If all of the H1B visas were to leave America tomorrow, there would be a significant economic contraction and more job losses.

          Y'see, when someone has a job, they earn money, but they also spend money. The money that they spend creates other jobs. If you get rid of this spending, then the subsidiary employment disappears as well. You may be able to replace these positions with less qualified Americans, but you have still reduced the total productive capacity of the economy by banishing these highly productive workers. This makes the economy smaller and less competitive, which lowers standards of living.
      • As an American, I find YOU offensive. Not Indians, YOU. Your generalisms make you sound prejudiced.

      • US citizens feel infringed, they immediately attack foreigners. Maybe this is why so many countries around the world utterly HATE america?

        Osama?

        American workers are typically not as dedicated or as well educated as their off-shore counterparts (especially in ANY aspect of engineering).

        If you Indians (or any foreigner) think that you're more educated then Americans, why is it that your country sends its young adults to get schooled in America? Be taught by American professors. Your type of arrogance is rampant among foreigners and especially with H1-B visa workers. If you're so intelligent, why doesn't your country attempt to build itself to the type of super power America is? Because most other countries citizens don't have the grit to go through what earlier Americans did. Instead you want the American government to give you annual handouts to feed your people.

        You're mostly here because companies lobbied for you come to here. Most H1-B visa workers are here as cheap labor with white collars.
      • "It is because they can't afford what American tech employees expect for income and benefits, because Amercian workers complain if they have to work more than 40 hours, and because American workers are typically not as dedicated or as well educated as their off-shore counterparts (especially in ANY aspect of engineering)."

        Which is an accurate state of affairs from 1995 to 2001, and applies to neither the period before that, or the present day. You might note that the state of affairs you describe is essentially identical to why Chinese immigrants were encouraged during the CA Gold Rush (1849-1851), and during the construction boom after the American Civil War, esp. in rail construction.

        You should also look at the historical precedents for what happened after that.

        "This is a great country, but when people that call themselves US citizens feel infringed, they immediately attack foriegners. Maybe this is why so many countries around the world utterly HATE america? "

        Which (a) has nothing to do with the previous discussion, and (b) does nothing to explain why those foreign countries and their residents hate teh US on a day-to-day basis, even when we're doing something _good_ for them. Also, you might note that within a generation, you, too, will be assimilated (IF you decide to stay, that is). The same things were said about and by Germans, Irish, Italians, Japanese, and .
      • Amercian workers complain if they have to work more than 40 hours


        Pure and utter bullshit. People in the Valley in high tech work 60, 70, 80 hours a week. WTF do you think so many companies (dot-bomb and not) supply so many home-like perks to employees? (Nap areas, free washing machine service, gyms, showers, etc.)


        American workers are typically not as dedicated or as well educated.....blah blah blah..


        Hey- nothing like gerneralizing societies. Gee- and I thought only Americans were guilty of these things.


        when people that call themselves US citizens feel infringed, they immediately attack foriegners


        Clue time: Xenophobia exists everywhere. Ask your Muslim countrymen who are getting murdered by the majority.


        Maybe this is why so many countries around the world utterly HATE america?

        Countries utterly HATE any country that has massively more influence then them- that human trait goes back centuries. Now uncloak yourself Anonymous Coward.

    • Am I the only one sitting here chuckling about the repeated comparison to doctors and lawyers? Please. Would be a lot better to compare programmers to auto workers or steel workers.
    • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @11:16AM (#3207146)
      It's pathetic that IT worker's are less organized than doctor's, lawyers or even steel workers (who just got a nice present from Bush in terms of tarriffs). Until engineers start educating themselves, and then their fellow engineers, and joining or forming organizations like Washtech, CESO, AEA and the Programmer's Guild, this post-boom slump will last a long, long time. Same old 60 hour weeks and 24/7 oncall, but for less and less pay.

      You see the thing with lawyers is that... they're lawyers. By this I mean that, as people who both make and practice the law, they have insinuated themselves into everyday life. For example, it is impossible to buy or sell real estate without a lawyer. There are many other cases in which you have to have a lawyer. Further, the barriers to entry to become a lawyer are quite high; maybe 4 years of work after your bachelors degree.

      Incidentally, it's about the same amount of work to become a PE (US) or CEng (UK). And you have to be one of these to, say, sign off on structural drawings. But engineers don't have nearly the same amount of clout with legislators that lawyers do (exercise for the reader: how many of the elected officials in your Congress or Parliament at lawyers?)

      The barriers to entry to becoming a programmer are much lower. In fact, I would say that many Slashdotters aren't formally-trained programmers at all, but people who either came into it as a hobby, or program as an aside to their real jobs (say, a physicist who writes numerical code, the code is not the important part of the job, the physics is).

      I strongly question whether a return to the days when programmers were "high priests" of technology that was denied to the common man are desirable. Further, competition and innovation are key to the entire high-tech industry, and they would be strangled by heavily regulated committees that "professions" require - see how slowly the legal profession changes, how conservative lawyers have to be to practice, etc.

      You mention steelmakers... those people are entirely reliant on government protection, their unions demands have made them uncompetitive with US mini-mills, and with mills in Europe and the UK. A situation in which "foreign code" was taxed before being permitted to be executed in the US would be catastrophic.

      Software is rapidly becoming a commodity business, just like steel. That's not a bad thing; it just means that you have to alter the way in which you compete, just like the steel industry's integrated producers can't compete (fairly) with mini-mills.
    • by sigmond ( 88934 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @12:23PM (#3207592)
      The only problem with the H1-B visa program is that it unreasonably ties the visa holder to their employer in a manner that puts downward pressure on salaries. If all H1-B visa holders where allowed to easily change jobs they would not be at a competetive disadvantage regarding salaries and thus would not put a downward pressure on salaries in the industry. Immigration and immigrants are not the problem, bad public policy is.

      Not to mention the obvious fact that the vast majority of US citizens are themselves descendents of immigrants who sound foolish and selfish when they rail against imigration.
      • The only problem with the H1-B visa program is that it unreasonably ties the visa holder to their employer

        No longer true. An H1-B holder who leaves the employment of the sponsor company now has 30 days to find a new sponsor company.

    • Excellent post.

      It seems that every down business cycle leads to massive layoffs and further deterioration of employee conditions (mostly wages), while the up cycles are marked by businesses screaming about a lack of "qualified" workers and demanding a raise in the H-1B cap.

      The de-facto industry definition of qualified seems to be as follows:

      1. The worker must meet around 6-12 skill sets exactly ("I want a 5 bedroom house. It must be blue with white trim. The curtains are beige ..."). Companies hate it when a worker learns something on the job.
      1.1 Lying about #1 on your resume is sometimes OK.
      2. The worker must be easy to intimidate. Usually that means under 40.
      3. The worker usually should not be black or latino or female.
      4. The worker must not leave until the next layoff.

      H1-B's, from my experience tend to meet 1.1, 2, 3 and 4. Having workked with H1-B and other contractors, as well as employees, the overall quality of work of their work is about average or maybe slightly below par (keep in mind I'm averaging over people of vastly different competencies, and I probably don't have a statistically significant sample).

      I don't blame immigrants who want to take advantages of economic opportunities they might not enjoy at home. Neither do I blame the industry. I consider them as a whole to be, if not malicious, then focused entirely on profits and completely unconcerned about their workers, technical or otherwise. However, I don't expect anything better of them.

      I DO blame government, which is supposed to represent my interests as an American citizen. To put a hole in immigration policy for the purpose of making it harder for me to find employment is unforgivable. FWIW, I've written to all my elected representatives on this but don't expect anything to come of this.

      If the US didn't tax expatriates, and if other countries (at least the ones I've looked at) didn't have the audacity to actually favor citizens in hiring practices, then maybe I'd try my hand overseas. Until such time, don't talk to me about competitiveness and the global marketplace.

      My son is going to start college next year. While I would be flattered to have him follow in my footsteps, I will try to dissuade him from pursuing a BS in computer science. I don't know if there will be enough quality employment in his career to justify the investment.

      - cranky.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I read through the entire article and all i found was broad generalizations in amongst finely littered opinion such as "tech is already rebounding".

    I am not trolling but I didn't learn anything, read anything that made me think further, or enjoy this particular article. What am I missing here? Three minutes of my life apparently.

  • There was a tech boom.
    The boom turned into a bubble.
    The bubble burst.
    Life is going on.

    If brevity truly is the soul of wit, I'm the reincarnation of Oscar Wilde.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @09:50AM (#3206757) Journal
    Given the sheer number of companies, as well as the connections for finance, the attitudes that worked well over the past 20 to 40 years are gfoing to be hard to kill off by the simple collapse of a speculative bubble. There is still some demand for the product, vs the craze, let's say, of the tulip industry in Holland a long time ago [ricedelman.com]. While that is taken as a typical example of a stock bubble, it is very different than what happened with the internet.

    The internet has a major infrastructure component to it that continues to grow. the whole thing probably will continue nicely until moore's law fails.

    At that point it will depend a bit on how much that planet has been wired, and how close we are to the "singularity" or machines being "smarter" than humans.

    murphy's law, working in reverse, says that this will happen at or before the point that machines achieve human level intelligence, making it impractical to have armies of super intelligent robots develop before humans figure out what to do about it. (hahaha)

  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @09:52AM (#3206762)
    As far as I can tell, at least this WOZ shit is part of the new tech bubble: wireless. Wireless is great and all, but the adoption rate of wireless usage, at least in the US, is incredibly low. People use cellphones, but only the super-geeks actively go beyond that to use a PDA, WAP, etc. There's a trememndous amount of hype around wireless* right now, and it seems like the gap between tech businesses spending on wireless* and actual consumer usage is even greater than the gap between dot-com spending and consumer usage of the Net.
    • As far as I can tell, at least this WOZ shit is part of the new tech bubble: wireless. Wireless is great and all, but the adoption rate of wireless usage, at least in the US, is incredibly low.

      Up to a point, what you say is true. People expecting that wireless anything will suddenly take off overnight probably burned off as many billions as any other one single thing. Worse, the success of wireless crucially depends on the adoption rate, given that much of the value comes from network effects.

      That said, it's remarkably clear that wireless *is* generally going to be where the world is going. We don't know who are going to be the billionaires yet, but billionaires there will be. For that matter, it's not necessarily true that Silicon Valley will be where the Next Big Wireless Thing will come from, but this is a reasonable guess. So I suspect that dozens of smaller start-ups will do what start-ups do, and eventually hit on the combination of application and technology that will become what people must have.

      People use cellphones, but only the super-geeks actively go beyond that to use a PDA, WAP, etc.

      Absolutely. And ten years ago, cellphones could be something of a status symbol and nobody's grandma ever used email. Ten years ago, I'm not sure you could get GPS in anything but the most expensive or pretentious cars; five years from now, I'd be shocked if it weren't stock equipment on a Corolla. Yes, it takes a surprisingly long time for things to happen, and lots of bad ideas get funded in the mean time.

      It's maybe a discouraging thing that past and current results do not predict future returns in the stock market, but it's a very encouraging thing that they don't help you much when it comes to technological innovation.

    • >>rate of wireless usage, at least in the US, is incredibly low

      Wireless usage is high in Japan and Europe. What is wrong with producing and designing this technology here (and there) and selling it there?

      The movers and shakers in Sili Valley don't think like you. They see a potential money maker (and risk or not) they invest. They manage the risk, but they still take the risk. You and I probably can't afford to take that risk (I know *I* can't), but these guys can.
    • The other component of WOZ asks the question "what nifty things could you do with automated location if that capability was nearly free?" What if all appliances, vehicles, computers, and people always knew where they were and everything else of importance was?

      The trend toward general purpose GPS devices falling to $100 plus putting one in every vehicle and cellphone means someone will come up with a barebones tranceiver for a few dollars, if not already.
    • I disagree.

      It's easy to dismiss "wireless" - yeah, yeah, what's the big deal - but any device that gets information without wires falls under this category. This is huge - it means changing how you interact with information. If you want to know about something, you have access to that information instantly from whereever you are.

      Here's an analogy. You need to think BIG. Way out of the box. You know how in 1993, if you wanted to know about Scoobi-doo, you really didn't have many options. Seriously, follow me. There were the re-runs on TV and maybe a book or an article in the library in a periodical (where you had to search a static DB to find the record number and then order the magazine or whatnot via inter-library services...) but there wasn't much options available to you.

      Now you can go to Google, do a look up on Scoobi-doo and find a history of cartoon, the names of the creators, a full listing of ALL the episodes and more. Instantly and easily. In 1993 you would never have thought that this level of information would ever been possible especially with an ease of use that your Mom could do it, but now you don't think twice about it.

      The same transition is going to happen to today's geek-toys both in functionality and ease of use. With wireless devices you have access to any random bit of information (like Scoobi-doo) but WHERE EVER you are. No need to find some stationary connected device, you can now find that same info in the car, while walking, in the office, at home, etc.

      More than that, you can start combining technologies and get even MORE info. Like WOZ you can combine wireless with GPS and find information about where you are (or your friends or children), or the building you're in or the street you're on, or you can combine the wireless device with voice technologies and now you can get a lot of that info while you're driving or doing some other hands-occupying activity.

      So before you blow wireless off as just another bubble, do a leap of logic. Like those old AT&T commercials. What wouldn't you ever expect to be able to do on the beach or the side of a mountain? That's what's coming in the next 5 years.

      -Russ

  • ...The economy rises, and falls. The tech sector also went through another boom, during the 80's (during the cold war era) ...but then there was a massive batch of layoffs due to defense cut backs ... then along comes the proliferation of the internet, and another boom... then a big burst in the bubble from bad investors... now another rise... ad nauseum....

    Thats why I laugh when people think the End Is Near (tm). And, I also laugh when they think that these days are 'hard times'. No, hard times was when during the 80's my father would go on strike against Ma Bell for 6 months to a year at a time, and try to support 3 kids at the same time... This current market slowdown is an inconvenience... not the big catastrophe everybody seems to think it is
    • For me, the 'hard times' were the 70's, when I'd just gotten married, got my first software-engineer job at $23K/year, and found that a small 2-bedroom house in LA near my work would cost over $150K.

      But I'm sure people who lived through the 30's and 40's also have their stories...
  • Why?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @10:01AM (#3206785) Homepage
    why would any company try and cripple it's self with the plysical location of being in Silicon Valley? you have to pay 10 times what your competitors do in the midwest and the south do for the building, labor,equipment,supplies,everything.

    The insanity of overpaying for everything that caused the crash of a few years ago does not need to be repeated....
    • At least in the last several years, it's because that's where you could find the best (or already experienced) technical talent. That's not to say that technically talented people don't exist in other parts of the world, but they certainly do concentrate in that area. Take, for example, technical support. Not a highly skilled position, but one requiring a certain skill level and generally some previous experience. In the Silicon Valley, you had NO problem finding qualified and experienced technicians. When my previous company moved it's technical support operations to a midwest location, recruiting became VERY difficult (even with the stellar wages, for the area anyway) - finding any quantity of technically skilled and experienced people was very difficult.

      So, why, you ask? You set up shop where you can find and retain people.

      • Re:Why?? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by alen ( 225700 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @10:29AM (#3206884)
        The rest of the US is a very big place. Atlanta and Dallas have high tech companies with only a fraction of the expenses. Just because you couldn't recruit in one location probably just means you chose a poor location. Set up shop 60 minute drive from a large populated area and you should be OK.
        • Agreed - you can get qualified tech talent in other places too. Seeing as I have lived at worked in the Silicon Valley, and now live and work in the Dallas area, I can tell you that the sheer number of people who are in California gives Silicon Valley the edge. That's not to say that the problems are insurmountable - obviously I've found work here, and find the conditions more favorable than California. As another poster in this thread commented, there are certain intangibles that make a certain area popular for a given industry... Detroit (autos), Los Angeles (movies), New York (media), and the Silicon Valley (tech) all come to mind.

          Some of it has to do with the physical area - California has a nice climate, etc. In the case of tech, however, you want to be near other tech companies - you have a common pool of resources, other local companies with which to do business, etc. Sure this process could be started over somewhere else, but by the time you've amassed the same kind of resources (technical talent, other tech companies, etc), you've recreated the same artificial cost increases by increasing demand.

        • People always say that the SV's days are numbered whenever there's a slump; you always hear about how all the jobs are migrating to Virginia or Texas or Wisconsin or wherever, but it's just not so.

          Everyone here recognizes that this is where all the tech companies are, that this is where the Next Big Thing will come out of, and this is where everyone will want to be two years from now. It's worked that way a half dozen times in a row, and I don't see any reason to believe that this is about to change.

          People have a way of ignoring long term cycles and focusing only on what's right in front of them -- this is why so many seemingly smart people got burned when the bubble popped, why so many people still say the Bay Area housing market is invincible, and why people are yet again prognosticating that the Silicon Valley's days are over.

          Well, I wouldn't put my money on it. In fact, I can't think of anyplace else I'd want to be right now -- the low points are actually the big opportunities. Take the long view, then talk to me in a few years.

      • Re:Why?? (Score:2, Informative)

        by slam smith ( 61863 )
        The converse applies as well. Having too many companies can hurt you. I remember in the late 90's my old company had a satellite office in San Jose. I'd have some people I would work with out there who would leave after 6 monthes. You'd get comfortable with the people you were working with and then they would go across the street to another company. The California workers earned a lot more than I did(of course my salary here in Utah bought more) but because of the constant churning, it seemed that they always got less done. They were always training new people. By the time they got up to speed, it was time to jump jobs again. The insanity of it all used to frustrate me enormously.

        I assume this has changed now with bubble having burst. But, I would likely never locate a company in Silicon Valley for this reason alone.

        If you choose your location well, you shouldn't have any trouble finding adequate people.
      • At least in the last several years, it's because that's where you could find the best (or already experienced) technical talent. That's not to say that technically talented people don't exist in other parts of the world, but they certainly do concentrate in that area.

        You are obviously right, however... :-)

        The success of many manufacturing industries used to depend on their location in a very systematic way. You had to be "close" to markets, to materials, and to an appropriate labor force. So all the steel mills ended up in places like Pittsburgh, cars were made in Detroit, textiles and shoes in New England. In today's economy, manufacturing can be put almost anywhere, but there is still a big clustering effect in industries that need what have been (annoyingly) called "knowledge workers". And part of that surely makes sense. For one thing:

        Take, for example, technical support. Not a highly skilled position, but one requiring a certain skill level and generally some previous experience. In the Silicon Valley, you had NO problem finding qualified and experienced technicians. When my previous company moved it's technical support operations to a midwest location, recruiting became VERY difficult (even with the stellar wages, for the area anyway) - finding any quantity of technically skilled and experienced people was very difficult.

        And the reason was obvious: anybody who thought they were somebody wanted to be in {Silicon Valley, Dallas, Boston, wherever} because that's where all of the jobs were... In the short run, I think you are absolutely right that this is a critical problem. In the longer run, I'm not so sure. And the reason is, ironically enough:

        So, why, you ask? You set up shop where you can find and retain people.

        Now, I think the second part (retention) is likely to become a more important issue. During the internet bubble days, you could rely on a huge influx of very young talent into the SV area, since people were willing to blow off college, regional (or even national) ties, and a lot of other things to be involved in the Gold Rush. After the Gold Rush, though, some things can and will revert to normal. Fortunately for the people who want to stay in Silicon Valley, it has way more attractions than many former gold rush towns. Unfortunately for the people who expect SV to continue to be the be-all and end-all of high technology, the workers you may want and need in the coming years might be a bit different than the starry-eyed youth who flew out to California in the late 90s.

        In particular, they are older and wiser. Many more of them are likely to have families, and suddenly things that didn't matter before (really boring stuff like housing affordability and public schools) *will* become more important. At that point, some locations away from the coasts suddenly seem more attractive. Yes, we'd all love to live next to an art museum at some point, but the slightly older geek might want a back yard, too.

        Now, I'm not saying that people will spontaneously move out of the Valley *just* to capture a lower cost of living, but I'm willing to bet that a lot of people who turned up their noses at non-coastal living could be persuaded to try it.

        Disclaimer: I live in a growing college town in the Midwest, so I may be wishcasting here (I would love there to be more geeks around here). On the other hand, I know my house would have cost over a million in San Diego (about seven times as much as what you'd pay here), and we have much better public schools. Also much less traffic. Hmm, on second thought, maybe you all should just stay where you are. :-)

    • Re:Why?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lysurgon ( 126252 ) <.moc.hsojhsidnaltuo. .ta. .khsoj.> on Friday March 22, 2002 @10:18AM (#3206834) Homepage Journal
      why would any company try and cripple it's self with the plysical location of being in Silicon Valley?

      Because location matters. It matters when you have to get people to move somewhere to work for you. It matters what the culture surrounding your business is. It matters what your employees do when their off work. Are they bing stimulated and engaged by other bright people with hip new ideas or are they at home with a miller high life watching NASCAR?

      I personally have a soft spot for High Life, but in all seriousness location is a key factor if you want to have a great company. There's a lot more to making a breakthrough than the bottom line of rents and such. It's the difference between turning a profit and being "insanely great".

      Most high tech companies on the cutting edge are going to fail no matter what. The Edge [c.f. William Gibson] that pushes them over the top is not the ability to cut costs on rent and equipment, it's highly talented people that are motivated to work for your company. With all due respect for both geographic regions, that's a hard sell in the Midwest and the South. If you're looking to take an already proven idea and turn some profit, the Midwest, South and Northwest are where it's at. AOL started out in Virginia for a reason.

      To conlclude, there's only one Broadway, there's only one Wall Street, and there's only one Sillicon Valley. You're either there, or your not really in the game. It's one of the many things that doesn't make economic sense, (love, charity, punk rock, etc) yet it is a real phenomina.
      • Re:Why?? (Score:3, Informative)

        by yndrd ( 529288 )
        I suspect, however, that employees might have other priorities than the illusion of night life and culture. I mean, let's face it: how many of techies go to the opera? Or do all of the other things supposedly offered by a large city? Do you go to Starbucks to hang with your fellow developers, or use e-mail or chat?

        I'm relocating from Northern Virginia to Florida because I can live like a king on my salary and because, frankly, every time I have to fight a throng of people to do something up here, I feel heart muscle degenerating.

        That's all part of my changing priorities, and I've observed similar changes in other technical folk.

        I've discovered a smaller place with better traffic that has all of the things I need (or a broadband connection to order them), but few of the things that frustrate me. To dismiss smaller cities as enclaves of NASCAR-watching idiots forgets a fundamental truth: the people in other cities are just as idiotic but in different ways.

        Yeah, Broadway and Wall Street and Silicon Valley are centers of their industries, but there's a reason the real players eventually move away from them, too.
        • Yeah, Broadway and Wall Street and Silicon Valley are centers of their industries, but there's a reason the real players eventually move away from them, too.

          Granted. And in the long run, "where it's at" will change and "it will be happening" somewhere else. However, disused/rural areas of the globe with little proximity to other cultural/economic/business activity are rather unlikely to ever be a hot spot.

          I could take a wild guess and say that you're probably getting older or more mature or married or having kids. That's not a flame, by the way. It's a beautiful thing. But as ones changing priorities lead one more and more into a life of comfort, privacy, and (as you put it) "liviing like a king", one is less and less likely to effect massive change.

          Not that effecting massive change is ever all that likely, but if you move to North Florida (beautiful country by the way) you're really taking yourself out of the game. But, again, if that's not a priority -- and why should it be compared to family and such -- I say cheers to you. Just don't expect a little known North Florida company to re-make the future of computing.

          To dismiss smaller cities as enclaves of NASCAR-watching idiots forgets a fundamental truth: the people in other cities are just as idiotic but in different ways.

          Point taken. I live in NYC (brooklyn) and I think most of the people can be hugely idiotic. They just have a lot more money to throw around than your typical resident of Tampa Bay. I honestly don't think it's the people who are stupid, but rather the culture. If it really came down to it, there's a lot more to like in the culture of babecue and auto-racing then there is in NYC clubland.

          There's nothing like driving across Florida/Gerogia, no shirt on, back sticking to cracked vinyl upholstry, a bottle of sun tea coming to fruition on the dashboard, blasting Creedence. Livin' the dream, I tells ya.
          • Heh... you read like a weblog. :)
            • Ok, you're obviously "with it" if you know about molecular manufacturing (nano fabs and such).

              I'm curoious, what does it mean to "read like a weblog". The 'blog being a rather new literaty incantation and my experience with it being slim, I don't really know what you mean. I'd love it if you could define what would you say the properties of readling like a weblog are. In all candor, I'm seroious.
          • Just don't expect a little known North Florida company to re-make the future of computing.

            Well, hey, Isn't Vinnie Falco -- the slimy BearShare programmer -- from Florda? I think he is. :)

            Location really is losing relevence though... and it won't mean a damn once we've got AI directing molecular manufacturing in Bumfuck, Iowa.

            --

    • why would any company try and cripple it's self with the plysical location of being in Silicon Valley?

      Yes, why would any company want to locate itself in the most concentrated, diverse market for tech talent in the world?

      Where else can you hang out your shingle pushing some new-fangled cutting edge tech, and actually have a reasonable expectation of getting a renewable stream of labor that can actually keep up?

      Sure you could find a plot of ground in the middle of Kansas for next to nothing, but you are also going to have a hard time getting talent through your door.

      As a counter argument, I ask that you name three wildly succesful tech companies that locate themselves in the middle of nowhere.

      • I don't think anyone's saying it's wise to set up a high-tech startup in the middle of Kansas farmland ... but I also think many people play down the suitability of larger midwestern cities.

        For example, look at Chicago. You've got a number of major players there (AKA. Motorola), and IBM certainly has a large presence. In a recent survey, Chicago was in the top 20 for tech-savvy cities. You can't tell me it's impossible to find tech-knowledgable people in the Chicagoland area!

        There are many disadvantages to the Silicon Valley area. Questions about electrical power available should certainly be key, along with the high risk of earthquake damage, heavy taxes and govt. regulation, occasional water shortages, and an expectation of high wages so employees can afford the high cost of living in the area.

        Sure, the weather is great -- but I'd gladly trade some of that off for more personal freedoms. (I like being able to own my own home, instead of pay out big $'s just to rent from someone. I also like being able to drive my car when and where I want to go someplace, and not get penalized with stricter emissions requirements than the other 49 states have.)

        Oh, and FYI, I don't even live in Chicago. I've just visited enough to know that it'd be a prime choice if I was to form a tech. company.

        • I don't think anyone's saying it's wise to set up a high-tech startup in the middle of Kansas farmland ... but I also think many people play down the suitability of larger midwestern cities.

          Surprisingly, there *is* a decently viable tech/professional place that was Kansas farmland not very long ago: Overland Park, Kansas. (OK, so it is adjacent to Kansas City. :-)) But Sprint just laid off thousands of people there, and I have to wonder what might be coming out of the garages in the area in the next year or three. (For all I know, nothing.)

          For example, look at Chicago. You've got a number of major players there (AKA. Motorola), and IBM certainly has a large presence. In a recent survey, Chicago was in the top 20 for tech-savvy cities. You can't tell me it's impossible to find tech-knowledgable people in the Chicagoland area!

          No I can't tell you that, but I can tell you that while there is *some* cost advantage to Chicago over California, it might not be as obvious a relocation spot as you might think for a SV concern. So it was no surprise that Boeing decided to go there, but that's perhaps a different story.

          There are many disadvantages to the Silicon Valley area. Questions about electrical power available should certainly be key, along with the high risk of earthquake damage, heavy taxes and govt. regulation, occasional water shortages, and an expectation of high wages so employees can afford the high cost of living in the area.

          The funny thing about the electrical power shortage is that it disappeared the moment that the state signed high-price long-term contracts. The potential for earthquake damage is worrisome, but it would be interesting to compare the size of that risk with the bite that Chicago's winters take out of the infrastructure each and every year. California certainly has some bizarre governmental problems, but Chicago doesn't?

          Anyway, I think the big key point in California's favor, and it's a huge one, is the quality of the public and private universities there. The UC system is as elitist a public institution as you're likely to find, and that's *exactly* what it should be. Throw in places like Stanford, and you've got a recruiting dream boat.

          As far as employment costs go, you could actually make an argument that (at least in non-bubble times) real costs are likely to be lower in California than some other places, because people like California and are willing to pay more rent and/or take less money to work there. (I won't bore you with the details, but if you're puzzled by this, search for "hedonic regression" at google.

          Now, I happen to agree with you that places like Chicago, Pittsburgh, KC and St. Louis might be expected to develop larger tech sectors than they already have, but it hasn't yet happened that way. Of these 4, perhaps the strangest omission is not Chicago, but Pittsburgh: There's a big university town with many cultural offerings, a large and growing international population, and every reason to succeed except that it just doesn't quite do it.

    • why would any company try and cripple it's self with the plysical location of being in Silicon Valley? you have to pay 10 times what your competitors do in the midwest and the south do for the building, labor,equipment,supplies,everything.

      Exactly! I don't know why all those morons in Silicon Valley didn't see this coming; it's not like it's without historical prescident, right?

      For instance, remember back in 1920 when all of those financial companies moved out of Manhattan to the midwest? Having the NASDAQ based in Eau Claire, WI was a great cost-saving move, and I must say that the 100-story Merrill-Lynch building in Rochester, MN is a thing of beauty. In fact, I was in New York last year, and the ghost town that is Manhattan was just sort of creepy -- guess that's what happens when things get too expensive.

      Seriously: Business flourishes in a hot-house environment because it draws people. If you want to living the the South, be my guest, but don't fool yourself and believe that there's going to be some sort of outflow to other parts of the country.

  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Friday March 22, 2002 @10:07AM (#3206803)
    Sure, there is going to be a post-bust feeding frenzy when some of the freed-up talent gets gobbled up by the Silicon Valley survivors, but remember that most of the talented workers never actually owned property there. It's no wonder, when $.5M buys you something only slightly nicer than a shack in a sprawling, lifeless suburb.

    If you were like many of the local workers who were renting and saving up, you simply cannot stay after your job evaporated. I'm not sure if the people are leaving to Seattle, Austin, India or whatever, but don't hold your breath waiting for Silicon Valley to rebloom.

    In the long run, don't expect the job providers to stay, either. Other states are giving much better tax incentives to tech firms, who realize that Bay Area workers are much more expensive (and only marginally better), not because they're greedy, but because they have to pay the outregeous living costs.

    • I'm not terribly sure about that last bit.

      What's the last group of people to get the axe at a failing company, other than the executives? S&M[1], that's who, because they help supply the lifeblood of the company (in theory).

      A competent S&M group actually can work wonders; look at Jack in the Box, Volkswagen, and Ikea -- companies that have, at one point or another, virtually risen from the dead because they had both marketing and technical (engineering) geeks. One of the key things behind S&M, though, is that it depends on /image/ -- the way a company is perceived by its customers, partners, and competition. Having an office based in "San Fransisco, CA" or "New York, NY" looks a lot better on your company's letterhead than does "Bubbaville, TN", in much the same way that driving a Ferrari looks better than driving an Oldsmobile[2].

      For the record, I'm a technical geek -- I make my living playing with various flavors of Unix. But I've had a more in-depth experience with marketing types than most, and while about 90% of them are worthless crap, the top 10% are incredibly nifty and effective people.

      [1] Sales and Marketing for the acronym-impared.
    • Sure, there is going to be a post-bust feeding frenzy when some of the freed-up talent gets gobbled up by the Silicon Valley survivors, but remember that most of the talented workers never actually owned property there.

      Thats bullshit. Who do you think owns the land, farmers? The fact that you can't afford a house in the Bay Area is a myth. In Santa Clara county the average home price is around $500k. I'm not talking mansions here, but its a house that you own with land underneath. If you are a professional techie, you are bringing in around $85k, and if you are married, you are likely looking at household income of around $130k. Now your banker will tell you that you can expect to pay 20x your take-home pay for your house, so in reality this is in line with expectations.

      If you are pulling in $50k or less you should either marry someone who makes a lot of money or move - but then again this is the same story in London and Manhatten.

    • Gee, I seem to remember pundits saying the exact same thing around 91-92.

      Face facts. Lots of truly intelligent people live in SIlicon Valley and love tech. They also have a knack for taking a risk and dusting themselves off if it doesn't work or moving on to something new if it does. And they like the area, so they are not moving anytime soon.

      Other areas of the country WILL develop technology too (or the next big thing that is not tech related), but as another poster pointed out, location matters. For whatever nebulous, 'magical' reasons, The Valley is the location to be for tech. The cycle continues ...
  • ...I'm wondering how my old employers, Zeus Technology [zeus.com] are going to take to this name.

    Elgon

  • Silicon Valley was the place to be and could well be again. Being around all those other hardcore developers in the late 80's and early 90's, was so exciting and brilliant for my professional and personal development.

    We also had some great parties out there - anyone go to those - bet you've all got some great stories.
  • From the article:

    "'After hiding in the bushes, they use those little tin "cricket-clicker" doodads to find each other and regroup.'

    "Click-click.

    "Click."

    I'm reminded sharply of an episode of "Dilbert", where, after Dilbert shows off to Dogbert his latest useless technological toy, Dogbert says to him, "The scary thing is that progress depends on people like you."

    hyacinthus.
  • Re.. what? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    I think the word you're looking for is reborn, not "rebirthed".
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday March 22, 2002 @12:02PM (#3207429) Homepage Journal
    Silicon Valley is crowded, expensive, and generally lacking in culture. I think most people who have lived in any major metro area and then have lived in the Valley can attest to that.

    There are also plenty of other areas that have the combination of nice weather, great universities, and educated populations.

    But Silicon Valley is different in that the venture capital community there is not nearly as risk-averse as it is in many other places. While this leads to catastrophic failures (like the dot-bombs), it also leads to successes like Intel and Apple.

    Another key factor is that in the Valley, having been involved in a start-up failure is not seen as a black mark - it's seen as proof that you've been tested, and that you've probably learned some lessons.

    In my opinion, this willingness to experiment, learn from mistakes, and move on, is a hallmark of Silicon Valley business. I'm no fortune-teller, so I don't know if it will be enough to pull the Valley out of its current probems. But if the Valley recovers, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

    • Silicon Valley is crowded, expensive, and generally lacking in culture. I think most people who have lived in any major metro area and then have lived in the Valley can attest to that.

      I won't dispute crowded (what city isn't? isn't that the definition of a city??), and yes its expensive (what place worth living isn't??), but I challenge the culture bit. San Fran has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the US. It is often cited as the eating capital of the country. And I'm not talking Hardee's and Carl's Jr. I can catch off-Broadway shoes in San Fran and also in San Jose. San Fran has a world-class symphony and there are a number of respectable galleries. There are stunning parks all around the Bay. There are hippies in Santa Cruz, space cadets in San Fran, and the wine capital of North America all in driving distance. In fact wine is quickly becoming a huge economic driver in the Bay Area.

      And I can go from the beach to Olympic skiing in four hours by car. where else can you do this again?

      • Ahem. I have to correct you on one point. Houston has the highest density of restaurants among cities in America, followed by Dallas (Sante Fe is still the king, but it's so small as to fall below size requirements for the survey I read). It's one of the few things Texas gets right. The food in Houston is quite good and cheap, with a wide variety of ethnic options. People from Houston also eat out more often than any other city in America (which is why there's so many restaurants).

        But, other than that, I certainly agree with your references to San Fran. But Silicon Valley (Palo Alto and such) really is a suburban wasteland. If you focus on Silicon Valley and not the greater Bay Area, I think you may be able to claim a lack of culture. But even that is probably a stretch.
      • I definitely agree with your assessment of SF culture, and since I live in Santa Cruz, I agree about the presence of many hippies. ;-)

        But SF and Santa Cruz aren't in Silicon Valley - just ask anyone who lives in San Francisco or Santa Cruz, and they'll definitely tell you that they don't live in Silicon Valley.

  • This is nothing new, in the early nineties you could find seriously technical people tending bar to make ends meet. The same is happening again - the readjustment of wages and companies as the world's healthiest corporate ecology gears up for the next round.

    Yes its fun to dig on this place - it has hubris, ego, and arrogance. But it also has the best array of tech talent in the smallest area of any place on earth. It seriously moving towards biotech and other emerging technologies. It will likely continue to be a center for venture capital. It continues to be an academic powerhouse.

    So gets your digs in now while its still at a low. Ten years from now real estate there will be even more absurdly expensive, and there will be even more innovation coming out of this continuingly diverse ecology of ideas.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    To all the haters and disbelievers:

    To say that Silicon Valley is going to be "reborn" is as obvious as saying that the sun will rise again someday. To say that Silicon Valley will never rise again is as stupid as saying that the sun will never rise again.

    OF COURSE SILICON VALLEY WILL RISE AGAIN! How ridiculously obvious is that? Why? Because people want to be rich! Because people want to innovate! Where else are you going to do it, except in Silicon Valley? You have VCs, you have workers, you have the beautiful backdrop, you have the history. The real dreamers, the real entrepreneurs, the real winners aren't just going to drop everything and leave because it's too expensive or because there are no more jobs. THEY CREATE JOBS! If they need more money, they work harder!

    I live in the heart of Silicon Valley. Yes, every apartment building has signs up BEGGING for renters. Yes, there are very few jobs, and yes I know many people that have been laid off, and some good friends that have gone back to their homelands like India because they have no hope of finding a job. These are the casualties of any recession.

    But give it a year, a few years, and the innovators will rise again. Innovation == wealth creation. Everyone here has dreams of being rich and is willing to work hard for it.

    You cannot fine the concentration of highly skilled workers like you can in Silicon Valley. I came from Toronto, Canada's largest city, and everyone there has a middle-class attitude. Work 9-5, get a 3% raise every year, go home and watch TV. I moved here because I was sick of it, and everyone around here has BMWs, $500000+ houses, and absolutely loves what they do. My own personal salary initially tripled upon coming here (as did my rent) and over the past 5 years, my salary has gone up 100% since then. I now work 10-12 hours a day, instead of 6-8 hours a day before, but I fucking love what I do. This is the difference, and this is why Silicon Valley will always rise from the ashes.

    When you want to be in the movies, you don't go to Atlanta, or Tampa Bay, or Columbus, or even New York. YOU GO TO HOLLYWOOD, STUPID. If you don't make it in Hollywood, you aren't worth shit. It's exactly the same way with IT. You want to be in Silicon Valley if you want to make it big in technology.

    Last time it was the Internet. Next time, who knows what it will be, but there will be a next time!
  • Silicon Valley doesn't need a rebirth, its doing fine, other than the occasional crazy merger or lawsuit. The problem is people take everything so seriously. Check out this site for a more satirical view of life in the valley
    http://www.valleyofthegeeks.com
  • He's my favorite tech writer, thanks in no small part to his hacker love story "Hackers" which I've read a dozen times. This is a man who knows his tech roots. It's only fitting that he cover the Woz.
  • 1993, finished school middle of winter middle of PA, had to kick out the mazda hatchback to open the driver door from the inside, temp was -30F. loaded up all belongings (except computer which i donated to a fellow student), and rode the truck trails in the snow out of town. southwest through MO, NM and finally up I-5 to silly valley. five days, incredible back pain.

    stayed a week at a friend's, found a room in a house (the first of 7 moves in 4 years), got a vt220 from stanford salvage and a 14.4 from frys, finished up codeline.el and hideshow.el in the soft amber of the beautiful vt220 font (did devel on netcom when they used to support shell accounts). perused ba.jobs.contract, shocked by disconnect displayed therein. eventually answered a "puzzle" ad for some "consulting" house that finangled me into a trip to MN (even colder than PA) for "training" w/ eventual relo to NYC. 3mo later (snow in may) the relo scam is revealed and i quit (the job sucked too).

    back to silly valley, the hatchback sporting a linux bumper sticker (it's not just for breakfast anymore), hooked up w/ taos who were pretty cool, wish i had studied a little before the interview. gigged at some TLAs (unix ws vendors who are still around), i remember my pimp being a pretty pittsburgh transplant, how she said silly valley was not in her 5-year plan.

    a week later i offered a hitchhiker a ride on el camino and learned that she's a prostitute. didn't indulge, but did tour the adult clubs. lonely. no culture. sorry, it's too depressing to continue this story....

"Intelligence without character is a dangerous thing." -- G. Steinem

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