The day started at the outpost of swisscom. For all of us non-swissonians: swisscom is like the Telekom in Germany or A1 in Austria. For the first time we actually got an introduction into the Valley’s beginning and history. Do you even Google, Bro? Yes, alright, we could easily look that up in no time, but I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t do it and I assume only very little of my fellow #buisdev enthusiast did. The reason why this issue actually mattered was that it would reveal a paradox within the Valley. The Hippie era of entrepreneurship was mostly driven by the military. Wait what? Yup, you read right. Those Hippie developers innovated for the military. Doesn’t quite fit the „Peace, Love and Happiness“ approach to life. Later VC’s took that role and still drive entrepreneurship, at least when it comes to money.
At some point or the other I almost felt as if I was beamed back to some meeting room in the DACH region. A classic PPT presentation with lots of beloved charts, generic graphics and statistics. And so much information on only one slide? How is that even possible?
Can you smell this? It smells as if something is burning. No wait, it’s fine, that’s just my sarcasm. 😉
The design might not have been easy to the eye BUT the content mattered. At this point all my strategic needs were fulfilled entirely. If you know me, you know that I’m a sucker for strategic concepts. Lukas explained why it is important to have an outpost for an European company in the Silicon Valley and how it is set up properly.
Most important for me: swisscom introduced a new department (digital business, directly reports to the CEO) which is working on concepts to disrupt their own business. So basically their working on ways to destroy their current business models. Those swiss guys got game, let me tell you that. As we already heard at Microsoft, the CEO has to be the one promoting this approach. He has to be the sponsor. If not, all innovation will be nipped in the bud. All the established departments will panic and work against disruptive innovation. So, such a neat, litte outpost can come in handy at this point.
At lunch I got the chance to sit next to Fabio and Genc. Their team won two awards at the Hack Zürich hackathon. In less than 40 hours, they developed the web-based PowerParrot application that enables presenters at a conference or meeting to automatically transcribe and translate their speech in real-time, displayed right on the current slide. As a prize the team of four got invited by GZA to present their innovation here in San Francisco. They also got to visit Facebook and Google. Must admit, I’m a little bit jealous.
We chatted about how the best innovation, code or algorithm can fail if the developers are unable to market their idea. Developers are often really in L.O.V.E. with their software and forget to think it all through: target groups, business models and cash flow. That’s one of the reasons they might struggle to find investors. Another example that business and IT need each other.
I like to imagine the relationship between IT and business just like Penny’s and Leonard’s in #TBBT. Aren’t they a cute couple? Right? And they’re far better off together.
Our plan was to go to Pier 17 and swissnex in San Francisco after lunch. We were already late after our „disruptive“ lunch (wich challenged established etiquette) and to make things worse, 101 has been shut down completely due to a bomb alert. Luckily I was tired enough to sleep through that two hour traffic jam. We only had very little time left at swissnex and I’m glad it turned out that way. I felt like I had left everything exciting about Silicon Valley behind, except the architecture. Bye bye fun, innovation and personality and hello corporate establishment. „But the heart wants what it wants.“ (Selena Gomez) So we left and enjoyed the sunset at Fishermans Warf. I will only include the fun pictures. 😉