It must be Google’s familiarity (3,5 billion hits every day), Facebook’s success (more than 2,2 billion active users) or Apple’s penetration of the entire world (more than one billion iPhones sold since 2007). It must be all the books and the films that have told the tale of Silicon Valley, or its unparalleled numbers: thousands of established businesses and young startups providing work to almost 300,000 people, with the highest rents and median income (145,000 dollars) in America. In fact, in May 2018 Forbes named the valley south of San Francisco “California’s hottest new tourism hotspot”. Companies like Facebook, Google and Apple (but Adobe, eBay, HP, Intel, Tesla, Twitter, Uber and many others as well) have become places of pilgrimage, secular shrines in front of which you can take a selfie. But Silicon Valley is more than Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. As the historian Leslie Berlin maintains in her recent book Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age, “what happened here and is still happening is the result of the work of hundreds of engineers from dozens of different countries, whose names no one has ever heard of”. The same engineers that meet up at Stanford University – the real incubator of Silicon Valley – or in the cafes of Palo Alto and Mountain View, where at this very moment two unknown nerds in t-shirts and flip-flops are probably inventing something which has never been imagined before.
( 2018 )