I spend every year some weeks in San Francisco and in the Silicon Valley. My company has a partnership with Swissnex (www.swissnex.org) as our outpost to the Valley. Swissnex is a private public partnership for new technologies. Partly financed through the Swiss government and third parties involved companies. During that time, I have visited a lot of start-ups. What I have realized through all these meetings is the different spirit and the different mindset.
In Europe normally, companies are looking for themselves and try to serve their industry at the best. Companies compete with each other; even small companies and start-ups do not work with each other if they stay in direct competition. In the Valley networking is the most important part, to find out who or which company could help someone to get to the next level of product or service. Everybody tries to evolve the ecosystem in which they operate because if an ecosystem growth or can be evolved the whole system will benefit and so everybody who operates in that system will also benefit. They are talking about forward thinking which means, your so-called devil competitor or your next neighbor could be your supporter for the future.
Everything that helps to your industry will at the end also help your own project or company because the ecosystem will be more stable and will be growing. There is still competition but this competition is looking around the corner and tries to evolve the whole system. If you stay in the Valley on every day you will see and connect new people. In the first five minutes both sides try to find out if there is an immediate need to cooperate or if the other party could help or support the current idea or project. If they can find a common similarity they will set up a meeting in the coming days and try to work with each other. In the start-up scene no-body needs NDSs’ (non-disclosure agreement), in the first-place meetings are there to find out if there is a correlation of interest that could help both parties and how they could work together.
What can be seen currently is a move from the Silicon Valley to Asia. There again, culture is very different. For example, China is a huge market with tremendous opportunities but with a clear long-term strategy, with a need to have the right knowledge how to serve the government is crucial. Currently many venture capitalists try to set up a presence there. China has a huge potential but they do not have a culture of innovation and open entrepreneurship. At the end everything is government controlled. If Chinese companies are talking about potential client base they are talking about several hundred million users.
Nothing is comparable to Europe because the old continent is too far fragmented. To come back to the Silicon Valley mindset this will last for the next time, but the growth stories will come out of Asia with their huge potential. A second part why Asia will grow so fast is, that they have a huge population who gets wealthy but there is no infrastructure to serve them. So, on many presentation inclusiveness of everybody in the new global world will be an important part in the Asian success story. And what we see at the moment Chinese companies buy tech companies around the world. The future has to show if all the growth is also sustainable over a longer period of time.