eBay started in 1995 in San Jose, where French-Iranian founder Pierre Omidyar had worked for Apple subsidiary Claris, and he became an instant billionaire when it went public three years later. Although it is illegal to sell live animals on the site, among the items offered have been two previously undiscovered species.
San Francisco – Been There

Silicon Valley is turning hippies into billionaires

Photo by Friedrich Stark

San Francisco – Been There Silicon Valley is turning hippies into billionaires

The Santa Clara Valley, once home to miles of orchards, is now producing a different kind of fruit – one that shapes our entire world.

Mark Harris
Mark Harris Travel Writer

No one ever accused the children of the Flower Power generation of being perfectionists but, just as their hippie philosophy has shaped the freedom of the Internet, so does San Francisco continue to shape the world around us. From computer hardware transforming our daily routines, to software companies that determine our virtual world, it reaches into every corner of modern life. The most fertile ground for these revolutionary ideas is the Santa Clara Valley, better known as Silicon Valley.  It stretches south from San Francisco airport to San Jose, a high tech city where the flagship Marriott hotel has a squadron of iPads in the lobby and even the trams sport wi-fi.

The Valley has more millionaires and billionaires per capita, and the highest average wages of anywhere in the USA – topping $100,000 for the first time in 2011. It is also home to the biggest company in the world, Apple, worth nearly half a trillion dollars; the biggest Internet company in the world, Google, processing billions of search requests a day; and the biggest ever IPO, Facebook, with its one billion users.

Wandering Palo Alto’s neat streets, it still seems little different from any other upmarket college town. Except that those ladies chatting over lattes are not soccer moms but Apple executives planning the next iPad, and that guy on his laptop is not playing World of Warcraft but putting the finishing touches to a multi-million dollar business plan. At a modest feeding hole like the Slider Bar Café on University Avenue, I pull up a seat, open my ears and tune in to conversations peppered with terms like “margin analysis” and “burn rate”. I am listening to seriously big deals being thrashed out over seriously tiny burgers.

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San Jose’s Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph is the fifth church to stand on this site, with most of the previous ones being destroyed by earthquakes. Dedicated in 1803, it was the first parish in the state of California and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Anthony Goto / Creative Commons

Anthony Goto

Anthony Goto

Canon Powershot G11

Agency
Creative Commons
Aperture
ƒ/2.8
Exposure
1/100
ISO
80
Focal
6.1 mm

San Jose’s Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph is the fifth church to stand on this site, with most of the previous ones being destroyed by earthquakes. Dedicated in 1803, it was the first parish in the state of California and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other stories about San Francisco

When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone at San Francisco’s 2007 Macworld convention he called it, with typical understatement "a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” It took $150 million to develop and Apple paid $1 million for the iphone.com domain name, but sold a million devices on its first weekend.

The Pioneering spirit that never died

What can you say about San Francisco, a city that shaped and continues to shape the world as we know it? The history of San Francisco is the promise of gold that brought settlers West, until they could go no further; the pioneering spirit has never died. The Flower Power generation, which originated here in the 1960s, shaped modern beliefs; a new generation is defining our virtual world through companies like as Apple and Facebook. In the history of San Francisco is our present: in its past, our future.