Kiddar Tech Tours: Silicon Valley

No tech trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to the Valley, although it’s different than most people expect.

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Silicon Valley is often held up on a pedestal. When people picture it, they think of a bustling tech hub, The Social Network movie, or maybe Silicon Valley on HBO.

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In reality, it’s suburban and almost sleepy, with communities largely based around where people work. It lacks the same sort of rich, teeming nexuses that you see in big cities; it’s no wonder that west coast fundraising is so network-driven. It’s hard to understand exactly what Silicon Valley is like without actually paying a visit. It’s still a really cool place (I grew up there!) — just not what you expect.

When my analysts (David and Philipp) and I attended TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, I took them around the Valley where we made stops at iconic places along the way.

STOP 1: BUCK’S OF WOODSIDE, the Silicon Valley institution. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike have met at Buck’s to strike deals and make major decisions. Tesla once famously raised money there by parking one of its prototypes in the front lot.

It was great to see Buck’s again. The decor is quirky and comforting, and they serve the best coffee cake in the world. It’s cool to sit in a booth and know that millions of dollars have been raised at any table in the restaurant.

STOP 2: SAND HILL VC OFFICES including Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and KKR. My team was shocked that the offices of large VCs were not nearly as embellished as a lot of startup offices. Less free beer and ping-pong, more of a strip mall-and-dentist vibe.

STOP 3: THE APPLE CAMPUS AND STORE at Infinite Loop. I‘m fairly sure Philipp believes it’s the cradle of civilization. If humankind survives for another million years, it probably will be know as that.

We also saw the Apple Campus 2.0 building under construction. It’s huge, and looks like a new pyramid — all curved glass and ready to fly away to the stars.

STOP 4: THE GOOGLE CAMPUS is a bright and fun place populated with tech geniuses, colorful campus bikes, and the Google Android statue. (It updates as Google upgrades its operating system!)

I wanted to take the analysts to work campuses like Google because they’re both weird and special. (The campuses, not the analysts.) There’s something enticing about the idea that you’re living and working in a sprawl where everybody is dedicated to the same big purpose.

Cheryl Foil, Principal of Tech & Innovation at Kiddar Capital

You can follow me on Twitter @CherylFoil, and follow Kiddar Capital on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.