A Glimpse of Valley Fantasy
Piste group got a great opportunity to visit some of the most successful companies in Silicon Valley and in the world: Google, Facebook and Accenture. We saw the offices of these tech giants and got to discuss hot topics in IT — maybe even learnt a few valuable things from the people in impressive roles in these behemoths.
Our first company visit was with Google. Did you know that Google is only 18 years old? You can’t even drink beer here at that age. In that time Google has grown to be one of the most powerful companies in the world. Our host, James Morehead, welcomed us at Google Campus on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. We took a small tour around the area but eventually headed into a classroom for a presentation from the current Product Manager of Google News.
In the interesting discussion-laden lecture James told us about his career and how he ended up in Google. He told us how the company recruits people not necessarily into a specific task, but rather based on the person’s abilities and vision. We discussed Google’s mission: to organize world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, and different issues related to this, such as privacy, machine learning and self-driving cars. James stressed the importance of learning. He told us not to shy away from hard problems but to embrace them. Achieving your goal may not always be possible going in a straight line: fast failing and learning are important for personal development but they are also the way Google keeps inventing new things and staying relevant. In the IT world, even the biggest behemoths can fall fast if they fail to renew themselves, said Morehead. We took a look at the T.Rex Stan on our way out and wondered how these tech giants grew so fast.
Our second company visit was with Piste partner company Accenture. We were invited to see an Accenture Tech Lab in San Jose and got an amazing presentation from Senior Manager Ashley Miller about Accenture innovation led business in the tech labs. Tech Labs are a part of Accenture’s global operation. The Labs work closely with Accenture’s partner companies trying to find practical business applications for new products and solutions. We got to experience some of these new products first-hand and saw amazing product demos in data visualization, AR/VR, robotics and voice recognition. The Labs themselves don’t directly make money for Accenture, but their intrinsic value has been proven to be great in the last 30 years through patents, partnerships and other intangibles.
Ashley explained which five technology trends will transform the world in the next 5 years — something that sparked a lot of conversation in the room. We discussed issues that quickly developing technology might bring about and attested to that not all technological advancement is as clear cut as it may seem.
The people at Accenture were extremely hospitable and the excursion was very well prepared. Take look at this detail for example.
Finally we checked in at Facebook. Everything at Hacker Way 1, their current headquarters, was pretty impressive. The company culture can be seen everywhere from the windows to the walls. Thousands of people are working for this massive company like it was a startup. We met Markku Mäkeläinen who works as the director of global growth and operator partnerships. He showed us around the building a little bit and gave a very interesting walkthrough of Facebook’s current endeavours.
The biggest fear of Facebook is that it becomes irrelevant. Just like Google, they realize that staying agile and continuously innovating new things keep them alive. Markku showed us how Facebook keeps on attaining new users by the millions and how people at Facebook are rarely measured by the monetary value of their actions. Facebook wants their employees to do amazing things and rather forgive them than have them ask for permission before every new idea. This way they keep their ideas fresh and cultivate their innovations. They also have about a gazillion dollars to spend on even bad ideas, which isn’t bad.
Silicon Valley was real. The old giants in the tech industry, such as Accenture, keep staying on the forefront of technology by expertise and constant development. The high flying startups, like Google and Facebook once were, are brewed in the Silicon Valley ecosystem. They usually burn quickly and fail fast but sometimes stay high long enough to become relevant. The startup fantasy becomes reality and here we got to see the biggest success stories so far. Over the next few days we get to visit companies that don’t necessarily look to conquer the world, but work in other interesting fields here in the Silicon Valley.