Silicon Valley has gradually become the ultimate model for business and entrepreneurship in a digital world. "The Valley" has been and still is pretty succesful in creating and distributing its values worldwide.
A culture of learning from failure, hailing reckless hockey stick growth, and disruptive market offerings have turned business as usual upside down. Sometimes with good effects for society and business, sometimes with negative effects.
We, the Europeans- simply put: a traditionally critical and reflective bunch of people- have always had our issues with the fast-paced and technology-loving "Yankees". This mindset leaves many US American technopreneurs, lobbyists and journalists puzzled- sometimes even provoked.
One of the most quoted Europe critics is the controversial hedge fund manager/venture capitalist Peter Thiel who rumbled in an interview with the Financial Times:
"I think people in Europe are generally pessimistic about the future. They have low expectations, they're not working hard to change things. When you're a slacker with a pessimistic view of the future, you're likely to meet those expectations."
Jeff Jarvis, a self-declared "Google fanboy" aka. lobbyist by choice hysterically called out "Eurotechnopanic" several times since the end of last year. Jarvis' generalized panicmongering even made it into a German newspaper and has found eager clappers in the conservative party in Germany.
Let me try to wrap it up here. In the first months of 2015, good old Europe is struggling in multiple ways:
- Europeans have a love/hate relationship with the power of US liberalism and entrepreneurial spirit- especially all things Silicon Valley. The result: travel groups from German and European companies are going on serial pilgrimage to California.
Here is the catch: not all of them realize that cultural divides cannot be learned like, say accounting.
- We realize that Europe cannot (yet) match the United States' innovation capacity when it comes to most things digital and internet.
- Since the mid- late 2014, Europeans have been under heavy attack by US American web entrepreneurs, politicians and media. Their jangling case against Europe: the contintent is supposed to be hostile to innovation and especially resenting disruptive new technologies and services from the US.
I suspect that Europe might be way too much focused on what the US are doing. Pretty much like an amateur swimmer practising in the pool with a tritahlete. If you keep looking at those guys pacing through the water you will ultimately lose focus of your own swmming.
This is why I decided to start Beyond Silicon Valley.
Beyond Silicon Valley will be an exploration of European creativity, potential, culture and values. It is not a rant against the USA or Silicon Valley. Just to rule this out: I am generally in favour of progress, innovation and technology.
My aim is to connect with experts, thinkers & makers, entrepreneurs and- well, pretty much anyone who dares to look and act beyond the current Silicon Valley paradigms.
At the beginning though, I will talk to people who are researching what the Silicon Valley and the mythology around it actually mean in order to understand better what it exactly is and how Europe could make a difference.
Image Source: Rescued Film Project.