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My response to Hermione Way's post about Silicon Valley:

In the past six months I've been to Europe three separate times, plus I've been outside the valley a bunch of times too (I'm headed to Wyoming to hang out with a bunch of Israeli investors and inventors at an offsite that starts tomorrow).

Sometimes I feel the same way that Hermione feels: that innovation is gone from the place I've called home for more than 38 of my 46 years, but that feeling usually doesn't last more than an hour -- time for the next entrepreneur to open up for me.

Hey, in just the past month or so, I've gotten a look at really awesome new image display technology from Nanosys ( ) and Sea Micro's really awesome new microserver technology

These are no Groupon clones and are companies that ONLY could be built in Silicon Valley.

I look around at the real Silicon Valley and I keep seeing tons of stuff you don't read about on Techcrunch or the Next Web. For instance, take a tour around PARC like I did or SRI or IBM's New Almaden Research Center or NASA/Lockheed. My high school buddy has an experiment on the Space Shuttle. All developed here, but most of the time you don't read about that stuff when it comes to Silicon Valley. Why not?

I do travel a lot outside of the Valley. Why? Because I want to know who will be the next one to open an office in San Francisco/Silicon Valley. It is very rare that a company changes the world without opening an office here. Even Foursquare and Groupon and Baidu have offices here. Why is that? Because it's hard to do world-changing innovation elsewhere. There are certain types of engineers who live mostly in Silicon Valley. Want someone who built a 2,500-node Hadoop cluster for eBay? Here, not there. Want someone who understands Silicon? Maybe designed such for Intel or Apple? Here, not there. Want someone who has managed a company from 50 people to 25,000. Here, not there.

Hermione did nail that the financiers are here, too. Certainly the good ones. But if you think Steve Jurvetson or Vinod Khosla or Cynthia Ringo aren't reaching for the sky you haven't been around them.

Don't know who Cynthia is? Yeah, that's cause she doesn't hang out with Hermione Way, either (which is a shame, cause she is owner of one of the only female-owned VC firms in the world -- another Silicon Valley innovation, it seems). Check her bio: and what she and her VC firm is investing in. A crapload of clean tech and healthcare companies, along with Pandora and Livescribe. Go ahead and read the list.

Tell me she's not changing the world.

Or, visit Kevin Surace. He's not changing the world? Really? His Serious Materials just put new windows on the Empire State Building. Saves them TONS of money and saves TONS of energy, which could save my son's generation some of the climate problems it looks like they are headed for.

Or visit Khosla Ventures. Go ahead. You won't read about most of those companies in the Next Web or Techcrunch. Why not? Too world-changing. Heck, even I haven't covered most of them and my life goal is to find world-changing technologies.

I don't meet companies like these in Europe and when I do, like at the World Economic Forum, they invariably are NOT from Europe, but from either USA, China, or Israel (most of the time USA). Not to mention, Europe hasn't yet given birth to a Facebook. A Google. A Yahoo. A Genentec. A VMware. An Apple. A Cisco. An Intel. An AMD. And I could go on.

But I'll be headed out of the Valley again in the morning. Why? Someday the rest of the world will figure it all out and I want to be there too. I wonder why Hermione is hanging out with the over-covered Y Combinator and not hanging out with Cynthia Ringo or Vinod Khosla. If she did she might have a much different idea of what is happening in innovation in Silicon Valley.
As a Brit who gave up cheerleading the European tech scene to make the pilgrimage to Silicon Valley to live, eat and breath the world's leading hub for technology startup innovation, ...
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Interesting for her to say that. I wonder how is Europe's tech scene compared to Silicone Valley? Even better or worst?
+Robert Scoble no need to get defensive. The title is sensationalist but there is a lot of truth in the article.

Having said that I'm 100% with you that on avg outside of SV things are much less impressive
I have two main comments - I was going to write a post but will put them here...
1. it sure seems like all she did was stay with the same YC crew - their offices, their parties, etc. There's a lot more out there in SF/SV (and everywhere else) than just the "incubator crew".
2. she talks a lot about clones - but wouldn't (please don't kill me Zee!) that TNW and every tech blog (including mine) that came after the first one (whoever that was) would be considered a clone?
Great post Scoble! Tech is more than just consumer-based web apps. There's some real innovation if you know where to look.
You hit the nail on the head Robert - +1
So proud of Israel :)
US is still the largest country when it comes to prosperity. 300 million people with a GDP per capita of 50K is huge opportunity for innovation to thrive. Plus the software industry originated in US, so it is no surprise that silicon valley can churn out new and innovative products. There is a market for it. Plus people in US are prolific spenders, because I guess they trust the government to take care of them in old age. It might change in future though if social security etc weakens.
Come to Cleveland - its the real America - with real problems to solve - like JOBS! That seems to get lost on the entire tech industry - what its like to be poor and out of work. That's why I left.

To get a clue how the rest of the world lives. Where there's no VCs to fund shit,
That's true, but to +Hermione Way 's credit, it seems like the complaint is that the consumer-based apps is the space with the most hype/noise. Think of Techcrunch and TheNextWeb as the People and US Magazines of the tech world-- not a lot of substance. To me it's not a geographical question, more of a question of what gets the most attention.
Her views are completely off track. This article comes off as whiny and biased. I know people who have put in a lot of time and effort running their startups and they have succeeded even on a small level. A friend of mine runs Zivity which is pretty successful in its own niche. As much as I really dont like them, Techcrunch can point out some great contenders she probably overlooked as well.
Robert, I totally agree with all your points.

What needs to be taken into consideration is that you have access to innovators, technology and trends that even the most seasoned tech bloggers don't have access to, and that is why we dig you.

If you write daily for a tech blog you do your own research, get handed profiles from PR firms, and get contacted by application developers and the like. (For full disclosure, I have contributed articles for The Next Web).

Not to disagree with you Robert, but what I gleaned from her article was that there seems to be a copy machine of start ups, and not that the Bay Area is not a true source of innovation.

This happens in the music industry (let's find the next Beiber, or the next Gaga) and in the movie industry as well. The article mentioned Groupon wannabes for example. VCs will tend to fund projects that have a model that reflects some notion of monetization.

Now I could be completely off base but I do believe their is some redundancy in the start up world and if you listen to enough elevator speeches, they can start to blend.
I hope this post provokes the response from European innovators that it deserves. Come to Silicon Fen here in Cambridge and you will see technology that rivals that in the valley, and on a fraction of the budget. And I am sure that all around Europe there are similar pockets of innovation.

You really should not base your view of an entire diverse continent on what you see in airports, hotels and a few trade shows.
After touring Silicon Valley for 2 months myself, I tended to meet with more ideas than not that weren't innovative, compelling or disruptive. Then again, I'm not you Scoble - so I don't have the same access. :-) (and yes I also went to Parc- very cool and thanks Dave Peck). To +Hermione Way credit, though, I agree there's a lot of "me too" startups getting tons of attention and funding these days (hello, Color?) and not much to show for it. But to your point, for every company that isn't innovative, there's probably at least one that is.
Robert, that's fair enough. The most anyone can argue is to give these non-SV startups a chance. Then let the users decide :) (As was/is the case with Color/Path)
I'm location agnostic (and have lived in San Jose years ago), and understand the advantages of being in Silicon Valley, but I'm not sure those in SV understand the advantages of NOT being in SV. For starters, it's a lot tougher to fly under the radar in Silicon Valley than it is in, say, Utah Valley. And for some startups, you need to fly under the radar while your world-changing technology / site is being developed and tested and refined in an iterative process without the pressures of publicity, the "go big fast or die" mentality, competing with others for the attention, and getting consumed with seeking the funding uniquely necessary to succeed in SV. Plus, it's easier to bootstrap when your people can live where they are and don't need to relocate to one of the most expensive (money & time) places to live and commute you're going to find. With the communications and collaboration tools you have today, you can find talent anywhere, and you don't all need to be in the same place. After you launch and want the visibility, you can always open an office out there to take advantage of its numerous benefits. But I think there are serious advantages to AVOIDING SV and its groupthink for as long as practical.
My point to all....until you can you understand or recognize a do'er?
Agreed. But maybe there's an influx of these less innovative companies in the Valley due to the financing available? I think that's the point +Hermione Way made on Twitter.
Talk the talk, walk the walk. Passion is subjective, execution is NOT.
This East Coast/West Coast LA/SF thing is laughable. Get over it. Smart people and hard workers flock together.
Nokia did pretty well for a while. So did SAP , and group did pretty interesting things in Russia where everybody else failed. I think the list of EU success companies is not as short as it looks to us from US. 
+Robert Scoble I read and shared Hermione's story a few hours ago. Glad to see your response here. It's your best G+ post yet. I'm just learning the history of the "the place" and haven't even scratched the surface of what you're uncovering here. I hope to now that I have the free time these days :) It also tells me more about you then I knew.
+Robert Scoble I agree that the scale is not comparable, but you cannot expect the whole of Europe's technology community to congregate in one place the same way that it has in the US.

Europe cannot be thought of as a single entity in the same way that the US is (except in the context of the Ryder Cup). We are a collection of independent states all with our own languages and cultures.
Nobody has yet mentioned that she had to list a number of companies she had to admit were innovative while not being able to come up with one example of a better mousetrap that the rest of the world is creating.

And the fact every country in the world is funding new would be Silicon Valley's almost guarantees none of them will be able to get the traction to challenge the original. Granted the tech industry will expand and multiply, but those dozens - or hundreds of hub will also become farm clubs for the big leagues.
Maybe the real issue is that when Silicon Valley has a lot of hungry investors around, it becomes easier to obtain money for ideas that are more alike other ideas. You need friction to innovate, and friction is slowly eroding at Silicon Valley. Things are too smooth there now.
Robert, I agree with you, I am owner of an European Company and even if the WWW was invented here, still European don't know what investment + risk are. They are too much cautious and loose lot of chances, that is why I am looking for an American investor right now (one of my partner is half-american).
Ok, obviously there are SOME innovations that come from outside the Valley (no need to point that out people) !! The thing is for better or worse there is a HUGE number of companies that move over to SV or SF because that's a place where they can aquire the resources and knowledge necessary to evolve and innovate into the company they want to be. Having an idea is not enough to make a good startup
I'm glad that I took the time to watch Steve Blank's Secret History of Silicon Valley so that I know that there's a lot more to the Valley than gobs of money and social media "shiny object syndrome" Thanks for reminding me of all of the brilliant underpinnings of the Bay Area!
What's going on here is what my friend Ryan Hildebrand calls "Mental Masturbation". Seacrest out!
Thanks, Robert - but I'm not going to be a dope and argue that SV isn't the center of the technology universe. My point is simply that it's blind prejudice to believe that without the benefits of being in SV, no company can succeed. I don't read that into what you're saying, but there are a lot of people that think that way, to their own harm and to the harm of those innovative companies that are truly thinking outside the box, or Valley in this case.
BTW, I was at the Kynetx dinner. Enjoyed your discussion with Doc Searles. FYI, Craig Burton is on our BoA.
Lol! Trying to figure out if that's a slam on me because I didn't introduce myself at the dinner (we don't call them cocktail parties in Utah :-).
Robert, US investors always ask if we will move to the US. I always tell them that we will keep our engineering team away from the US, it is already too crowded there and in Europe (Appsterdam :-) ) we can still get our hands on devs. Business dev and sales does need to be in the US though. All your customers are in the Silicon Valley area (and a few other hot spots)
Scoble, you're totally missing my point. You're absolutely right there are some of the world's most innovative startups in Silicon Valley, but the problem is there could be lots more if the focus of entrepreneurship here wasn't about getting an exit as quickly as possible.
Entrepreneurship has become productized as accelerators like Y Combinator and Techstars try to marginalize and manufacture an industry that is inherently risky. I have seen some incredible technology including Halcyon-a DNA sequencing company and Lytro the light field camera technology, but for every one of these game changing technologies, there are hundreds of Groupon clones or iPhone apps where entrepreneurs are just out to make a quick buck in the short term instead of thinking about the long term game.

Silicon Valley attracts some of the world's most talented, well-educated individuals who need to be building technology that's disruptive and game-changing, not wasting their talent on building an app to find their nearest chocolate sprinkled latte.
The majority of coverage of start-ups, tech companies and the various investments made in them seem to show a focus on trivial consumer centric get rich quick schemes. The biggest and most successful companies in this bubble generally have little to no profit, pie in the sky projections, and seemingly doomed futures. The bubble will burst one day soon. I would like to see a return to investments in software and systems that help people work better, do more with less, etc. That isn't sexy though.
Isn't every company unique in its development, marketing, partnering, capital, and technology needs? Somehow, I just don't buy that SV is a one-place-fits-all solution. Most, yes. All, no. That seems to be what most everyone is saying, though, just in different ways.
+10 Scoble. I get tired of hearing people who complain about a lack of innovation...reminds me of the type of people that complain when there aren't enough fun people at a party.

If you rely on the TMZs of Silicon Valley to learn about it, then yeah, it seems like a bunch of games and web apps...but like you said, if you have the appetite to dig into the less sexy opportunities (water desalination, payments processing, scalable databases, etc), there are more than enough hard challenges to chew on...

Sure, lots of kids are launching silly games. But do we really want 21 year olds out trying to build centi-million dollar companies? No, most kids need to get started somewhere to learn the ropes as an entrepreneur. Ball players don't try to hit Cliff Lee - they start out hitting off a tee. Those same kids who raise 40k to build an iPhone app learn valuable lessons so that the next time around, they can take a bigger swing. And next time, they'll have enough $ in the bank to absorb the risk that it takes to dream big.

And of all things...he's knocks YC? The without-any-doubt top incubator in Northern California? One of Paul Graham's core mantras to his teams is to think big...and their portfolio is littered with interesting companies that are working to change the way we communicate, travel, store, save, etc.

Has he visited the materials science or web security or nano technology programs at Stanford and Berkeley? Or is he riffing about what he reads on TechCrunch?

Common' Hermione - if you want kids to start tough companies - then you write tough articles. Don't headline grab about the world's hottest incubator & complain about kids trying to de-risk their high-risk pursuits.
+Hermione Way What you just said was a fair point, and was missing in your post. Big time. HOWEVER, you painted a broad and unfair generalization. Expand those horizons! Takes some time!!!
Just like that: it is not that a company can't be successful outside of SV or SF, but being a startup isn't easy here or Europe. When companies come to the US they look for whatever extra is needed to get them into solid, innovative, recognition worthy ground. It is not that this can't happen anywhere else, but like Scoble said, there's a heat wave of innovation down there that can possibly and ultimately give startups the push they need to be one of the next best things
thanks Robert for the post. I think one problem is most of the famous blogs, sites which cover startups and entrepreneurship ecosystems just write about IT, web and mobile startups. In my opinion, we have lack of propaganda/ articles about other industries which are doing great such as clean tech, Biotech, Health and medicine, Robotics, etc... also most of well known twitter folks, bloggers, journalists only stick to web and mobile start-ups coverage as well. lets bold other world changing industries.
Also? Don't like the innovation you see? Then INNOVATE!
You should check out SIlicon Cape (Cape Town) :)
Cameron, it's not only not sexy, it's infinitely more difficult to get traffic on the web if you're only marginally better at doing what the innovator already does well enough. You have to give people a lot of good reasons to adopt your software and systems if you're going to have any hope of breaking through the noise, with customers, investors, and potential business partners and employees. Investors want to fund defensible Blue Ocean startups, not one more Red Ocean competitor.
Of course it is impossible to have ALL of the companies in SV be completely innovative and game-changing (sorry for the marketing term). That's true of any industry anywhere.

Look, it is not great to have a bunch of Groupon clones "wasting" the everybody's time, but the thing is, great ideas and great companies eventually come from all these small and apparently worthless companies. That happens everywhere, it just might be more apparent in a place like SV for these particular industries 
+Robert Scoble Thanks for the offer.. sent you a PM. To cut +Hermione Way some slack, I shared her link earlier tonight (and before reading Robert's post), and here was what I said about it: "The problem with the Silicon Valley, says Hermione Way, is that everyone's too focused on money. A deeper look at this statement, and worth the read. I know for my own part, all my "business success" has come because I was just doing what I thought was fun. The money just came" (my original post: Sounds like I got her meaning... Robert your passion is so deep on this issue that you might have read it through Scoblevizion :-) Just tryin to bridge the gap here a little :) (slaps back) (offers a beer) In any case, even if the signals were crossed, I learned from her story and your response. Knowledge comes through happy accidents sometimes :)
+Hermione Way I thought your points were excellent, Hermione. I'm not sure why the SV crowd didn't see what you're saying. I especially like that you pointed to those investors who are breaking out of the herd mentality...
Scoble did you even read the post fully? I acknowledged some good innovation, especially around health-care startups. My argument is not Europe versus the Valley either. My argument is that innovation in Silicon Valley should be around disrupting industries and solving real-world problems and at the moment we are in a bubble where entrepreneurs have a gold-rush mentality, trying to make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time. This is is not sustainable.
Know what, hey +Robert Scoble and +Hermione Way , drop on by the Satisfactory (2nd/Harrison), the happiest place in SF and we'll chat it out in a Hangout, no?
And to all the "OMG, I had to move to Silicon Valley for people to get me" folks- you really need a vacation. :-) As Scoble points out, innovation is happening across the globe. And it's much harder to NOT be in the middle of it in Silicon Valley and make things happen - trust me, I've been doing it for 15 years. +Drew Olanoff on this one!
hey if you try to disrupt industries in US, you get sued by everybody, just ask Google lol
Brit here! To be honest I think she has a point, however the UK scene is exactly the far as lack of innovation and lack of new technology. Fracking clones are everywhere. Innovation I find is lacking all over.....
I'll just disagree with the article because I think we've got a good shot and a good team working to get the Startup Visa passed this year, before the Presidential election cycle effectively shuts down Congress in January 2012. There's a lot going on in the background of collecting information to make the best possible pitch to specific, individual Representatives and Senators, but we're getting some good signals. Alternatively, if we don't pass the Startup Visa by January 2012, we're waiting until January 2014 at the earliest to get it passed, and that is no good.
OMG folks, WHY SO SERIOUS? Go have a cookie.
+Benjamin Wong Ich would say it's mostly different ;)
Different culture, different tech-scene.

Look at Germany for example: Only a few famous brands, but a lot of world leaders in their niche.
Go have a cookie, Drew? Wasn't that the point that Hermoine was making - that too many bright minds are wasting their talent finding new ways to find cookies (or muffins or latte or whatever)? JK. Good point.
Geek drama, love it.

Hermione has spent just six months in SV. Robert is taking it personally that she would criticize the place after spending what he perceives as not enough time to to get it. Both y'all need to relax.
In France, for (European) example, they work far less working hours per week and far less days a year, eat better food, travel on fastest trains built by government, have universal healthcare and strong social system. That counts for something too. Basically, what I am trying to say, is that Silicon Valley is in USA so it is great for business, Europe is focused more on living standards, so France is great for that and not for business.
Follow the money. Entrepreneurs will discover and supply whatever gets funded. So if investors dole out cash to entrepreneurs who can do a good pitch on how their company will create new markets by doing x better than company y, then you'll get startups seeking to do x better than company y. The more innovative the idea and the more brilliant the vision, the tougher it is for most investors to see it. What they GET is that they just missed out on the last innovation and brilliant vision, so they have to find the MySpace that killed Friendster and then the Facebook that will kill MySpace...

Understand that it's all a Type A, extremely competitive herd mentality and you understand 90% of the disfunction in Silicon Valley; but you also understand 90% of what works in Silicon Valley. It's like the Galápagos Islands were to Darwin - you get a lot of variety of a lot of species, with the strong being the ones that survive and thrive.
Hermione wrote: "One of the reasons for lack of innovation in the Valley is that entrepreneurs are not exposed to enough real-world problems"

This is simply wrong. A huge number of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are immigrants from countries with poverty problems far greater than any seen in the US.

There's a greater awareness of third world problems in Silicon Valley than in other places I've lived in the US, and people here tend to live more modest lifestyles than you'd expect given their incomes.
Yeah, it's not that I don't agree with you, Hermione, but I think that's a real surface level assessment of the Valley tech scene. There's a lot of stuff going on here that's quietly game changing, and there's a lot of companies that are primarily out to build something awesome, not exit quick and exit big and become cash money millionaires.

Y Combinator is sort of its own beast, it was founded by consumer internet folks with a in an investment environment very favorable to consumer internet companies. You can't really blame them for turning out a lot of companies like that, and you also can't really generalize that to the Valley as a whole. Hell, even if you are, there's a very innovative and potentially game changing company with nothing to do with the consumer internet that shares a building with them: Anybots.
+Heather Meeker And that's exactly my point -innovation is happening globally -I interviewed a guy the other day about the Tanzanian tech scene who was telling about a mobile CRM built for managing Malaria drugs -entrepreneurs in emerging markets are solving local problems which tend to be life changing and driving society forward, in the Valley often problems are trivial and the problems being solved here are not ground breaking, but rather all about the money.
Being an American and being based here (after various stints in the Valley) I can honestly say I see both sides. The problem with London specifically it that it is a huge kludge of America. Advertising? Government? Defense? Entertainment? All of these call London home. You go to the Valley to work in tech/biotech, but in London there is a lot of competition for both investment and talent.

But the biggest problem is the lack of real Angel and early stage funding. For every Sherry Coutu or Stefan Glaenzer, the Valley has 10-20x more. And why is that? The Valley has more exits, and each exit potentially creates 2-3 new angels. We have had very few exits in London/Europe in comparison to the Valley. This lack of capital creates a vacuum-effect so the few startups that do get off the ground, are forced to pivot several times just to get funding, and those pivots force the company to be less innovative and more "me too" just to get a check.

That does mean that we are in fact less innovative than the Valley, but it doesn't mean we have less capability to be disruptive. But it's going to take more exits and more capital before we can ever dream of having this conversation.
Sarah Lacy just finished her book about entrepreneurship outside of Silicon Valley where through adversity and turmoil entrepreneurs and building incredible technology -you should read it.
There are lotsa great reasons why Silicon Valley and ~Wadi are where they are, dominating nasdaq. Most of them culturally, not economically or financially developed. Therefore extremely hard to copy. Great books on this are plentiful, eg Google for 'high-tech cluster formation' or 'start-up nation'. Europe is booming with location tech innovations though. Let me know if you want to meet them :)
Interesting discussion. One gripe: we (TechCrunch that is) supposedly don't cover some startups because they're "too world-changing"? Uhhhm?
Who said that? TC and TNW cover a ton of great startups. +Mike Butcher is one of the bigger cheerleaders of the London tech scene there is...
+Drew Olanoff, +Robert Scoble and everyone else. Even though this whole comment stream is EXTREMELY entertaining, why can't we all just call a spade, a spade? To me, the original article wreaked of linkbait.
I went outside once. I didn't like it.
"You won't read about most of those companies in the Next Web or Techcrunch. Why not? Too world-changing. Heck, even I haven't covered most of them and my life goal is to find world-changing technologies."

Why don't we read about them?

1. Tech blogs cater to consumers who are naturally curious about apps or things that affect them personally. The readership for the long tail, B2B/industrial/commercial-centered technologies that I suspect are the true game-changers seems much smaller. 2. Even if a publication wanted to focus on the amazing things going on in clean tech or healthcare, writing about those game-changers might be more involved than rewriting press releases and getting a quick quote. The reporting required to understand the sophisticated innovations underway, while being able to write about them for general audiences, is more expensive than most news organizations are willing to pay. A lot of these problems are problems with the media in general (how to stay profitable when good content is expensive, and no one will pay for the product), rather than Valley-specific.
3. Much of +Hermione Way's complaint seems to boil down to the idea that people should not be driven by money, but by the potential to do good things. If anyone can solve that, please go for it.
"Tell me she's not changing the world."

Ok, i'll give it a shot :)

Venture Capitalists don't change the world. They enable other people to change the world. There's a difference.
Fascinating discussion, the first useful thing that i read on G+
I wonder about the influence of SV beyond the innovation- is SV a king maker? If you want a successful innovative web-based/ software company, do you need to court the SV twitterati and Techcrunchers like former Prime Ministers had to court Rupert Murdoch? (beware of comparisons to him!) +Robert Scoble does sound a bit isolationist in the original post, to me- although he says he is interested in innovation wherever it is from, the post is a bit defensive in stance when it doesn't need to be. SV has nothing to prove, but this sort of attitude can be damaging to companies outside of SV as many important commentators should be open to innovation and blind to its heritage, rather than herding. Isn't the whole point of the web that it gives everyone with an internet connection a chance? Some great posts in this thread, though.
I have never been to Silicon Valley so I can't tell you any thing about that.
Good for the patriotisme! Don't let an english woman badmouth your place ;)

But let me help you with some European names of big companies that you seem to have misplaced:
ASML (Dutch)
Philips (Dutch)
TomTom (Dutch)
Kazaa (base p2p for Skype) (Dutch/ Estonia)
Skype (Estonia)
Wikitude (Austria)
Layar (Dutch)
Junaio (Germany)
SoundCloud (Germany)
Spotify (Sweden)
NXP Semiconductors (NFC leaders) (Dutch) ex-Philips
Jaiku (Finland) +Jyri Engeström company
acquired by Google. +Jyri Engeström could be ad the base of Google social dev (we will never know). His talk in video MoMo #1 - Jyri Engestrom (Jaiku)
Blocket (Sweden) this model gives eBay a run for its money all over the world -North-America Owner (Norway) (Dutch) Bought by eBay to be the core of there classifieds strategy. First as in (see for example) now as
Q-layer (Belgium) bought by Sun
eBuddy (Dutch)
Guerrilla Games (Dutch) Sony Owned now Killzone series

Some of my fellow dutch entrepreneurs that have fleet to Silicon Valley: +Dirk de Kok +Ronald Mannak
Good luck guys!

There also is a Dutch initiative for App-city Amsterdam, check it out.

Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with these companies, and don't speak for them.
And yes I am Dutch ;)
cc: +Hermione Way +Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten +Patrick de Laive
As for the sideline captured well by +Karla Starr about b2b and industrial engineering etc, as someone who works with engineering and technical media on a daily basis i would agree that a lot of the innovation takes more explaining and touches fewer people's daily life- there are fewer entry points for the average non-engineer to grab hold of. With a smaller, more specialised, audience than the Techcrunchers of the world, the media outlets are also less well known. However, their readerships are highly influential when it comes to buying/ implementing the technology. A couple of great UK outlets for this stuff are: (the hard copy of which has been around since 1856) and . These are well worth a look!
Very good answer, Robert. I often feel as if I am reading from two different Bibles when I read your blog or read TechCrunch, same gospel but such different translations and whole passages missing from some editions.
+Robert Scoble thanks for the reply. How blind to heritage are SV's technology commentators and influencers do you think? How should companies from outside approach it- do they have to make a success of their 'home' market before they are taken seriously in SV (and then move there!) and will that help? If a company is already successful away from SV will SV influencers still consider it exciting and 'bleeding edge'?
There are also plenty of cultural and personal assumptions at play when deeming one startup more innovative than another. Just because people in Silicon Valley don't think of them as game-changers doesn't mean that they aren't problem-solvers for the people who created them. But because of the US-centric structure of financing, it's a lot harder, if not impossible, for other startups to get true traction unless VCs take the bait... the ideal audience for a startup being the US or Europe. Having customers pay in £ is much sexier than customers who pay in pesos.
I couldn't agree more with you Robert. In 2004 i've been starting to work on a small low tdp mini-pc, similar to the MacMini (which got released a year later). We've had our own embedded Linux system for it, it sported 2x120GB 2.5" hdd in a RAID 1 with on the fly 128bit AES encryption and the TDP was around 25W (at a time most desktop pcs draw some 250W). It was new, it could have saved a lot of energy and it was cheap. Guess what all the banks told me when i just applied for a 25000 Euro EU founder credit? Computers? Get the hell outta here!

In 2006 i found investors in the states and i started to build tablets for vertical markets.. Police, Hospitals, Oil Platforms and in the next 2.5 years i really learned more about running a startup and about doing business than for all of my life. Networking in the states was just amazing and you know what the best thing was? I didn't have to explain everything over and over again. The amount of people really understanding what you are talking about when it comes to IT is multiplied with at least 100 compared to Europe.

Berlin, Paris, London? Bubbles! 90% of the entrepeneurs are living in their own little microsphere and they keep enjoying it. Stylish parties, tons of guys wearing fancy red scarves and the newest gucci boots and just talking about themselves but actually never about technology. I've been to way too many of these "look at me" parties and it feels like being back into the Berlin startup bubble of 1999/2000 again. Weird and boring!

Now i am living in Taiwan for 2.5 years and i am meeting a lot of motivated and young developers. Asia is starting to build up momentum, they only need some guidance, they need feedback and a bunch of people sharing their experiences with them. The taiwanese startup-scene is just starting to realize it's huge potential because these guys are based next to the biggest ODM's in the world.

Living in the US and working for a startup was a great experience, actually it was the best college i could imagine.

And even though that i know that we will still build the most amazing cars for the next decades (and of course we do have the best beer in the world ;) ), i am sure that we won't see a new facebook, foursquare, twitter or whatever coming from Germany! Believe me, we won't even see one from London or Paris.

That's a fact and it's sad but i think the european startup scene needs a reality check and finally start some self reflection.
Seriously folks, who else feels that more than a few of the comments on this post should have been posts of their own? What features are missing that would have made that a more obvious course of action?

Comment fragmentation, better "link-back" metrics? 
Does California's economic situation and the weaker dollar in general play a roll? Does innovation follow money or money follow innovation? Chicken or the egg?
California dominating the list of most-followed Google+ users says volumes... about who uses Google+ and what they're interested in, nothing more. 
Foursquare and Groupon and Baidu are not changing the world.
I think that +Hermione Way has a very good point that was maybe missed by those who love the valley and felt personally attacked from the article - maybe right from the title. +Robert Scoble cites google as one example of a company that when starting up didn't look so sexy, and might have been overlooked by someone looking for real innovation at that time; but the point maybe is this: Would google have ever happened if its investors only cared about a quick exit strategy? Would it have had time to develop its maybe most disruptive and game-changing technology of them all, adwords?

As for all those innovative companies that open their offices in the valley, I wonder how much that has to do with the visibility (to investors and the media) that that gives. Trying to get attention without being validated by in the SV isn't easy.
Something told me you were the type who would hang out with israeli scum. Now I have an admission. 
Friendly edit? Foursquare and Groupon are changing very, very small pockets of the world, but are unknown, and inconsequential to, billions. 
Groupon might offer consumers some good deals, but do the merchants benefit? I've read Many stores of merchants losing their shirts on offered deals.
Wow, bigotry much? Israel has been ahead of the game in tech for years. No surprise, the whole nation was basically a start-up. It's in their DNA. 
GImme a break: Skype, Fon, http:// < all from EU
The problem is surely that inevitably, like the general News on TV and in most tabloids, is skewed to easily consumed, often banal, content. The masses are selfish and they don't care about new window material technology for the Empire State Building, they care about Big Mac $1 Burgers, Foursquare checkins, saving 50% via Groupon on their next t-bone steak and THEMSELVES (see Facebook, Google, Flickr).

This is way Techcrunch doesn't shout about the other technologies and instead you get 3 posts a week for 9 months straight about a company like Foursquare. Good for them -gaming the system and MG all in one go ;-)

Of course, I'm simplifying the argument, but one has to, to make a salient point. These publishers publish that stuff because people consume it. They don't care about a new silicon chip design, even if it does save their lives or save them money. It's too abstract for most people.

So, in essence I agree with you Robert that the depth of innovation is SV is astounding; however you are wrong to say world changing technologies don't come from elsewhere. That ARM processor in nearly every phone you've touched in the last 2 years? That's from Cambridge ENGLAND. The hyperlink infact, invented by a guy at BT, in England. In fact, the computer? England. The jet engine? England. OK you see where this is going...

The problem if anything with the UK and Europe is we're not so good at scaling. Sure the financial industry seems to do it just fine, rape and pilleging it's way to the top of the global industry (albeit on fake premises and money making schemes with flawed longevity) but taking good technologies and funding them, growing them, to become global players seems to be something, in the UK anyway, we're becoming worse than better at.

For me, THAT is the big question. It is not for lack of innovation, it is why does our innovation not scale rapidly to become the global market leader.
+Robert Scoble What I didn't like early on were Groupon's people allowing new merchants to create very bad deals for themselves because they didn't understand how the system worked. Groupon made money and there were plenty of merchants that lose shirts in my state. Even if it was the merchants fault in the end for not reading the fine print, asking the right questions, etc, IMO it was on Groupon to hand hold and build a long term relationship. Maybe things have changed for the better, I hope so. I stopped using Groupon after seeing a bunch of my local merchants report horror stories of big losses. If it really has changed I'll be happy to use again.
I guess I disagree with your definition of changing the world. I agree Groupon is changing some people's buying habits (I just used it to get a gym membership!) and Foursquare is changing the way some people understand what is around them, but I wouldn't consider that "world changing". I think it is a big term that should be used for real game changers like when the iPhone came out, or the Khan Academy idea of flipping the classroom (sorry I'm an educator here), or more recently Quora. Just my opinion :)
Interesting discussion.

In areas outside of IT, innovation certainly happens elsewhere, witness my field: ophthalmic medtech amd pharma. You have quite a bit emerging continuously from Germany, from the UK, Israel, Australia, Japan, some from Italy, Brazil, and soon, China. In the States, it's mostly about Orange County, Texas, and metro Boston.

Perhaps not a sector that makes the same splash as an iPhone, but one which can prove extremely high tech and life changing.

Now, the valuations never soar to the exaggerated heights of a Living Social, but ....
Sure Pharma has high valuations, and exaggerated market caps! Thats why the big sell offs when things don't go right. They're putting all their pills in one bottle! Why else would you spend more in marketing than in R&D? Especially where customer acquisition costs are untraceable! No In fact, big Pharma has gamefied the system pretty good where innovation usually doesn't happen. Foreign companies have learned and are continuing to carry the torch. This space needs a massive SV style of overhaul.

"Is Big Pharma Stifling Innovation?"

"Some would argue that "big pharma" and "entrepreneurship" are mutually exclusive concepts. Among them is Tomasz Sablinski. "If you want to introduce disruptive [technology], you have to go out on your own," he says, with several decades of big-pharma, big-CRO and clinical experience behind him. "You can't do it from within."
Sounds like you all need a group hug, it would be like patients in a burns unit.
Maybe when it comes to internet! Pharmacy (Roche Group which also owns Genentech), Car industry VW (Group), Rolex, Swatch etc., Clothes (Dior, Louis Vitton, D&G), SAP, (Let's not start with financial stuff), Lufthansa, Virgin ( Sir Richard Brandson is english!!) Part of Google ( Sergey Brin is russian) I just saw you where talking about the World Economic forum which was founded in Switzerland... These are just a few examples. BTW Worlds most innovative Country this year is Switzerland (Europe) USA follows on rank 7 ... You americans are amazing but don't get to arrogant!
Without doubt the rate of innovation in Silicon Valley is higher than other places, but the point Hermione was making is that proportionally compared to the wealth of investment and talent that is in the Valley that she feels it should be doing even more! I don't know whether Hermione is correct, but she certainly makes some good arguments. And if you are a tech entrepreneur and want to make it big, you should go the valley as it is easier to succeed there, just as it is easier to succeed in the UK than it is in the rest of Europe. What is interesting about Europe right now is that there is a new wave of innovation happening. There has been a resurgence of incubators and seed funds, the cost of getting started is lower than ever with the emergence of the cloud, and the first generation of internet tech entrepreneurs in Europe are now investing back both their money and their time. European outfits like Seedcamp, HackFwd, Ignite100, Gamma Rebels and more will ... hopefully ... deliver many more revolutionary technology companies.
I think it is difficult to rationally dispute that Silicon Valley continues to be a major capital of innovation. But as you say, +Robert Scoble, the "rest" of the world will figure it out someday. In fact, places are already doing just that.

I'm heading up to Toronto next weekend for a strategy retreat with a new mobile-based, AR startup. There is a lot of tech startup activity in and around the Toronto area.

Furthermore, I'm located in the Midwest, in South Bend, IN because the region is investing (via tax bonds, government grants, private capital, etc.) more than $100M into turning the area into a nanotechnology innovation center.

In 2008, the Semiconductor Research Corporation -- a consortium of all the major chip manufactures and leading research universities -- selected to fund the University of Notre Dame (in South Bend) through its Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) to become one of only four NRI research centers in the country.

The goal of each of the four NRI centers is to discover the next-generation technology that will replace the complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) transistor as a logic switch. With the limits of Moore’s Law most likely being reached in the next 10 - 15 years, a replacement to current silicon-based chips is essential.

As one of the contenders to silicon’s replacement is some type of graphene-based solution, I call this part of the Midwest tech corridor Graphene Prairie. Graphene Prairie will become a #startup hotbed for clean-energy technology and the creation of next generation computer and medical hardware.

But there is a ways to go before the spirit and invested energies in this region begin to show results in real-world products and solutions. There are yet only a few companies targeting this area to launch their startups. However, the region is well aware that its future relies on becoming an innovation leader.

This is why I am located here. I believe it will be the place where bold and innovative ideas in the nanotech-chip architecture space create game-changing technologies in the not too distant future. I’m already planning my next startup after I leave my current one. It will not be an Internet-focused startup. Instead, it will be in nanotech, possibly leveraging some of the research that comes out of the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND) at the Univ. of Notre Dame.

Silicon Valley watch out! Graphene Prairie is about to bloom!

Select links:


Notre Dame’s MIND:
Loved reading all these posts. Even if 99% of the startups are about money it just takes one great one to change the world!
Robert, the comments and interaction here are much better than at your blog. Maybe +Kevin Rose and +Bill Gross are right about Google+ having the potential to be the best blogging platform.
Hermione is obviously in the wrong part of the bay area. I hosted a few different startup overnighters with people trying to link augmented reality for games in the real world.....

No Groupon clones .... and that is a bad thing why?
mr kita just produced the first spam link that i have seen in Google+. you go down in history as an official douche bag!
both right, for different reasons. SFr town <> Silicon Valley. YC (and similar) <> 'deep tech research centres'.
most startups <> valuable or sustainable companies. most exits are 'manufactured' and do not create value.

I could go on, but there is a crying need for entrepreneurs to 'get serious' around the world, before the whole lot falls over in a heap; whether that be health, environment, finance, debt, food, water, or whatever, we need to find ways to focus our best minds and best managers on serious issues. And money alone is just not delivering that for us.
Antone: All true for startups but maybe not big companies. One Calif. CEO was quoted saying you'd have to be crazy to open a new facility in California.(Of course that might have been TJ Rogers at Cypress Semi who is just a teensy bit libertarian! )
Robert - Your last sentence says it all.

Hermione - if you are looking for people who are changing the world why didn't you interview Kevin Jones from SOCAP or Vinod Khosla? Why are you writing about Y Combinator and not Investors' Circle or Inner City Advisors?

One could argue that you are a "me too" journalist, chasing the rant du jour -- Silicon Valley. If you do a basic Google search on the term 'impact investing' you'll find what you claim to be looking for. Silicon Valley is the leader in the sector and Boston is a close second.
I've heard that real-estate prices are one of the big problems. Too expensive to attract poorer lean and hungry innovators
As the founder of a firm dedicated to helping women led and socially innovative companies position and scale properly, I definitely want to learn more about DBL/Cynthia but the site is lacking and there's no feed... Any thoughts on how I can find out more about them?
Off topic, but I wasn't aware that there were people named Hermione in the real world. :)
I'm actually sick of all the jibber jabber bull that's on TechCrunch. So glad I just discovered you! Plus they're not very nice to Canadians, or anyone really, seems like they're becoming the gossip tabloid of IT news. Yay for discovering new awesome companies/ people :D
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