Silicon Valley is the home of the tech boom. Take a wander round and you’ll find all the established industry names such as Apple, Google and Microsoft and of course a plethora of companies that you’ve never heard of – seeking to join those names.
Where there’s technology, there are nerds and oddballs and money, gobs and gobs of money. When money meets mad geniuses – the world becomes a slightly different place from the one we are used to.
Let’s take a rummage through the Valley’s metaphorical dustbin and see what secrets we can unveil from this fascinating and bizarre part of the nation.
Uber Over Delivers
Uber isn’t only available in Silicon Valley though that is where the company started. Today it brings millions of people together to get cheap fares the world over. But only in Silicon Valley do Uber drivers drive a Tesla Model S to pick up their fares. That’s an all-electric vehicle made by Elon Musk’s people (Elon Musk is one of Silicon Valley’s best-known billionaires).
The car costs nearly $73,000 brand new and is one of the kindest cars to the environment that’s currently on the road. It’s a stylish ride too and one that we’d be keen to take if Uber had them in our neighborhood.
Peculiar Parking Privileges
Silicon Valley is all about the money. It’s why tech firms set up in the valley. It’s not like you can’t find skilled technical staff pretty much anywhere in America and they come at a significant premium in the valley compared to elsewhere.
But the one thing you can guarantee to find in Silicon Valley is savvy investors, who know breakout technology when they see it. That you can’t find easily elsewhere and that’s why every tech startup ends up in the valley. So it kind of makes sense that investors get special treatment when it comes to parking.
Duck or don’t duck?
Boys with their toys. The more money someone has, the more expensive their toys become. In Silicon Valley average tech salaries are far in excess of $100,000 annually and that means there’s plenty of spare cash sloshing around to be spent on cool stuff.
What could be cooler than a bunch of drones? What about a sign prohibiting their use? Which is exactly what Stanford University has had to put up to deter the endless use of the $1,500+ toys in their airspace. Drones are, theoretically, safe to use but in reality – when there are loads of them in the sky, they’re an accident waiting to happen.
Why Not Move into your Van?
The trouble with all of that lovely money in Silicon Valley? It makes everything more expensive. Rent in the valley have surged far in excess of reasonable. That’s probably not such a big deal when you’re working for a brand name and raking in the dough but it’s not such good news if you’re a young hopeful trying to make your mark in the tech boom without a pay packet to rely on.
It’s becoming more and more popular for people to live in their vans to try and make ends meet in Silicon Valley.
Even the Fruit is High Tech
QR codes are the kind of tech that normally come out of Silicon Valley but were in fact invented in Japan to help with labeling in the auto industry there. However, when people realized how much information they could display – they were quickly stolen by the ad-men and re purposed for marketing to passers-bys.
However, they’ve never really caught on outside of technical fields, which explains why it’s only in Silicon Valley that you can find QR codes on fruit. We’re not sure how many programmers really want to see Alvin and The Chipmunks, mind you.
You Just Can’t Get the Staff
What could be better at the end of a hard day’s coding than relaxing with a few drinks? What about relaxing with a few drinks made by a robot? That’s so cool that it makes us feel like moving to Silicon Valley just for a post-work mojito.
Robot bartenders are, of course, only possible because of the efforts of programmers and designers in the tech hub so it only seems fair that the first cocktails poured by the robotic bartender are sunk by those responsible for them. Why not have a few more and call a Tesla Uber?
No Loving Please!
One of the nice things about the tech industry is that it has a much more laid back approach to work life than say the traditional industries of banking and finance. However, sometimes it goes a bit too far.
Zenefits, a software provider that builds HR and payroll solutions, found out that their employees had pushed the idea of “laid back” to the limit – they had to issue a warning notice to employees to stop well, making love in the office stairwells. They noted that they’d found several condoms in a post-usage state to trigger the warning. Yuck.
Hard Done by Millionaires
The poor millionaire, elsewhere in the country, he’d be treated as a man of means and lauded by employees, friends, family and society at large as someone special. But in Silicon Valley, the spoiled wretch is simply a little cog in a very big wheel and it can be very hard on the millionaire’s ego.
So, for real, we have a millionaire complaining about being “average” because he’s getting pushed around by those mean billionaires. We are on Silicon Valley’s playground and they’re still not sharing their toys even though they spend most of their lives making toys.
The Barber Pays the Piper
Virtual Reality is no longer coming soon, it’s available on the High Street. This may, in fact, be one of those trends that Silicon Valley has misjudged as there’s been a lack people rushing to purchase a $600 headset that let you play bad games in the privacy of your own home.
However, in the Valley itself – there’s still a need for people to pretend that everything’s fine with VR and poor Paul here has decided to inflict his Oculus Rift addiction on his barber. He needs to avoid the whole “Oculus Hair” syndrome and have his hair cut accordingly.
Startups: they’re the reason that Silicon Valley exists. Without startups Silicon Valley would just be a handful of global tech conglomerates without a soul, wouldn’t it? How can we cash in on the whole start up culture? Maybe try making a branded energy drink and use it as a marketing tool.
People are always tired in startups, working endless hours at their desks and taking meeting after meeting, trying to improve their product. This energy drink was targeted at the start up industry, but this start up too, failed.
Who says that tech types don’t have a sense of humor? It’s entirely possbile, as proven on Big Bang Theory. However, occasionally they prove us wrong and this “Data Nerd Express” bus was actually put into use for a 2012 conference in Silicon Valley.
They shuttled the “nerds” back and forth between the Santa Clara Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency (expense accounts are jolly good in Silicon Valley) so that the nerds could party at the world famous Computer History Museum without having to worry about the perils of driving in the Bay Area.
Danger Will Robinson!
Most of us grew up with the idea of robots as creations of science-fiction rather than science-fact. Now, in Silicon Valley the idea that they’re a science-fiction trend would be laughed out of sight. Meet K-5, the autonomous security robot developed by Knightscope.
This creepy little thing can wander your car park and spy on the number plates. It scans the plate and runs it through a police database – if there’s a match, it quickly gives your information to police. It also scans pretty much everything else and tries to ensure “employee safety.” We should think twice about taking this route, however, have you seen the Terminator movies?
Low Tech Makes a Comeback
Where there are rich people, there are meetings to get to and hence, traffic jams. But when you need to get to where you’re going and have endless gadgets around you, you’ll figure it out.
Sometimes it takes a little low tech to make getting around easier. While there is a high-tech element to the Scoot service (you use your smartphone’s inbuilt GPS to locate the nearest Scoot service point) the main selling point is tech of a more classic nature, the humble Vespa. It’s about $4 to rent a scooter and zip carefree through the streets of Silicon Valley for 30 minutes.
Strange Hate Campaigns
You’d be forgiven, from what we and others have written about Silicon Valley for thinking that the area is only inhabited by people in the technology industry. That’s not the case but there is a tendency for people in tech to assume that they’re the only ones who matter in the area.
When people believe they’re more valuable than the other people that they share space with – tempers run high. That’s the case with the poster which reprimands techies for their “feral careerism” and asks them to turn down their bragging and boasting in public.
Serious Tooth Removal Services
Normally when you have a tooth removed by a dentist, she throws the tooth in the bin and you go on your merry way. Not in Silicon Valley. When people measure their time in incredible amounts of money, they don’t go to the dentist. The dentist comes to them instead.
Studio Dental is a mobile dental service which stalks the parking lots of Silicon Valley and deals with years of sugary abuse and executive cavities. When your dentist removes a tooth in the Valley, they really remove it. Halfway across the state by the looks of that truck.
Dating is Expensive
There’s a barely seen battle of the sexes in Silicon Valley. Tech companies, and in particular tech startups, tend to attract more men than women. It’s gotten so bad now that the Pew Research Center reckons that there are only 100 single women in Silicon Valley for every 140 single men (and that’s men with jobs – the numbers are higher if you count unemployed dudes).
That means there are slim pickings in singles bars around the city and guys are turning to dating services to make up the slack. Linx, a local dating company, charges $50,000 a year to arrange just 11 dates a year!
Even Desserts are Going Hi-Tech
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what geeks eat for dessert, we’ve got the answer. It’s “computer chip” ice cream. We’d imagine that’s a little plasticky with a metallic aftertaste but to each to their own.
We’re also not sure how that fits in with the ultra-healthy, vegan lifestyle espoused by so many young hip things from Silicon Valley. We’re just hoping that this kind of thing won’t come to McDonald’s. A McMouse is probably more than we can bear; though to be fair it would probably be a McOculus by the time they get round to adapting the menu.
The i’s have it
Trends come and trends go. When Apple started their “i” range with the now almost extinct iPod, it was incredibly hip and tech savvy. Now nearly two decades later, it’s looking a little tired and there’s nothing that says “tired” quite like a Vietnamese restaurant chain getting in on the act.
The play on words of “iPho” must have seemed clever for a few seconds but their staff must flinch every time that they see the name of the restaurant now. Doesn’t stop pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, from being incredibly tasty though – we heartily recommend a bowl or two.
Even Religion is in on the Game
We quite admire the efforts of organized religion when it tries to remain up to date while growing their flocks. Some of our favorites include “Honk if you love Jesus, text while driving if you want to meet him.” and “Hipster Jesus loved you before you were cool.”
So it’s no surprises that churches in the valley are reaching out to their congregations with messages that are perfectly tailored to them. “Google can’t satisfy every search” is pretty good though we also quite like, “Get off of Facebook and into my book – God.” which is rather more forceful in its approach to winning worshipers.
Marijuana Home Deliveries
It’s fair to say that the legalization and commercialization of marijuana isn’t without its critics. Many people worry that the “thin end of the wedge” has arrived and that drug use of all types will soon spill into every aspect of our lives.
However, stoners have been celebrating the change in the legal environment and in California it’s pot-party time. Services like Meadow and Eaze connect you to a doctor to request a letter authorizing you to purchase marijuana-based products and then arrange home-delivery services (or indeed office delivery services). We don’t recommend that Uber drivers smoke on the job though.
The Pampering Perks Are Amazing
Although it’s true that the demographic of those working in Silicon Valley is heavily male dominated, the women who do work there, love it. 31-year-old Erin Lee, who works at Google told Glamour, “The perks are Willy Wonka unreal. We have haircuts on-site. Massages everywhere. I feel bad for people who’ve only ever worked in the Valley, because they don’t realize what the real world is like.”
And if you’re needing a break, Google has Nap Pods for high-tech relaxation. These EnergyPods are designed to help employees recharge to increase their productivity during a long day. Put your feet up, lean back, and turn the cover for some shut eye.
Women in the Valley on Dating
“The odds are good, but the goods are odd” 28-year-old Sara Haider, a lead engineer at Android told Glamour. Many of the brilliant female minds working in Silicon Valley have admitted that although they are heavily outnumbered by single, available men, it doesn’t necessarily make dating any easier. A 2014 Pew Research center poll found that the Palo Alto / San Jose area is, statistically, one of the best cities in the country for women looking to get married, with 57% of men ages 25-34 being unmarried.
Erin Lee of Google admitted that although brilliant, many of the men’s lack of independence outside of work can be a huge turn-off. “They tend to be socially awkward and immature. They don’t have to feed themselves or do their own laundry—companies offer those services,” she said.
Silicon Valley CEO Dumped Google Co-Founder for A-Rod
One female executive of Silicon Valley opted to not date in the valley again. After divorcing Google co-founder Sergey Brin, CEO and Co-founder of billion-dollar start-up 23andMe Anne Wojcicki has found a millionaire outside the tech industry to keep her company. Although it’s unclear where they met, she’s been seen spending plenty of time with retired Yankees player Alex Rodriguez. They were photographed together at Vanity Fair’s 2016 Super Bowl party in San Francisco among other events.
Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
Alex Rodriguez retired in 2016 after being a top player in the game for over two decades. With a net worth of $300 million, these two are the definition of “power couple.”