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Silicon Valley — Back to the Future

After its recent troubles, is Silicon Valley still the heart of the New Economy?

December 13, 2000

After its recent troubles, is Silicon Valley still the heart of the New Economy?

Despite the recent fall in stock prices for America’s ubiquitous dot-coms, California’s Silicon Valley continues to be the most vibrant symbol of the New Economy. Before glee over recent troubles in the Valley sets in among those who feel left out of its fortunes, we look at this community of millionaires.

Who lives in the Valley?

As of mid 1999, Silicon Valley was home to roughly 250,000 millionaires. On average, people were becoming millionaires at a rate of 64 a day. (Newsweek)

How did that change the Valley?

In 1999, the average home price in Palo Alto, one of the largest cities in the Valley, was $843,500 — about eight times higher than the U.S. median price. (New York Times)

Who can afford that?

In 1999, 34% of Santa Clara county’s 20,000 homeless people had full-time jobs — a 25% increase from 1995. (New York Times)

How quickly did the economy grow in Silicon Valley?

In the 1990’s, Silicon Valley had an average annual growth rate of over 4%, more than double the U.S.-wide growth rate. (Regional Financial Review)

In the third quarter of 1999, the Silicon Valley region of California received $3.3 billion in venture capital investment. That was roughly equal to the total amount received by the next five largest U.S. technology centers. (PriceWaterhouse Coopers)

So, what if the Valley did it alone?

If California’s Silicon Valley were a separate country, its economy would rank among the world’s 12 largest. (Newsweek)

Is it too late to get in on this?

In March 2000, Silicon Valley headhunters were seeking to fill more than 600 vacant chief executive positions with firms in the Bay Area. (Economist)

In early 2000, Silicon Valley companies started a policy that required visitors to sign “non-disclosure agreements” with some even asking for signatures under “don’t-recruit agreements.” (Economist)

Finally, what about the Valley’s reputation as a “melting pot?”

Chinese and Indian chief executives ran 13% of Silicon Valley’s technology companies started between 1980 and 1984 — and 29% of those launched between 1995 and 1998. (Public Policy Institute of California)

As of 1998, more than 35% of Silicon Valley programmers and computer engineers are foreign-born. (Washington Post)