Bangalore: Silicon Valley or Coolie Valley?

Topic started by padmanathanm (@ on Sat Mar 6 13:36:10 EST 2004.
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

Bangalore: Silicon Valley or Coolie Valley?

Politicians, bureaucrats and residents of Bangalore
take pride in the fact that they live in what they
call the Silicon Valley of the East. The city is
considered high tech because of the number of software
and software services companies located here.

But is Bangalore really Silicon Valley?

California's Silicon Valley

In 1933 Frederick Terman, a professor of engineering
at Stanford University, mentored two undergraduates
named Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, and was
instrumental in getting them to start a company.

They went on to form the company Hewlett-Packard. This
was the first seed from which Silicon Valley grew.

Today around 2,000 electronics and information
technology companies, along with numerous services and
supplier firms, are clustered in the area.

Silicon Valley contains the densest concentration of
innovative industry that exists anywhere in the world,
including companies that are leaders in fields like
computers, semiconductors, lasers, fiber optics,
robotics, medical instrumentation, and consumer

Some products that went from dream to reality in
Silicon Valley are the first video game, the ink-jet
printer, the video recorder, the mouse, the personal
computer, and much else that we take for granted in
the information age.

Here's a sample of some Silicon Valley firms, familiar
to most of us because of their products: Adobe Systems
(Acrobat Reader), Apple Computer (computer),
Hewlett-Packard (printer), Intel (the CPU in your PC),
Netscape (Internet browser), Seagate Technology (the
hard disk in your PC), Yahoo (Internet portal),
VeriFone (credit card terminals in shops), Symantec
(Norton anti-virus software), etc.

Such firms are called technology companies, because
their chief resource is the technologies that they
develop and own, not the real estate that they are
sitting on or the equipment that they possess. Stocks
in a technology company are called 'tech stocks.'
Scientists and engineers working in these companies
are called 'techies.'

Indicative of the inventive spirit is the fact that
residents of Santa Clara County, which includes San
Jose and other Silicon Valley computer hotbeds, were
granted 27,617 patents during the 1990s.

Silicon Valley thrives on risk. Business in the Valley
is about placing bets on people, ideas and inventions.

If the Silicon Valley were an independent country, its
economy would be about the tenth largest in the world.

Bangalore or 'Coolie Valley'

If you ask the president of any of Bangalore's
software development companies what his company does,
he'll say "We provide end-to-end solutions for Xxxx."
Xxxx could be any or all of these -- e-commerce,
banking, telecom. . .

What he means to say is this: 'We'll do the software
coding in any of these areas for you. Just tell us
what you need. We have a huge mass of engineers who
know various programming languages.'

These companies do not develop any technologies or
products. They provide development services. They have
engineers who specialize in programming languages
rather than in technologies.

Their chief resource is the huge mass of low-cost
labour that they have taken the trouble to recruit.

Ask them about patents, and you get the reply "Huh,
what's that?"

These companies start with zero risk. They do not bet
on their ideas or inventions. A company is started
after getting some contracts in hand.

A typical engineer in these companies has no
specialization in any technology. He does not use his
engineering knowledge. You could say his body is
employed, but his brain is severely under-employed.

Here is a sample of some prominent Bangalore software
companies with what they specialize in: Tata
Consultancy Services (end-to-end solutions), Wipro
(end-to-end solutions), Infosys (end-to-end solutions)

DSQ Software (end-to-end solutions), Kshema
Technologies (end-to-end solutions), Ivega
Technologies (end-to-end solutions), MindTree
Consulting (end-to-end solutions).

The comparison

Silicon Valley companies are based on 'know what.'
They know the market, they know the technology and
they know what products to make to earn money.

Coolie valley companies are based on 'know how.' They
do the software coding for other companies that have
the 'know what.' If you tell them what to do, they
know how and will do it for you.

Silicon Valley companies invest huge sums of money on
R&D. They generate new ideas and are constantly
developing new ways of doing things.

Coolie Valley companies have nothing called R&D. They
do not generate any new ideas.

A typical Silicon Valley engineer is a specialist in a
particular technology, like inkjet printing or virus
detection. He spends all his life working in this
technology area.

A typical Coolie Valley engineer is a specialist in a
few languages. He is not concerned about the
technology that he is working on and is willing to
develop any software with the languages that he knows.

A typical Silicon Valley engineer's education and work
experience all relate to a technology. When he changes
jobs, he changes to another company working on the
same technology.

A typical Coolie Valley engineer's work experience
does not teach him any technology. He may be a
mechanical engineer currently working for three months
on banking software, and then the next three months on
shoe retailing software.

Silicon Valley is all about the excitement of creating
things out of nothing. Companies like HP actually
started in the garages of their founders.

Coolie Valley does not know the meaning of creativity.
Some companies are started by people who quit other
companies and take some of the parent firm's software
development contracts with them.

Silicon Valley's entrepreneurs bet on people, ideas
and inventions.

Coolie Valley's entrepreneurs bet on certainties. They
start a firm after getting software development

Silicon Valley's firms are about technology

Coolie valley's firms are about man management.

It is extremely presumptuous to compare Bangalore with
Silicon Valley, so all you Bangaloreans, please do me
a favour and

Don't call your city Silicon Valley ('pub city' or
'garden city', I have no problem with -- lots of pubs
and lots of trees, but very little silicon).
Don't call one of your new software companies a 'high
technology start-up.'
Don't call your engineers 'techies.' They've forgotten
their engineering long ago.
Don't say you've invested in 'tech stocks' ('body
stocks' maybe ?).
If you are from Delhi or Mumbai and encounter a
Bangalorean 'techie' spouting off about his work or
about his Silicon Valley, you no longer need to
develop an inferiority complex.


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