Welcome!

Mobile IoT Authors: Scott Allen, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Jeev Trika

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

i-Technology Viewpoint: Silicon Valley Recovering Slowly

Seemingly Glacial Pace Illustrates a Changing World

There are a few key things to remember.

First, San Francisco likes to compare itself with Paris, or say, Florence. It ignores San Jose and Santa Clara County. Its blueblood natives pride themselves on tolerance and philanthropy, and they don't know the difference between a memory chip and a guy named Chip out at the club.

Second, Santa Clara County, home of the original Silicon Valley, is often slammed as being a culturally deficient workaholics' paradise that cares less about philanthropy than it does about how the latest chips will "enable" their business models and provide their well-deserved multimillions.

Meanwhile, over in Oakland, Berkeley, and the rest of the East Bay, chips grow on peoples' shoulders as the fastest-growing region of the Bay Area continues to get little respect, yet provides the last conceivably affordable housing in the region and has a true cultural and economic diversity not seen in its two domineering brethren.

Yet these three areas hold together well enough to form the San Francisco Bay Area, a region cooled by the Pacific Ocean and tempered by a mosaic of homegrown U.S. and international cultures, and a deceptively intense daily pace that simply does not allow for serious regional grudges to take root. Hey man, it’s cool, no problem. Be yourself, man, but dude, that was my parking space!

This reporter has lived throughout the Bay Area off and on for the past 25 years. I love it, as do most people who live here. Great weather, great food, an underrated sports environment, and an area that continues to be among the most creative—and competitive—technology-driven regions in the world.

But yes, the Bay Area can seem insufferable. Self-satisfied and smug, on the bleeding edge of political correctness, and a place that has fueled individualistic narcissism since the days of the Gold Rush of 1849.

So maybe there aren’t many tears being shed for us these days. But the severity of the economic doldrums of the past five years cannot be overstated, at least when compared to previous Bay Area economic slumps. This was hardly a little dip, a little soft patch, a little recession. Eyes rolled when the 2000-2001 national recession was declared over in 2002, as our beloved technology industry was still in freefall that year.

The fall continued, and continued, like a nightmarish roller coaster with an undetermined, and perhaps unlimited drop after that nice initial climb. Official unemployment rates never told the story, as most out-of-work engineers and marketeers in the Bay Area simply became underemployed consultants, contractors, or eternal job seekers who refused to file for benefits.

In a state that encourages 100% interest-only housing loans, and with real-estate taxes tightly capped from the days of Proposition 13 in 1976, it still seems as if the equity train can be ridden forever. Living off of one’s home equity has become the latest lifestyle choice, like buying a hot tub in the 70s, getting that Bimmer in the 80s, or putting in a great wine cellar in the 90s.

Over the past five years, marketing budgets got zeroed out, engineering got outsourced and offshored, and business after business went out of business when caught in the vice of declining revenues and long-term lease agreements for office space they’d never use. I’ve seen documents relating to several major business failures, and all contained leases for as much as 500,000 square feet of office space (at premium prices) that had as much chance of being fulfilled as the promise of cheap nuclear power. Basements full of hundreds of computers, phones, desks, and chairs now worth less than the plastic contained in them  became a common, iconic image.

The good news is that some of the worst commutes in this traffic-strangled region improved dramatically. One could now sail at virtually any speed past empty glass houses, chatting on one’s cellphone about…what? Certainly not business, because there wasn’t any.

And the doldrums persist. A report in the May 29 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, headlined “Painful Recovery,” brings some statistics to bear on a problem that has simply not gone away.

The story, written by Tom Abate, shows average Class A Bay Area office rents continuing to drop, reaching a current $24.18 per square foot per month. This compares to close to $60 in early 2001, dropping quickly in 2002, but continuing to drift slowly downward to the present day. Vacancy rates have dipped slightly from a year ago, but still stand at almost 19%, compared to about 3% in 2000.

Payrolls in metropolitan San Jose dipped by 20%, or more than 200,000 jobs. (San Francisco lost about half that amount, and the East Bay declined only slightly.) But remember, these are official government statistics. They don’t count all the outsourced payrolls that actually provided jobs to the region, and they cannot reflect the psychological effect on a region that has been used to double-digit growth on a regular basis for decades. Hotel room and occupancy rates have recovered from their lows of two years ago, but still stand well below their peak.


Downtown San Jose. Will This Be The New Detroit?


Trade shows can be a good arbiter of how things are going in the industry. Well, Comdex has died and is probably not going to be resurrected. Although not held in the Bay Area, about 40% of its attendees and exhibitors came from here in its glory days. Major events such as Sun’s JavaOne, held at the Moscone Center, seem to have lost their edge. (We’ll find out in a couple of weeks when the show returns for its 10th year.) MacWorld Expo seems to be back, albeit fueled more by iPod enthusiasm than any sharp increase in personal computer marketshare by Apple.

Company-produced events such as the Intel Developer’s Forum, and annual customer events by Oracle and RSA, have strong enough attendance these days, although they don’t seem to be on the sort of dramatic growth curve one routinely saw at industry events for a 15-year period from 1985 to 2000.

And I saw recent enthusiasm at a major wireless event and a more recent PalmSource developer’s conference, both in San Jose. But both at San Jose hotels, with crowds in the 1,000-attendee range. The days of drawing 40,000 people to the San Jose Convention Center for Internet World, and paying $40 to park your car in this underserved transit corridor are gone, gone.

San Jose will become the new Detroit, in Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s memorable comparison in a Chronicle interview awhile back, if it doesn’t somehow figure out how to deal with a more global economy, business consolidation, and a more reasonable assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. San Francisco’s bluebloods don’t miss the dot-com era, as all these assuming young hotshots were driving what’s left of the “working class” out of The City (as it likes to call itself). And Oakland, whose Mayor is feisty former Governor Jerry Brown, continues to be the unsung center of an unsung region.

But, specific parochial viewpoints aside, the entire region has in fact suffered from a decline that does not show signs of a true, imminent recovery. Abate’s story quoted an academic as referring to the recent regional downturn as “massive” and noting that 80% of the job losses will probably not return. Ever. Ever?

The story also profiled what may be the typical new growth company in the region, a company involved in GPS systems that is showing a 20% revenue growth per year but is hiring “in the single digit range…(and) whenever possible…at other locations outside the Bay Area.”

To be sure, there are still several very large companies out here, making profits. Cisco, HP, Oracle, Intel, and even Sun come to mind. Yahoo and Google and eBay are all newcomers to the superstar scene.

Hundreds of smaller companies continue to churn out great products and great ideas. Intense, passionate, even fanatic communities continue to thrive, whether dedicated to Java, open source, search, or plain old silicon horsepower enhancement.

But the reality is that that Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area have been knocked off their perch—some would say high-horse—in the world of technology. The idea of outsourcing ever more aspects of the business to India or China are not popular here. Nor are H1B visas.

Web developers make half of what they made five years ago. Stock options went under more water than a coral reef and ESOPs disappeared like the coin in that creepy magician’s hand. The irony is that most people are working harder than ever to make less and less. There’s no such thing as a debate over restricting workweek hours or guaranteeing jobs for technology employees. Here, your career lives or dies solely on your abilities and wits. There is little room for complainers, order takers, or cruise-control work ethics. Here, as they say, “it’s about” opportunity, insane creativity, and new paradigms.

Silicon Valley and the Bay Area were saved in the mid-80s slump by the emergence of the personal computer (with a grudging thanks to IBM and Microsoft, two not-Bay-Area companies), and then in the mid-90s by the Worldwide Web (with a big thanks to Switzerland and the local heroes at Netscape).

Surely something will come along soon to refire the area’s creative and engineering cauldrons, something for which the Bay Area’s unique combination of talent and climate is better suited than anywhere else on the planet. There are simply too many experienced, manically driven people here to keep the good times from returning, full force. Right?

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit y...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will discuss the vast to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu, a leading provider of cloud hosting solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to foc...
SYS-CON Events announced today the How to Create Angular 2 Clients for the Cloud Workshop, being held June 7, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified. Now it’s a component-based well-performing framework. The immersive one-day workshop led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 24Notion has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. 24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to con...
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT's direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
SYS-CON Events announced today BZ Media LLC has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and Commercial Drone markets.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...