Friday, 4 October 2013

Mind bending fun in Silicon Valley

What a week it's been over here in the San Francisco / Bay Area.

Every time I visit I get blown away by the endless opportunities, the innovation, the sense of excitement and if I'm honest the coolness of being at the centre of the digital universe right now.

Silicon Valley is a melting pot of great ideas, extremely bright people and big investors who are prepared to go big or go home.

Perhaps it never really went off the boil, but either way it feels supercharged at the moment.

Every day a new start up comes onto the scene or an incumbent like Google launches a new product.

Nothing stands still for long.

Just when you thought traditional TV was dying along comes a group of smart college kids to save the day, ripping up the rule book once again.

The culture of doing cool stuff that matters (a Google mantra we heard about yesterday) resonates strongly with me. It's infectious. You feel like you can change the world for the better out here.

It was also fascinating to hear a little about Google X - the top secret team behind the Google car, Google Glass and Google Loon.

Their mission is to solve a big problem with a radical solution and break through technology.

Designed to launch businesses not just come up with ideas they operate with a longer time line than most companies.

The Google car has been five years in the making and is probably five years from launch. The Google X team want to make money, they just don't know when. That's my kind of team.

So what have I seen and learnt this week?
Here are my top ten:

1. Digital watermarking could be game changing in retail. Watch this space. And that space. In fact just hold your phone up to just about anything in the future. Boom.

2. Want to find something in a store or in a museum or anywhere for that matter?  Analysing changes in the magnetic forces of the earth will help. Bit Star Trek that one.

3. Facebook is growing up. They appear to be maturing and have a real confidence in who they are and what they can deliver. Measurement and ROI are at the heart of how they now interact with advertisers. Custom and lookalike audiences are changing everything.

4. Twitter is about to explode (in a good way) with some really exciting developments up its sleeve. Sorry, not saying more than that in case I get in trouble. Coming soon though.

5. Cisco is far more innovative and leading edge than I'd ever assumed. They bent my mind yesterday in their innovation lab in San Jose. Goes to show the original tech firms are still in the game.

6. Toothpick ball run sculptures of San Francisco that took 37 years to build are cool. And meeting the inventor at the Exploratorium was super cool.

7. Baseball isn't boring. In fact it beats going to cricket or football. There you go I said it. Shoot me now and take away my passport.

8. Jake Bugg is really good for his age etc (damming praise) but not after drinking 12 beers and suffering from extreme jet lag.

9. The weather in San Francisco in October is perfect.

10. I absolutely love it out here but I miss my wife and kids and pet dog Max and am looking forward to getting home. I'm not looking forward to the ten hour flight in British Airways economy class. Every day low cost baby - it's the Asda way :)


  1. When exactly is the World Series in baseball, I can't wait to see the French, South African and Argentinians playing? Oh that's right, its not really a World Series as it just includes Canada. (See point 7) ;-)

  2. I'm going to California in a week for pleasure, not business. This almost makes me wish I was going for the latter, not the former.

  3. Wasn't The World just the newspaper that used to sponsor the series? Hence the name.