Working in Silicon Valley

Dave Collier graduated six years ago and currently working for Apple. Yesterday he came back to visit me and I asked him to share his experience with the students. Following was what he said.

“Like many college graduates who are working in the technology industry, I have been inspired by the advance of technology in Silicon Valley. I want to work for companies who are the leaders of innovations. As a student, I work hard to develop my technical skills because I want to be one of the best. With my ambition and the endless opportunities in Silicon Valley, I know that this is the place where I can build my future. After graduates from Carnegie Mellon, I decided to work for Apple.”

Image: Internet

“Everybody who works for Apple knows that innovation is the process of translating an idea into a good or service that creates value for which customers will pay. Many people have an idea but if it does not create value or making money, it is a bad idea. To be called an innovation, an idea must have a strong value and satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves a lot of imagination that can deliver disruptive values and converted into useful products.”

“Many people consider technology as a toy or video games to play, a social platform to expose themselves without realizing that technology is the main driver of the economy and the door to success. Today many people shop online, read news online, communicate online, take pictures and share them online without knowing that they are the CONSUMERS of technology, they pay to make people who work in Silicon Valley, the CREATORS of technology to get rich.”

“In the dynamic world of Silicon Valley, innovation happens every day, people create new things every week, and our companies deliver products to consumers every few months. This is a reality of Silicon Valley. For example, one day, this video game is a best seller, then just a few weeks later, it disappears and a new video game is the next best seller. Consumers of technology love it and continue to pay for it and people like me are getting paid much more.”

“Many people like innovations that make their lives better and simpler so companies like Apple, Uber, and Airbnb took existing products or services and used technology to make specific connections with their customers. These companies did not invent anything, they only reinvented the way business is done and make it easy to use with technology. The secret of Steve Job is he knew what customers wanted before they even realized it. That is why even today, Apple is still the most innovative company in the world.

“Everybody loves Apple. In fact, they expect Apple to create more things, more changes to their daily lives. They want to use the products that Apple developed and keep adapt quickly to the changes created by the new products. It is a fact that all over the world, many people feel the need to have more of Apple’s innovative products. Every time Apple releases new products, people would stand in line for days to get them. That is the miracle of understanding innovations and knowing what the CONSUMERS want. The fact is it is not the technology that makes Apple succeed, it is the design simplicity that the technology enables.”

“Today companies all over the world are investing a lot of money in technology. There are many articles on technologies such as Cloud computing, Machine learning, the Internet of Things, etc. but to us, who are working in Silicon Valley, it is a part of our lives that we do not even think about it. We work with these technologies every day. What we do is to create more technology-enabled products. If you want to work in Silicon Valley, you need to pay attention to all the technology trends, you need to know which technology would be the next “Big thing” and how the new revolution will begin. You cannot wait until it happens and learn about it. You must constantly read about technology trends to feel the rhythm of the digital evolution. For us, technology innovation is a part of our lives.”

“The secret of Silicon Valley is companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple did not invent new things but create a new future for many existing things. Their leaders know how to deliver easy-to-use, brilliantly designed products, sell them effectively, and maintain a strong position in the market. Of course, It is not easy as there are many competitors from overseas but so far, these companies are still on the top. It is impossible to create another Silicon Valley somewhere as many overseas companies copied our products or approaches, some succeed but most failed. The fact is consumers do not like “fake products,” a cheap iPhone look alike from China cannot compete with the real iPhone from Apple, regardless of the price.”

“However, working in Silicon Valley, we all know that disruption can happen anywhere and at any time. All the big companies, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are always worried about some small teams sitting in a garage somewhere creating a new innovative product that could turn the entire market upside down. Even at Apple, we are worried about the next “Steve Jobs” living in a garage somewhere in San Jose or San Francisco. We do not worried about well-known competitors from overseas because we know these companies do not have enough technically skilled workers to compete or do not have the “innovative spirit” to threaten companies at Silicon Valley, at least not in the near future.”

“However, the fact is, anyone, anywhere, at any time, can cause disruption and bring an idea to the market and change everything. That is what the digital revolution is about.”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University