America, and the world, lost a great entrepreneur in Steve Jobs. The day he decided not to go into work anymore was the day we really lost him. It’s fitting that his last name was Jobs, because he created more jobs than any government administration.
A broader question needs to be asked, “Could Steve Jobs have done what he did in any other place?” I don’t think he could have.
As Paul Graham aptly pointed out in his blog, Silicon Valley is a special place that cannot be replicated in exactly the same way.
In most places, if you start a startup, people treat you as if you’re unemployed. People in the Valley aren’t automatically impressed with you just because you’re starting a company, but they pay attention. Anyone who’s been here any amount of time knows not to default to skepticism, no matter how inexperienced you seem or how unpromising your idea sounds at first, because they’ve all seen inexperienced founders with unpromising sounding ideas who a few years later were billionaires.
In most other cities, the prospect of starting a startup just doesn’t seem real. In the Valley it’s not only real but fashionable. That no doubt causes a lot of people to start startups who shouldn’t. But I think that’s ok. Few people are suited to running a startup, and it’s very hard to predict beforehand which are (as I know all too well from being in the business of trying to predict beforehand), so lots of people starting startups who shouldn’t is probably the optimal state of affairs. As long as you’re at a point in your life when you can bear the risk of failure, the best way to find out if you’re suited to running a startup is to try it.
But, we are growing. One day we will be a lake, and then a sea, and hopefully an ocean. It’s important to note, oceans don’t compete with each other. They are symbiotic even though they have different forms of life and different water temperatures.
Another thing that happens in the Valley is very random. You can’t ever plan for, or underestimate it’s effect: “Chance”.