Silicon Valley is known for both unicorns and blackswans. What political, social and economic ideas shape the culture of Silicon Valley today?

Silicon Valley's operational philosophy and achievements

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Silicon Valley is an area in the southern bay of San Francisco, USA, first used on the cover of Electronic News on 10 January 1971 as part of an article written by journalist Don Hoefler, because of the area’s association with the silicon transistors used in all the processors of modern industry (Laws,2021). “Silicon Valley” is known worldwide for being the headquarters of a large number of technology companies, including Apple, Amazon, Facebook and other Fortune 500 companies. Silicon Valley has also developed a diverse ecosystem based on its social and economic philosophy.

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What are unicorns and black swans:

There are no real-life unicorns; privately owned start-ups with an estimated market capitalisation of $1 billion or more make up Silicon Valley’s “unicorns” (IBERDROLA, n.d.). Since the term was coined in 2013, there have been more than 1,100 such companies in 2021, and the unshakable European belief that swans were all white until the discovery of the black swan on the Australian continent collapsed, and the black swan became a symbol of something that was meant to be more than the tried and true. In the high-tech industry, small, unpredictable events with huge knock-on effects are known as ‘Black Swan’ events.

The political problem:

The emergence of computers and the internet was not only the spread of new technology, but also the birth of a new culture, which was more likely to be found in Silicon Valley as a gathering place for the new technological elite. Silicon Valley was founded on the idea of freedom over politics, but as long as human beings live and work, some issues will inevitably be treated unfairly because of racial differences and gender differences. Although when it comes to politics and fairness, the human resources departments of the world’s technology centres may well be aware that technical competence is the most effective tool (Benjamin, 2021). But the issue of politics and discrimination is still here, with Silicon Valley still dominated by white males and Asians, with black and Latino workers significantly underrepresented (Nitasha, 2020). And every year there are different voices to blame for the fact that there are significantly fewer women employed in Silicon Valley tech companies than men. The Dalit movement has also continued to permeate from Silicon Valley to other industries.

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While people like Zuckerberg have spoken out in favour of gender equality, there are still voices that feel that making a statement about gender equality as a matter of urgency is inherently discriminatory. Coupled with the increasing power of the internet in modern society, these large companies that are active on the frontline of the world have had to become politically connected. They have the ability to influence and shape opinion to create public opinion, and sometimes these companies

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are themselves at the centre of it. On political issues, liberal philosophy has been key to the development of Silicon Valley, but at the same time the founders of technology companies have their own favoured parties. This is not only a personal choice, but also because both the Democratic and Republican parties respectively influence the future of their companies, so the political choice also indirectly affects the interests of their companies. This is why the technology giants have

become an important part of the canvassing process. In the 2012 US presidential election, 83% of employee contributions from the largest technology companies went to the Obama campaign (Guardian and News Media, 2015).


Video about Sexism in Silicon Valley

The heart of Silicon Valley:

A key reason for the continued vitality of Silicon Valley is its heart – Stanford University. As one of the world’s top academic institutions, it brings together some of the world’s best young people in Silicon Valley. Surveys have shown that if the companies founded by Stanford graduates were considered a country, they would be the tenth largest econom

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y in the world in terms of revenue. Frederick Terman, who is considered the ‘father of Silicon Valley’, became Dean of the Stanford School of Engineering in 1946. He encouraged students to start companies and changed some of the school’s systems and rules to simplify the licensing of intellectual property, thereby facilitating links between the university and industry and allowing researchers to get their ideas on the market faster. This move set the stage for the emergence of the Silicon Valley kingdom, where top technology companies such as Google and Nvidia got their start.


The four economic philosophies of “pushing the door open”, “trial and error culture”, “engineer culture” and “no rules” circulate in Silicon Valley companies. “The four economic philosophies. The push-door culture, as the name suggests, means that when employees have a mature opinion or idea, they can just push the door in and talk to the leader. The main focus is on the concept of equality, unlike the tree-like organisational structure of traditional companies, which eliminates many layers of hierarchy and ensures maximum efficiency in the transfer of information. The essence of the culture of trial and error is to do it first, regardless of the outcome. This is a big difference between Silicon Valley companies and other places, always daring to take the first step of exploration. This culture is universally recognised in Silicon Valley companies. The essence of an engineer culture is a problem-solving oriented work culture. Engineers are the highest paid profession in Silicon Valley and it is the spirit of every Silicon Valley person to put technology and passion first. The last point is that “no rules” is more about motivating everyone to their maximum potential, which is why Silicon Valley has become the world’s leading technology hub, with the majority of Silicon Valley companies adopting soft management and a generally younger workforce that prefers to leave traditional rules behind, while having a broader perspective and a mindset that is more open to change. These four elements form a core part of the Silicon Valley culture that has been passed down from generation to generation and is recognised and embraced by many more companies around the world.

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Silicon Valley is also known for its high levels of venture capital and recruitment of equity investment in start-ups, with 40% of all US venture capital invested in major Silicon Valley companies. The worldwide fund organisations active in Silicon Valley also constitute the world’s leading venture capital ecosystem (Fuerlinger & Garzik , 2021). As a result of the boom in technology companies, most of the early angel investors have earned their desired payouts and most have chosen to continue investing in other industries in Silicon Valley, creating a Silicon Valley ecosystem where most of the high-income ear

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ners who work in Silicon Valley choose to settle, and the ensuing amenities create a high class cycle and make Silicon Valley one of the most expensive areas in the US. “What’s so special about Silicon Valley? The eternal optimism of innovative thinking,” says tech blogger Om Malik.


A new community philosophy that emphasises de-hierarchisation and flexible management has played a crucial role in the birth of Silicon Valley’s unicorns. As one of the world’s most technologically advanced and highest-earning regions, Silicon Valley has always led the way in innovation and daring. The Silicon Valley ecosystem has been built up over a short period of about 20 years. One unicorn after another has been leading the way in changing the world of technology. The culture of Silicon Valley has long since moved beyond Silicon Valley and has become a model for companies around the world.







Reference List:

Brown, K. C., & Wiles, K. W. (2015). In Search of Unicorns: Private IPOs and the Changing Markets for Private Equity Investments and Corporate Control. Journal of Applied Corporate Finance27(3), 34–48.

Benjamin, N. (2021, June 28). How Technology Supports Workplace Diversity,Equity AndInclusion. Forbes.

Cerdeira, N. (2022, March 27). Top 65 Unicorn Startups Founded in Silicon Valley. Retrieved from Failory:

Eesley, C & Miller ,W. (2012). Impact: Stanford University’s Economic Impact via Innovation and Entrepreneurship, October 2012, Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA.

Fuerlinger , G & Garzik , L.(2021). Successful Innovation Systems. Silicon Valley Innovation System(pp.225-247).

 IBERDROLA. (n.d.). Do startups dream of unicorns?

Laws, D. A. (2021, January 13). Silicon Valley turns fifty. Medium. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from

Lusoli, & Turner, F. (2021). “It’s an Ongoing Bromance”: Counterculture and Cyberculture in Silicon Valley—An Interview with Fred Turner. Journal of Management Inquiry30(2), 235–242.