I and DH had the honor to lead the startup tours organized for the international E-Bootcampers. So both Wednesday and Thursday the basic rhythm of waking up before 6am and going to bed around 2am went on.
Even though having been several times to the Bay Area, it (once again) definitely had something new to offer. Tesla, making electric cars without compromising any design or convenience related issues, let us in to see their production line. They’re constantly looking for interns, so Lauri & Mikko stay tuned for a Startup Life intro! Photographing inside the premises was absolutely forbidden, even though sometimes the rules are made to be broken.
Google was pretty crazy. Instead of getting thrown out for “just using the free wifi”™ we got inside! The 30.000-employee company has indeed a pretty nice HQ. The engineers have literally built their own working spaces and we saw desks varying from a jungle to an inflatable tent. And the food.. We knew how much people hype on Google’s gastronomic offerings to its employees but seriously – the food scene in the campus is more than impressive. The cantina we ate in had everything from Japanese to Mexican cuisine and from the best pizza ever to delicious indian chicken.
Yahoo‘s data center was another stunning place. A huge room filled with noise, hot air cut with cool air breezes and a respectful amount of server racks consuming a ridiculous amount of electricity makes you think a bunch of things – e.g. which of these hard drives do contain my flickr photos. To access any room a four-fingerprint-scanning is required. The co-founder of Yahoo, David Filo, was in the house, showing us his servers wearing an old cosy looking stanford sweater. Roger that.
Intel was a bit of an anti-climax of the day since instead of seeing the actual company we visited the Intel Museum. A bit of Heureka-liked tour into the early years of Intel and the development process of the processors revealed us still some curious nice-to-know info.
After Palo Alto it was time to go downtown San Francisco. Kiva provided interesting insights on social entrepreneurship as a non-profit startup. Kiva offers anyone the possibility to give micro loans to people from developing countries eager to start to build their own idea. It’s actually a more fair and respectful deal compared to charity.
At Twitter we had a nice session with six employees specialized in localization. Most of the discussion focused on the integration of the service into different cultures as well as on how the company has grown during its six-year existence. Twitter is definitely one of the biggest players revolutionizing the way societies communicate within as well as between each other.
Dropbox was the cherry on top. An exclusive tour at their brand new office right next to the AT&T Park with a sea view, a 400-employee-capacity and a music room (with a really decent band equipment and a grand piano) was simply great. Even though the office was nice, the most important thing at Dropbox was the laid-back open culture. While we had lunch, one of the head engineers just sat down with us to chat, Drew Houston (the CEO) drove by on a little electric scooter and all the time someone was playing ping pong. Still you could be sure that everyone was professional in their own field and shared the same passion (to make Dropbox the greatest service on Earth). Chris Barton, the founder of Shazam, was also present and had a short Q&A with us. Dropbox HR people definitely approved Startup Life and what could be a better giveaway than 5GB of free dropbox space? ; )
The two-day startup touring ended up with the actual E-Bootcamp kick-off dinner where Douglas M. Leone, partner of Sequoia Capital, gave an insightful keynote (and a Q&A) about thinking differently, the first approach to a specific market and the entrepreneur’s four risks: market, people, product and money – underlining the market as the most crucial factor. Douglas now knows about Startup Sauna and is more than willing to see the best teams from the spring batch in the Valley!
So far it’s been great to help BASES people out with the arrangements and we’re really looking forward to the rest of the days!
100+ great individuals with the right mindset to create new things in the same place. Simply Wow.
- Juho & DH