The US 101 Effect
'The US 101 is the life vein of a distinct and vibrant community. The commuters listen, they pay attention and contribute to the conversation.'
United States Highway 101 runs north and south along the Pacific coast all the way from California to Washington. In Northern California, “US 101” is the vein that runs through Silicon Valley directing people between San José and San Francisco and beyond. By driving up and down, north and south, every day, you get a sense of what’s happening in the technology world’s famed Silicon Valley. I recently spent a couple weeks here, working and exploring, trying to grasp a sense of what makes Silicon Valley, well, Silicon Valley. What is its essence? Why do new technologies pop up so quickly? And, how do they get very rapidly adopted and receive good Public Relations coverage? Unlike some of my American friends, I felt fortunate to do the daily commute along the US 101. It gave me time to think and it somehow sparked the notion of “The US 101 Effect.”
The US 101 Effect…
The first couple of days of my Bay Area stay, I was clearly too caught up in my old European paradigm, perhaps too jetlagged also, to get the picture. The very first day for instance – driving south from San Francisco airport – I noticed this giant billboard next to the freeway. There was our competitor box.net waging war against Microsoft. I immediately thought “Why on earth spend good marketing money on a single billboard that probably no one notices, and challenging Microsoft for Pete’s sake – good luck!?”
A couple of days later, driving back from downtown “Fog City” on the US 101, I witnessed the same thing. This time it was more like the clash of the titans: Google versus Microsoft. I was puzzled! But as early as the next day it dawned on me when all of a sudden both billboards got covered on TV-news and gained wide-reaching bloggers’ attention: one billboard, on a 50 mile highway stretch, that’s all Box and Google needed to get the world’s attention?! I suddenly became very intrigued.
There is indeed something very exceptional about this US 101 – “US Tech’s El Camino Real”. It exhibits some sort of “economy of focus”, because so many people that use it are involved in the high tech industry in one way or another. It doesn’t matter who you are, in PR, a venture capitalist, or just a user of technology, everyone lives within and gets life from that ecosystem, especially in the geographic area that spreads from San José to San Francisco.
While on an average highway 99% of the people couldn’t care less, the US 101 is the life vein of a distinct and vibrant community. The commuters listen, they pay attention and contribute to the conversation; it appears they are genuinely interested. That is why a zeppelin flies above the US 101 (and CA 85, one of its side-rivers) highlighting an at-home genetics test and its web site www.23andme.com. Everyday indeed (at least in August) an enormous blimp gets airborne from Moffett Field and flies over the road infrastructure of Silicon Valley, because the 23andme executives know that 99% of the US 101 commuters give a damn. They genuinely want to know what the next best thing to buy is, to invest in, to work for, to sell, to cover, etc.
About Filip Tack
Founder and CEO of Nomadesk.
Filip has a BS and MS in Bioscience Engineering from Ghent University and an MBA degree from Vlerick Leuven Ghent Management School. His professional background includes sales, marketing and software engineering. Before founding Nomadesk in 2004, Filip held positions at a leading telecom equipment manufacturer and an IT start-up company. His responsibilities ranged from engineering functionality on telephone exchanges, to sales and marketing of telecom equipment and “vanguard” IT services, to corporate communication.
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