Silicon Valley hasn’t had one of its best years. There are more and more complaints about inequality, discrimination against women and minorities, lack of innovation, and a focus on short-term economic gain. The Valley, veterans say, isn’t what it used to be. And, they go on, if Silicon Valley is to survive, it has to reinvent itself in an increasingly competitive global economy where most of the rest of the world is trying to emulate the Valley.
So I asked David Kirkpatrick, when I interviewed him at an Ericsson and AT&T Foundry hosted FutureCast event that focused on the future of innovation, how exactly can Silicon Valley reinvent itself?
Kirkpatrick believes that Silicon Valley is thinking “too small” and too narrowly. There’s too much focus on the app economy and on Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, he says. For Silicon Valley to truly become the engine of global innovation again, Kirkpatrick believes, it’s got to start focusing on the big issues–on reinventing healthcare, education, synthetic biology, and even government.
While Kirkpatrick doesn’t foresee Silicon Valley becoming Detroit in the near future, he does think that the Detroit tragedy should be a wake-up call. Which may be one reason why Kirkpatrick, who already holds an annual Techonomy event in Detroit, has announced that he’s shifting next year’s Techonomy conference to Half Moon Bay, a few miles west of Silicon Valley.
So Techonomy and David Kirkpatrick are coming to Silicon Valley next year. But does this mean that the best and brightest are still coming to Silicon Valley? In our next segment, Kirkpatrick discusses why the Valley might be now struggling to attract the best people from around the world.