On his first trip to California, Russian President and aficionado of hi-tech products Dmitry Medvedev was promoting Russia as a country whose priority is innovation.
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Your writing demonstrates how to avoid mistakes in Russia not because you are creating some kind of equipment - if you do, more power to you - but because you subscribe to the "i am a happy Silicon Valley slave/gold-digger" mentality. At the same time, amazingly, you also take yourself unbelievably seriously and think you are awfully important.
Many have contributed to this thread but you are the only one amongst them all with this kind of attitude. Others have enough common sense to be modest. You don't know who is really talking to you here, so your attempts to promote yourself as the ultimate authority on Valley/hi-tech are laughable.
And regardless if anyone listens to my opinion I sincerely hope the one sided mentality of corporate slavery/gold-digging , as well as childish bragging and pridefulness will be avoided both at Skolkovo and any other place where future generations of sci-tech is developed. I hope that common sense and wisdom prevails, regardless of how cutting edge the equipment is being created and how many profits are made.
With three kids, ideas and ways to realise them, you are truly one of the richest. Money is but paper, its use should only be a tool to enable easier living. But some take peoples living as a tool for easier money. It takes one to know one they say, and I know them so well. Only people can push money back to being a tool, and not life itself.
My advice to others, better to climb a few mountains half way, enjoy the view and pick up the photos and experience, rather than try to climb the big one straight off and die on the way. The experience is good anyway, and will let you eveluate better if risking going to the top is right for you.
Now lets make money work for us!
Bogdanov, Count Cash,
It's always interesting to read your comments, please keep posting and not only in this thread. I can regret only that some of my replies just disappeared. I'm afraid, I will never understand how RT censorship works: sometimes they publish very edgy comments and sometimes they just skip them for no obvious reason.
The point is good about gold diggers, but I just want you to see that a gold digger needs infrastructure, needs tools, to get the stuff out of the ground. Those tools usually come from somewhere else, until the community evolves and generates the every day tools themselves, and to have a step change in extraction, usually something with huge investment behind it comes along anew (read government ultimately behind, be it cash or tax breaks) Africans can't get the black gold out of the ground without the 'external' ones coming and bringing the tools
Now for me the discussion is becoming too Silicon Valley focused, as a solution and missing the point of modernisation. Basically we have a petro economy, there are few jobs in it, the only foreign flow of cash is hydrocarbon based. This flow of cash is basically just to the government (in terms of economy), and it only leaks back into the economy through direct government action. So the autocrisy is just a by product of the economy. It actually has to be that way to work. That's where we are, but where we want to be, is to add an additional hydrocarbon independent component, both externally to generate other metthods of foreign cash acquisition, and internal so that the government doesn't have to be in everything, just to push the money around.
So internationalism is needed in this addition, Russian derived products need to be accepted in the world community wider than bombs and oil. We won't do this through isolationism. Additionaly the internal economy we have, has to grow in a self sufficient and supporting way, becoming competitive, free and equal to compete in the world, freeing its way from the hydrocarbon top up. Which comes with the government control.
We have to keep focus on what the problem is and realise the process is a gradual one, more like an impulse engine rather than a smooth gas turbine. Small shocks applied across the nation, with a medium shock here and there is necessary,
No, I didn't say or think that you're suffering and I took "slavery" from Michael's message. In regards of questions like:
1. What the freedom is?
2. Is there life beyond work?
... I would not go there, because the questions like this are always open ended, deeply individual and universal answers do not exist. I think, I understand your excitement about crazy 90-th and the idea that creative work can be everything. People tend to change with time though along with their personal values and mindsets. There are a lot of things that I can learn from my three little kids including their enormous creativity and amazing ability to appreciate each and every day of their life ... without working. I obsoletely disagree that Silly Valley is a bad place for families and kids. Problems do exist, but opportunities are greater than everywhere in the world.
In this context, getting rich is not an independent goal, it's the means to achieve other goals that make more sense to me. Creativity itself is a good thing, but it should not be measured by commercial success only.
I will go to VC firms only if 100% sure in commercial success of my ideas or products and simply enjoy the process otherwise. Money are abundant and become more and more worthless here, but good ideas - not, so in a sense, I'm richer than all Valley's venture capitalists combined while I have those ideas in my head and ability to implement them :).
I could not help myself to response to GrizzlyBear-r-r's comment: "hard working, gold digging, slavery, etc".
By trying to propagate my message about "invisible" side of the Valley which makes it being unique, and providing it in slightly exaggerated form (to highlight the ideas I was presenting), I believe, some of you got wrong impression that guys like me are suffering here. I am part of Silicon Valley, I am one of those who creates its fame, who designs its success, who transforms it daily. This is great feeling. This is feeling of playing God, when you got idea and, then, transform it to something material and useful for others. How this is suffering?
This is huge misconception that working hard and "digging gold" = slavery. In fact, gold diggers by definition are free. They are the masters of themselves. Unlike those two submit themselves to the "higher power" (read: big companies or government driven enterprises) in search of more peaceful life (because, their masters will decide their destiny, so they don't have to worry about it). Slavery -- when you do something which you don't like and don't want. But, when you love what you do -- the hard work becomes joy and becomes life itself.
And that was my primary point in all this discussion -- for Russia to create its own Silicon Valley, it should create appropriate conditions where "gold diggers" will flourish. Slaves, do not create anything. They decouple themselves from work. They are passive. Their minds are occupied by one and only one thing -- do not miss the bell which marks the end of working day. Then, they run home as fast as possible and "enjoy real life".
"The big question is: why all those companies became rich and were able to make their employee's life so comfortable? There is no a single answer for this question"
Absolut ely true - many answers, but my one answer, companies have a natural liefespan, including all the phases similar to a human, birth, childhood, puberty...... At any stage and at any time a company can die, but at each stage the company has a different level of maturity, at the beginning its crying and no nights, then its worry and work, ...... until older adult, when they are established and then lifestyle is number one, the finer things in life...... Basically when a company is mature, it needs a different long term strategic development, it needs careerists, so it takes care of them. At the beginning it is just totally hectic and disposable.
Now my advice how to improve your chances of getting rich, if you want a go/nogo decision. Only do it if a VC backs it. because our hit rate and support are great (if you have a good one). Downside, huge chance you will be rejected, you will need the right team, the right experience, the project in some reasonable state of development,market,p rotection...... So after submitting so many times, you will go away and either try it yourself and throw the house in...... or go back to an ice cold beer and then take the wife out for a meal - which is generally a better route to a spiritually richer life.
But watchpoints, you need to be the right guy or girl to go all the way. Because our contracts are to secure success for US, and I mean us capital letters, not you or the USA, unless YOU deliver, so they have BIG take control and boot you out clauses - nice aren't we!
But if you get through all this, then you have a much better chance to be rich, either offloaded to another company or going all the way in absolutley rare cases to IPO.
Now others may have different answers, and of course I know that VC supports a tiny % of startups!
Skolkova is always talked about, but the overall innovation landscape is much bigger. Here it can be useful to look at a contempory US with some historical reference. The US labs like Bell were a direct steal from the German chemical industry model of centralised labs. The science output was great, but the amount of resultant businesses realised was nothing in comparison to the research undertaken. In fact the real business output was far greater when there was a purely product driven approach, by individuals who could latch onto the research and then deliver a money making project in tight market driven constraints. But it would be a misconception to think it was a linear flow. Many times the idea was outside, and found the research that enabled it or bolted the fruits of research together to make the desired proposition, often an evolving one. The natural economics of this, meant that the system moved to a reduced more business focused Lab and piecewise money making driven innovation in the derivative startups. So equilibrium was achieved and has motored along quite happily, as the bootstrap of the Research impulse has driven the piecewise innovation and its feedback
But now in the US, it is realised the R&D impulse has become week, and also innovation needs to be at the forefront across SMEs which are key. So the US is looking to bump up the R&D to support the next wave (problematical-cash) and also enable SME startups with more direct cash. Because innovation can be done in any business and in any part of the value chain or cost of sales. Indeed with often much greater financial results than the sole technology approach. So depth, balance and breadth is coming to the US for innovation. Russian innovation needs to work with this modern model, which is the real state of the art. Innovation is broader than the laboratory, than the dev department. It is everywhere! Just thinking the Mecca can deliver is wrong, the whole industry has to evolve though natural need.
Every industry almost like a religeon benefits from a focal point, a Mecca, the main Cathedral.... This is the roll Silicon Valley plays. In hard fact US terms, actually less companies are started in Silicon Valley per population. Indeed others like New York... are right up there in innovative statups. But Silicon Valley does possess the magic, that magic is what I call peoples IPOs and the root of american prospecting, hard work and delivery culture. It is the spirit of American innovation
Now you can argue that you only need one Mecca in the world, and why not take a fund to California and make those guys work for us. But this is not perfect. What the idea is, is to create a focal point in Russia. A sort of Orthodox innovation church of our own. To create credibility, this focal point, Skolkova, must deliver IPOs and here I change (initial to Iconic) so its job is to create Iconic Public Offerings, 'simple' as that. Now these IcPO need the underlying research backbone, the strategic investments already talked about, but they are not limited to those fields, derivative innovation from other fields is certainly fine and to be encouraged. But regardless, the simple KPI for Skolkova is IcPO and IPO. Staistically VCs are the way to deliver IPOs
But also why is the US talking? well there is huge debate in our industry that the VC model is broken with poor returns, and that America is in an innovation crisis, a crisis born of lack of investment in R&D to enable the next wave of innovation, and a basic fact that they are broke. The American mafia and politicians have stolen all the cash. So what does Skolkova offer them - doesn't any business like outsourcing, doesn't America now need to leverage its cash to get the missing R&D. See there is no free lunch in this business. What Russia gets is less certain, yes a critical mass of culture will come, but everyone knows process capability takes time.
Skolkova is just the main cathedral and religeous training centre.
The probability to become rich by joining a startup is not bigger than by trading stocks (unless you work for a stock trading company), so why bother? One fellow, who worked like a dog in a pre-IPO company, managed to pass that stage, which was already a big achievement considering the number of failed startups, but when the company went public successfully and I've asked him if he became rich, he answered that he "was not a part of their financial success".
The big question is: why all those companies became rich and were able to make their employee's life so comfortable? There is no a single answer for this question, but I agree with Count Cash that investments to research (either by public or private investors) is the key. It's not true that there is no government money in it, e.g. I could recall a big debate between American conservators and liberals about government participation in stem cells research when it could cause human embryo destruction. The question was not about if government wants to participate or not, it was mostly about conditions of that participation. Historically, democrats were willing to spend more on research and that's probably why American economy was doing better under democrats than under republicans even if you exclude Great Depression.
I think, Medvedev does the right things, it's just not clear how much money will be stolen or wasted due incompetency and if Skolkovo will do better than Dubna, Zelenograd and Novosibirsk in a long run.
I think that Bogdanov and Michael presented only one side of Silly Valley's reality (hard working, gold digging, slavery, etc.) and I don't believe that this is the most common one. You can find any possible extreme in the Valley that can co-exist in very close proximity with another opposite extreme: it's enough to compare East and West Palo Alto, but in general, it's one of the most expensive region in the US and the reason for that is very simple - a lot of rich people decided to live here. It means that in general it's a great place to live and work.
What you do and where you work determines a lot though: if you want to dig the gold then you life can be easily fit to the dramatic profile described here by Bogdanov, if you don't upgrade your knowledge and area of expertise often to match the market demand than you can easily occur in a "boiled frogs" situation and it's probably the case that Michael described.
I think though that the majority of "hi-tech" people work in big well-established companies, are compensated very well, have great health benefits, stock options, RSU and employee stock purchase plans, 4 to 5 week vacation, sick days, flexible work time and good work-life balance (e.g. it's been a while since I worked more than 8 hr per day in my company).
I think, this is where Valley's wealth is mostly accumulated and where one can enjoy his or her life in full. If you ask any of those people to leave their current employer for a startup, they'll most likely just frown at you, at the same time the most thoughtful of them are constantly looking around trying to time the market needs, upgrade their skills and determine the next step in their career, which will be associated with another well-established company and not with a startup.
Sorry, but I have to quit this thread -- it takes efforts to work with the format suggested by the RT. And it drives me crazy.
But, at the end, I would like to add couple more items to the list of fallacies brewing in the head of Russians regarding Silicon Valley (in relation to Skolkovo).
a) Foreign leaders will lead to success.
It never happened before and will not happen now. All leading positions in Russian High-Tech efforts should belong to Russian citizens only (foreign origins are OK).
b) Scientists determine the success of the High-Tech hubs.
The reality -- the backbones and driving force of Silicon Valley are engineers and technicians. And not the scientists. Because, the end result should be physical products used by people willing to pay money for those. And not abstract ideas on the paper in the patent library or articles in the magazines.
The other fallacies which I listed previously and which we had chance to discuss include:
a) Russians are the best.
b) Silicon Valley can be build in any place.
c) The success is not possible without government involvement.
d) The high-tech should be carefully planned from the top.
It seems to me, that you are slightly misinformed about Silicon Valley. I mean - how it was created, what were the driving forces behind it, who and why created it, why it was born in that specific place and so on. As a result, you are making some wrong assumptions and conclusions. I would go and item by item to demonstrate your where you are wrong, but, unfortunately, the format of this blog (with its limitations imposed by the RT) doesn't allow to conduct normal discussion. So, I just skip it for better time.
I am afraid, that people who are designing Russian “Silicon Valley or Kremlin Valley” (I am quoting Medvedev) not fully qualified for this role. As a result, Russians will see the Frankenstein Valley, which will repeat the destiny of Zelenograd or “BAM” (“Baikalo-Amurskay a Magistral). It will exist, may, even, breathe, but will not create expected changes on the Russian technological horizon. Not in the way how Silicon Valley does it -- transforming life of Americans and people in other countries. It may be useful for Russian military. But, Russians will still have to buy the high-tech products designed and made abroad.
I love Russia and I want Russia to be the best country in the world. This is why I spend my time and givimg my warnings about the problems which I clearly see with this Skolkovo. For free. Because, some charlatans already making big money by advising the path the “land of lost”. But, specifically, my heart is bleeding when think about poor Russians (farmers, ...) whose money will be taken and never return back to them in any form.
The Silicon electronics in silicon valley would not even exist without the initial government drive in another material, government made institutions like MIT and companies outside Silicon Valley like TI. In fact Silicon Valley would be zero, zilch without the heavy lifting done by others. Yes Silicon Valley assembles buisiness infrastructure on a scaleable basis to persue adventures, but without the heavy lifting already done it would have been zero. That is the nature of the VC funding, to look at something that can be realised, with huge returns, in a relatively deterministic fashion, including timelining and finance. If it isn't then it ain't getting done, so if its going to happen, it will need to come from some ultimately government funded program, before being exploited.
Skolko va is correct in pumping in the much needed R&D money, the GDP percent raiser, and is also correct to benchmark this against and using state of the art outsiders - the Boeing and Ciscos of this world. For Boeing its very logical, they have been using expert Russian designers in Moscow for some time, because of their superior skills in optimising structures for easy manufacture. Interesting that Boeng has some 3 times the revenue of Google, because business is spread much wider than Silicon Valley in the US
Now the goal of Russia is to create a profitable innovative technological capable economy. The smart thíng about this is to realise that the type of innovation at hubs only forms part of an innovation portfolio. Yes you need that type of innovation, and you need it in all hubs, but the school of innovation, has moved on from that, and now understands and advocates that innovation needs applying across the board in industry and not just expected from specialist hubs. Indeed that approach is very old fashion,non optimal in profit, and limited in its ability to deliver an homogengenous innovation environment within a country. It may surprise people that Boeing does innovation.
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