What is Silicon Valley?

Apple Campus in Cupertino, CA. Editorial credit: Uladzik Kryhin / Shutterstock.com
Apple Campus in Cupertino, CA. Editorial credit: Uladzik Kryhin / Shutterstock.com

Silicon Valley is a moniker for the south region of the San Francisco Bay Area in California. It is in Santa Clara Valley and has expanded to encompass parts of Gilroy and the East Bay. The region has the name “silicon” due to the high number of companies that manufactured silicon chips in the past. Presently, there are numerous high-tech companies located in the valley.

The high influx of the technology companies gave the name two meanings. One of the meanings referring to its geographical aspect as a valley and the other to refer to a region with plenty of high-tech firms. Similar regions in the world also use that name.


Silicon Valley as an idea was conceived around the time of the Great Depression. William Hewlett and David Packard, with the aid of their professor at Stanford University, Frederick Terman, went on ahead and started the technology giant, Hewlett Packard (Hp) in 1938.

As much as most credit goes to Hp as the pioneers of Silicon Valley, it would not have been possible for the valley to exist without Fredrick Terman. The professor set up the Stanford Industrial Park which leased land and helped with research for the first organizations in the park which was fuelled by the internet.


The firms in the region have created numerous jobs. In 2006, there were 225,300 jobs created which were all technology-related. The average salary for these jobs is also the highest at $144,800. As a result, the region and its surroundings have the most millionaires and billionaires as a result of technology. In addition, Silicon Valley is the largest region in the US on the subject of high-tech production. In 2011, 41% of all venture capital in the US went to the region while it was 46% in 2012. Consequently, more companies are starting branches in the region. The high number of jobs has exceeded the number of homes leading to a severe housing shortage.


Estimates place the population of the region at between 3.5 and 4 million. As of 1999, studies show that a third of engineers were immigrants. Around one quarter of high technology firms have been run by individuals from China since 1980.

Interesting Facts

The valley was called the Valley of Death at some point because of the panic created by technology taking human jobs. Also, there are thirty cities in the valley with five universities including the backbone university of the valley, Stanford University.

Thousands of technology firms in the world have their headquarters in the valley, 39 of which are Fortune 1,000 companies. Diversity is a problem for the firms in the region with 8.8% of them with women CEOs. The total profit from the region is estimated at a whopping $250 billion.


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