Very nice special report in The Economist (sub required) = thanks to Dr. Russell Fricano for bringing to my attention
“Digital startups are bubbling up in an astonishing variety of services and products, penetrating every nook and cranny of the economy. They are reshaping entire industries and even changing the very notion of the firm. “Software is eating the world,” says Marc Andreessen, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.
This digital feeding frenzy has given rise to a global movement. Most big cities, from Berlin and London to Singapore and Amman, now have a sizeable startup colony (“ecosystem”). Between them they are home to hundreds of startup schools (“accelerators”) and thousands of co-working spaces where caffeinated folk in their 20s and 30s toil hunched over their laptops. All these ecosystems are highly interconnected, which explains why internet entrepreneurs are a global crowd. Like medieval journeymen, they travel from city to city, laptop not hammer in hand. A few of them spend a semester with “Unreasonable at Sea”, an accelerator on a boat which cruises the world while its passengers code. “Anyone who writes code can become an entrepreneur—anywhere in the world,” says Simon Levene, a venture capitalist in London.”
Its range of investments is surprisingly broad. You'd expect Google Ventures to bet on business software, mobile apps, and gadgets like smart thermostat company Nest, which it has. But Foundation and SynapDx, which is developing a blood test for early detection of autism? Or Cool Energy Systems, which aims to produce fuels based on plant photosynthesis in a process that removes carbon from the atmosphere? It has also made bets in education, finance, and robotics companies that have nothing to do with search or Android. "Most of the world's innovation doesn't happen at Google," says David Drummond, Google's senior vice president of corporate development, who oversees Google Ventures. "We have the capability to use our money, our time, our effort, our expertise, our brain power, and the Google brand to help build great companies, that's a worthwhile thing to do."
A few years ago Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers realized that he needed to prepare a counterattack to the growing threat of software-defined networking, a new kind of technology that allowed companies to control networks using software, rather than the high-end routers and switches that Cisco built its name on
With billions of dollars in company coffers, Chambers could have acquired a startup to get in the game. He also could have asked some of the thousands of engineers employed by his company to tackle the project. Instead, he elected to persuade several semiretired Cisco executives to leave their lives of leisure and take on, as the archetypal plot of so many action films suggests, one last job.
Inc magazine has a nice gallery on how the Gold Rush, IBM, space and nuclear programs, Celestial Seasonings, Amgen, and now the Pot economy have shaped the town with “the most high-tech start-ups per capita in the nation”
Nicholas Shea, a Stanford MBA and a dual U.S.-Chilean citizen, began this program in 2010, when he realized that there were no viable visa options for the Chilean friends he wanted to start a company with in Silicon Valley. Since 2010, the Start-up Chile program has awarded over 1,000 startup visas and millions of dollars of funding to those who win the country’s business plan competition.
Although the program is very competitive and it’s difficult to win one of these Chilean startup visas, the lucky winners are treated to a first class incubation program. Under the watchful eye of current director Horacio Melo, they are showered with attention, mentoring, business development guidance, non-stop networking opportunities, and access to potential investors.
The current group includes entrepreneurs from all over the world, including India, Australia, Canada, Greece, France, the U.S., and of course Chile. Their business concepts run the gamut: e-commerce, software, mobile and wireless, social media, medical devices. and more. Some of the visa winners are seasoned businesspeople and some are young, first-time entrepreneurs with a great business concept. While the group is very diverse, they uniformly seem to feel great appreciation for the program and the opportunities the Chilean government is providing to them.
Impressive what Loic and team have delivered since 2004
"On this stage we have hosted technology icons, Heads of State, world famous designers and visionaries, all with the goal of creating a community where entrepreneurs can come together, share experiences and inspire each other to create."