Silicon Valley Exodus

Last month, The New York Times published a story on the growing discontent among innovators in Silicon Valley and their search for greener pastures elsewhere. Although it’s probably an overstatement to say that “Silicon Valley is Over” — as the NYT sensationally wrote in the headline of their story — the case for leaving the Valley is becoming more compelling than ever, and it appears that some entrepreneurs and investors are catching on.

The idea that true innovation can’t succeed outside of Silicon Valley has become accepted as the holy truth. To be sure, the link between Silicon Valley and venture success is difficult to deny. According to a recent report, the Silicon Valley area still receives the most venture investment, accruing over $27 billion in 2015 alone, which accounts for nearly half of the total venture capital invested in the U.S. that year.

Harvard Business Review attributes the success of Silicon Valley companies to cultural qualities such as audacity, “grit,” strong leadership, collaboration, flexible work schedules, and strict attention to user-centered design. Yet these qualities are not limited to geography and can ultimately be reproduced anywhere. This realization that the Valley doesn’t have a monopoly on innovation has driven many — from high-profile investors to engineers in the field — to search out new frontiers for building the next technologies for the 21st century. But what’s wrong with the Valley?

Certainly, the most obvious answer is the cost of living. Business leaders and residents alike are increasingly buckling under longer traffic commutes, inflated property costs, and a steep housing shortage. While companies such as Facebook and Google have attempted to address the housing crisis by expanding their campuses to include low-income complexes, the move has largely been blocked so far by regulatory battles with local government and has been met with dissatisfaction from community residents who see it as an inadequate response from the culprits of the housing crunch.

The increasing pay scale has also proven difficult for employers to keep up with. Programmers and engineers might earn a median salary of $50,000 on average in the United States, but at companies in the Valley, like Facebook or Google, it could reach “triple or quadruple that amount.” As a result, many employers have expressed the desire to outsource to satellite offices in more affordable areas.

Another common complaint is the increasingly “homogenous” culture in the Bay Area. “There is a mono-conversation of tech that is near impossible to avoid,” says Tim Ferris, author and angel investor who recently relocated to Austin. Ferris and others are finding that although engineers, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs are commonplace, little else is represented in the way of diverse employment.

There is growing dissatisfaction with a lack of intellectual diversity in what some call a “left-wing echo chamber that stifles opposing views.” Many in the Bay Area are “feeling increasingly squeezed by what they perceive to be liberal groupthink,” writes one reporter for The Guardian. This at least partly contributes to why some investors, such as Peter Thiel, have elected to leave the Valley to seek a broader range of mindsets.

Whatever the reasons, Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Seattle-based Redfin, believes that the exodus from expensive coastal cities to cheaper inland locations is actually good for the country as a whole. “You shouldn’t have that many people making so much money in just a few cities. It should spread to the rest of the country.”

Alternative tech hubs offer a way of living that lends itself to innovation. Smaller, more intimate communities tend to drive deeper support structures, breeding excitement for each new success. While much of Silicon Valley is racing to be part of a unicorn, innovators elsewhere are simply hungry to make a difference.

The allure of tech jobs in the Bay Area is still undeniably strong. But, as blockchain engineer and entrepreneur Preethi Kasireddy reminds us: “Silicon Valley is just one way of living… [T]echnology is global, engineering is global, innovation is global and entrepreneurship is global.”

4 Thought Leaders on Tech in Healthcare

Modern healthcare is continuously being shaped by big data, artificial intelligence, and a slew of other digital technologies. As these technologies mature, they will transform the patient experience by enabling personalized treatments and reduce the workload for physicians with automation, affecting everything from medical imaging, to management of chronic diseases, to primary care. Today’s thought leaders from across industries agree that technology is poised to make a huge impact on healthcare. Here are what leaders from payor systems, technology companies, and healthcare providers are saying about the latest technology in healthcare today.

On Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence

“[D]eployed systems from our team and from AI efforts by colleagues employ machine learning and reasoning to help doctors to understand patient outcomes—in advance of poor outcomes. There’s a great deal of low-hanging fruit where even today’s AI technologies are well positioned to help. Sticking with healthcare for a bit, a recent study showed that nearly 1,000 people per day are dying in the US because of preventable errors being made in hospitals. I believe that AI technologies could be employed to provide new kinds of safety nets, via error detection, alerting, and decision support, that could save hundreds of thousands of lives per year.”

Eric Horvitz, Technical Fellow & Director at Microsoft Research Labs

On Wearables

“Thanks to technologies such as remote monitoring and telehealth, we’ll see people get a lot more care from home… [This will] offer patients greater independence, improved convenience, and new opportunities to tailor treatments to their personal needs…The technology also empowers doctors to prescribe a personalized set of tools for each individual’s needs. Patients now can manage their health at home and in the workplace, while caregivers and care coordinators are armed with critical information that can help people stay healthy.

The next step in wearables will be to make them relevant to people who wouldn’t normally use them. The opportunity lies in how wearables, big data and artificial intelligence come together to offer solutions that improve the quality of care, and how we as marketers can foster greater adoption of these tools.”

David Edelman, Chief Marketing Officer at Aetna

On Digitization & Precision Medicine

“During my conversations with customers and partners about healthcare, precision medicine and SAP’s connected health strategy continue to be top of mind. Digitization in healthcare addresses the need to run simple (by turning big data into smart data), the need to run with data (by breaking down the information silos) and the need to run in real-time (through the capacity to visualize relevant results within seconds, instead of hours).”

Dr. C. Suter Crazzolara, VP Product Manager for Health and Precision Medicine at SAP

On Big Data

“Over the last decade, there has been growing enthusiasm for data analytics as well as growing appreciation of the potential usefulness of so-called big data in transforming personal care, clinical care and public health, and related research. Both the public and private health sectors are investing in the technologies and analytical capabilities needed to unlock the full value of big data. For governments that are interested in using such data, a natural starting point is to link national health-care data sets, to facilitate in-depth analysis of the performance and utilization of health service. At the institutional level, the analysis of electronic health records map greatly expand the capacity to generate new knowledge by creating an observational evidence base to help resolve clinical questions. Analysis of big data is already proving critical in building accurate models of disease progression and providing personalized medicine in clinical practice. It has also facilitated the evaluation of the impact of health policies and improved the efficiency of clinical trials. By encouraging patients to participate in their own care, delivering personalized information and integrating medicine with behavioural determinants of health, the integration of electronic health records with personal data from other sources, e.g. medical devices, wearable devices, sensors and tools based on virtual reality, could also be very beneficial.

John Brownstein, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital