Category Archives: Silicon Valley

Living in Palo Alto before the Internet?!

Living in Palo Alto before the Internet?!

Inspired by a Quora question, naturally (embedded below):

What was it like to live in Palo Alto before 1990?

Despite its cozy, symbiotic relationship with Stanford University‘s computer science and engineering pioneers that stretched back decades, Palo Alto was much less monolithically tech-focused before the commercial Internet explosionInternet explosion of the 1990s. It formed the northern terminus of Silicon Valley back then (no, really; San Francisco was almost an afterthought to the tech community).

While it was never quite as far out there as Berkeley, Palo Alto had a strong utopian flower-child streak. I knew kids named Oak and Sparrow.
Tonier than its South Bay neighbors such as Mountain View and Sunnyvale, it was pleasantly upper-middle-class, yet not “wealthy” on the whole (that would be Atherton or Los Altos Hills), housing a disproportionate number of educated professionals of all kinds — including many Stanford faculty, of course. (Professors and their families really lived in those beautiful homes of Professorville.)

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“AirB&E” and Crisis Management for Consumer Internet Companies

Much has been written about the cooperative nature of Valley culture, and Airbnb itself was an outgrowth of the idealistic “couch surfing” movement. As with any online community, well-meaning early adopters arrive first, and if all goes well, a culture of respect evolves that keeps behavior within relatively civilized boundaries. The trouble comes when a site becomes wildly successful, going from 1,000 closed beta members to 1,000,000 users. As it grows, any service will come to resemble a diverse cross-section of the general population, with the full range of human misconduct represented. Continue Reading

Silicon Valley After the Dot-Com Crash of 2001

Silicon Valley After the Dot-Com Crash of 2001

After the last ops and engineering staff were laid off, I remember wandering through the cavernous, deserted NOC, strewn with assorted equipment that was left to be carted off to auction, looking up at the huge projection screens that forlornly flickered “No Signal.” It felt downright post-apocalyptic, with huge diesel generators out back standing ready to provide backup power to a NOC and data center that no longer needed it. Continue Reading

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