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Thank You, Stanford

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As I submitted my last final exam of my Stanford career, I took a moment to reflect on my time at Stanford.

I came in with a view, a voice, and a dream.  I’m leaving with a view, a voice, and a dream.  The difference is the magnitude, depth, sophistication, and (hopefully) unbounded potential of that view, voice and dream.

While I learned a fair bit from the classroom, my Stanford experience was made outside the classroom.  The stories, the perspectives, and the nuances in people’s lives.  The way people analyze, persuade, and persist.  The reasons people do things, the reasons people don’t, and the reasons people want to.  I’ve come out not with a knowledge of the solutions, but with a knowledge of the problems and challenges that we as a society face—and a better understanding for many of their reasons.

But perhaps the most important thing I learned—or, should I say, experienced—was not what to think.  I learned how to think.  I learned how to learn.

Thank you, Stanford, for one of the most profound experiences of my life.

Written by sheeltyle

June 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Posted in Stanford

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New York City Innovation

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When we think of where innovation happens in the USA, there is no question that Silicon Valley comes to mind first. But it looks like Mayor Bloomberg – with the help of Stanford, entrepreneurs, and various VC firms – may make it so New York City comes to mind second, in front of the Kendall Square/Cambridge area and Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

Mayor Bloomberg came and spoke at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research yesterday. His talk/argument on why NYC is and could be a great hub for innovation included:

  • NYC is America’s largest college town, with over 600,000 students.  Many universities are under renovation and expansion, including Columbia’s new biomedical research campus.
  • New York has significant unused waterfront, warehouses, and old tracks on the west side of Manhattan.  With subway construction planned there, it could help attract a wave of innovative companies.
  • The NYC Entrepreneurial Fund will pair private VC dollars with public government dollars to help jumpstart innovation – the first public/private pseudo-VC of its kind in any major city.
  • Incubator programs, which will help researchers and innovators commercialize their technology, have been created in a range of industries.

The big downside of NYC is the lack of technical talent.  A good engineer can live in Silicon Valley and never have to move for the rest of his life irrespective of acquisitions, failings, and buyouts, but only a great engineer can do the same in a place like New York.  While there are some great early startups in New York (Hunch, Etsy, Foursquare, etc.), the number isn’t nearly as high as Silicon Valley.

I’m hoping that this changes with the increased focus on entrepreneurship, the possibility of a Startup Visa, and the influx of investment dollars from existing VC firms opening NYC offices (like Accel) and from traditional investment banks trying their hand in later stage venture capital (like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase).  Oh, and Stanford potentially opening a graduate R&D and innovation “lab” for information technology in NYC wouldn’t hurt either.

Written by sheeltyle

March 12, 2011 at 9:00 am