Fun visit to Silicon Valley

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 12:00am

The aroma of fresh coffee, soft pillows and the latest models of desktops - welcome to the land of innovative computer software, cutting edge Web sites and, yes, surprises.

At Silicon Valley, success comes with not capital but calibre. But if you think those who succeed in this extremely competitive environment are arrogant - think again. A dozen of visits to computer technology companies have confirmed that these young and intelligent executives are as down-to-earth as they come.

I was fortunate enough to have met some of them during a recent visit to Silicon Valley. The trip was the grand prize of a Web site competition jointly organised by the Business and Services Promotion Unit (BSPU) of the Commerce and Industry Bureau and the South China Morning Post in February.

The delegation comprised the 10 competition winners, representatives from the BSPU and the SCMP, and a teacher.

Our visit, from June 25 to July 4, took us to 10 top technology companies in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. Their business ranges from networking, software development, Web-site design to electronic games. We also visited the famous Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre and Intel Museum.

Apart from visiting big names such as Cisco Systems, Macromedia and Electronic Arts, participants also met information technology (IT) professionals. Many of them were Chinese - some native born and others from Hong Kong and the mainland - who work for start-ups such as e21 Corp, Everything4MDs and Data Centre.

Indeed, the multi-cultural nature of Silicon Valley was truly reflected by the number of languages spoken during our trip - Korean, Tagalog and Putonghua - just to name a few.

Of course, this trip was not all work and no fun. We visited touristy spots such as Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco as well as Universal Studio, Disneyland and Santa Monica in Los Angeles.