Yesterday evening saw Silicon Valley’s arrival in that beautiful city of academia, cycling, student binge drinking and no speed cameras Oxford. Entrepreneurs took to the stage at Said Business School on each side of the argument: “Silicon Valley is dead; Long live Green Valley” at the Oxford Union.
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and commentator Mike Malone took the side of Silicon Valley, defending the “enduring and resilient phenomenon”. And it is still thriving because of its attitudes towards profitability, compared with the “utopian visions and government dreams” of green tech. “Most of these companies will never be profitable,” Malone said.
The argument heated as panelists went head to head. Oxford Professor Malcolm McCulloch, who is behind four clean technology companies, said that there can’t be a localised form of innovation: “It has to be global – it has to be for everybody, in every place.” Responding to Reid Hoffman, who lauded Silicon Valley for opportunities given to young hackers, McCulloch said: “Would you want a 17 year old hacker in charge of your light, or your food chain? Green needs PhDs; I would like to see a world where the best minds are not trying to invent the best games.”
Google was there too. And they’ll all be attending another event today, from 1pm onwards at the Said business school in Oxford, as the home of the Ashmolean and one of the world’s most prestigious universities “welcomes” Silicon Valley. We will be there.