In attendance and speaking on a panel about local challenges and regional solutions were San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan – leaders of the three largest cities in the Silicon Valley. Joining them for the discussion were Andy Ball, CEO, Webcor Builders and Jay Glasscock, President, BD Biosciences.
In the discussion, Mayor Lee said regional cooperation and collaboration are required for the entire valley to succeed. “Our approach to regionalism is alike – we have to do everything better to build our future, which is a global economy. We are now competing against London and Sydney – we’ve got to be on the edge,” said Mayor Lee. Added Mayor Reed, “CEOs, please give us the chance to keep your businesses in the Silicon Valley.”
Jon Iwata provided an outlook on the future of IT while highlighting 100 years of innovation at IBM. “Beginning with clocks, scales and cheese slicers, invention is a part of our history,” Iwata explained. “But there is a difference between introducing obviously superior technology and the additional work of building the trust and confidence of policyholders and stakeholders; we have to take them from the past to the future.”
Jon said IBM's vision of the future is rooted in the swarms of data that we are surrounded with today. “We need analytical tools to make sense of data. We are seeing what’s happening in our companies, in our markets, in our supply chains, our cities and our grids – analytics is the first step to optimization.”
Watson visits California
Watson’s first-ever trip to the west coast made a big splash at the event. In its first demonstration in California, packaged into a brilliant interactive touch screen display, Watson received one-on-one attention from the Governor, the Mayors and several event participants.
IBM Distinguished Engineer Steve Welch and Master Inventor Dan Gruhl demonstrated Watson's capabilities and offered up individual matches to onlookers. The DeepQA system, recognized for its ability to rapidly analyze the meaning and context of human language unlike any computer before it, is now being developed to apply those capabilities in the healthcare industry. In addition, Watson was recently ranked #9 in TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential things in the world. “Technologies like Watson are essential in the area of big data,” Jon said. “It’s the convergence of technological innovation and decision making.”
Governor Brown remarks
In the final panel, “Strengthening California’s Economy, Budget & Business Climate,” moderator Barbara Marshman of the San Jose Mercury News immediately addressed Governor Brown the state budget. When asked how the 300 Silicon Valley executives in this room help develop a stronger economy, Governor Brown replied, “That’s very elusive. How do you do that? I wouldn’t task you with that, I can take care of that.” He continued by saying, “When you talk about California, you have venture capital, innovation, great universities. Finding ways to collaborate is very positive.”
Next to Governor Brown on stage were Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, SunPower CEO Tom Werner and Applied Materials CEO Mike Splinter, who all agreed about the need for K-12 education to prepare children to be gainfully employed in a global economy. Governor Brown commented, “Education is about the presence of teachers and students – that is a relationship. At the end of the day we have to ensure that the kids are inspired. Teachers have to model a certain way of being that we want our students to learn from.”
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, founded in 1978 by David Packard of Hewlett-Packard, represents more than 340 of Silicon Valley's most respected employers on issues, programs and campaigns that affect the economic health and quality of life in Silicon Valley, including energy, transportation, education, housing, health care, tax policies, economic vitality and the environment. Leadership Group members collectively provide nearly one of every three private sector jobs in Silicon Valley. For more information, visit svlg.org
During the event, the SVLG released the CEO Business Climate Survey, which was completed by 175 CEO’s; and Silicon Valley Bank’s Startup Outlook, which was completed by 375 executives from private startup and high growth, U.S.-based technology and life science companies.
Pictures of the event can be viewed here. (Credit: John Day)