Something is stirring in Silicon Valley again. I drive around and still see a lot of empty commercial lots in the industrial area where I work. Even still, larger new buildings are being built around me. Even weirder, the lunch crowd is becoming larger. I’ve been noticing this slow change over the past 6 months or so. Where lines at the local Togos and Subway used to be easy to get through, they are now extending well out the shop door. More people are starting to work in the area. The job market looks like it’s starting to pick up.
The old days of semi-conductor giants springing up over night are gone.Â The dot-com boom-bust is long over.Â The new industries of the valley are Biotech and Solar. Solar is starting to take off so fast that a new nickname for the valley might end up being Solar Valley. Biotech is growing rapidly too. It’s contribution is a little more dispersed thoughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Either way, you cannot throw a rock without hitting someone that is currently working in either of those fields.Â That said, semi-conductor is still King.Â You can’t pick up a rock to throw without bumping into someone working in the semi-conductor industry.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that the business casual guys are back. These are the slightly older guys that wear slacks and shirts that make them look like they just stepped out of a Leave It To Beaver episode.Â They are filling the lunch lines with their open discussions of confidential information about their new jobs.
Speaking of confidential conversations in public, late last year I overhead this one group of younger guys.Â They were dressed up a bit in the way that younger guys dress up (all name brand clothes, but not well coordinated). Anyway, they were going in to very exact detail about the technology of their start-up Biotech company. Let’s just say I understood what they were talking about. I heard so much that the only thing I needed to make their information useful was to know their company name. I tried and failed to catch a glimpse of their door badges (which foolishly had theirÂ company logo printed on them).Â Â I think they figured out I was eavesdropping at that point, so they smartened up. They really shouldn’t have been talking about the proprietary matters in line at a sandwich shop in the first place.
The lull in the crowds and traffic was nice while it lasted. It looks like we have another boom cycle getting ready to take off as soon as the economy turns more favorable.