16:36 | 14.10.16 | Articles | exclusive 24805

Ronald Weissman talks specifics of Silicon Valley

These days Yerevan hosts Ronald Weissman, President of Band of Angels, one of the oldest seed investments companies in Silicon Valley. He will take part in the Silicon Valley UNLEASHED: Inside Tech’s Greatest Minds event, organized by the HIVE Seed Fund, which will take place on October 15 in Yerevan.

Ron Weissman gave a lecture in Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University yesterday. Itel.am attended the lecture and took down some interesting thoughts.

On ideas and mistakes

Silicon Valley produces only one thing. It’s not machines or oil, but ideas, intellectual property. “Three men and a dog” can start a company in Silicon Valley, if they have a good idea.

In Silicon Valley you don’t get punished for making a mistake. One of Silicon Valley stars often tells their employees, “You can be wrong, but you have no right to be wrong all the time”.

Silicon Valley networking is an intense culture. Only a few people are locals, the majority moved there. It’s not strange there for an engineer to go to work at 2 a.m.

On loyalty

There is no loyalty in Silicon Valley. No one wants to spend their life working on a big company. Of course, most companies offer a contract that prohibits you from working for competing companies, but that doesn’t stop people from changing jobs, because by California laws the company can’t sue you even if you do work for their competitors. In reality, people change their jobs all the time.

On solving important problems

I can say that 99 out of 100 companies in Silicon Valley work with serious matters, but you can meet paradoxes too sometimes. We created leading technologies, but what do we do with them? For instance, an American company recently delivered burritos by drones. We should ask a question, “Are we focused on solving important problems?”

On Steve Jobs

I worked with Steve Jobs for many years. It took Steve a long time to become the person everyone knew. He passed away one of these days five years ago, and on the day of his death Apple became the most valuable company in the history.

Steve was convinced that if you found a company, you should think globally. And if you aren’t going to make something revolutionary, don’t make anything at all.

For years Steve failed, he almost destroyed Apple, and then he created a new computer, which was bought by Apple. Luck “surrounded” Steve only during the last years of his life; before that he suffered failures and learned from his own mistakes. He would often say, “Do not be afraid to kill your own products”.

On Elon Musk

There is a theory in Silicon Valley that we live in a machine, we are part of a simulation, we do not live in fact, and we are not human beings, that everything is programmed from the future. Elon Musk spends millions of dollars to determine how to get out of that metrics.

On trends

There are lots problems nowadays: it is difficult for startups to get investments and for venture funds to find resources.

There is a prediction that 90 % of startups, developing in the incubator, will fail.

Nevertheless, if this balloon explodes one day, everything will not be as bad as in 2000s, when failures of small companies would have serious influence on American economy.

This is a transitional generation; we have resources coming in, mostly from India and China. There is a need for idea outsource from other countries.

Artificial intelligence and robotics are the hottest directions, which attract millions of dollars of investment. Self-driving cars also develop faster than was expected. Virtual reality too is one of the fastest developing branches.
Food is a comparatively new direction; startups try to create technologies for healthy food processing.  

Narine Daneghyan wrote down Ronald Weissman’s thoughts