Sunday, December 13, 2009

Not so secret SV leaders

The lead story on the Merc Sunday blared

10 Silicon Valley Superstars*

*who you’ve never heard of
[by] Chris O’Brien
The ten names:
I liked the premise of the story — there are some movers and shakers that most people haven’t heard of, and that people should know more about them. However, I don’t think they’re quite so unknown. Fortunately, the online version has the same content without the misleading headline.

I’ve met three of them. I can’t imagine anyone who’s done anything in open source who hasn’t heard of Tim O’Reilly and his publishing house; he also popularized the term “Web 2.0.” While I’ve heard his speeches, we only met briefly at a social event after an open source trade show (probably OSBC 2004 or an early LinuxWorld).

I also can’t imagine there are many active in the tech industry who haven’t heard of Vish Mishra and TiE. In my case, he’s a friend of a friend (one of my co-workers), but actually I first met him in 2005 when he took my picture with then-CEO Irwin Jacobs of Qualcomm.

OK, the third one is a fluke. I happened to sit at the same table as Kevin Surace earlier this fall, and when I got home, the more I learned about his company the more serious it appeared to be. I’ve since blogged on the company and interviewed Surace for my study of local cleantech companies.

Overall, I thought it was an interesting list, and O’Brien communicates a few interesting points about each in a small amount of space.

However, as someone who spends most of his days with students and college professors — not wandering Silicon Valley — I’d bet that most of the Merc’s readers who work in the tech industry have met 2 or 3 of these “never heard of” types. But as a former reporter, I’d be inclined to blame the copy editor for the exaggerated headline, since O’Brien makes no similar claims in the body of the article.

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