An Ode to the Silicon Valley Entrepreneur

Over the centuries, the literary fox has been portrayed as the most clever, hungry and transformational character among his anthropomorphic brethren.  First appearing in the stories of Aesop over 2,500 years ago, foxes were either tricksters, flattering a crow’s beautiful singing voice in order to run away with the cheese that fell from the bird’s mouth; or masters of spin, most famously concluding that he never really wanted those unreachable grapes anyway, forever adding the term ‘sour grapes’ to our lexicon.  The fox’s reputation didn’t fare much better in the Middle Ages as the Reynard cycle, Chaucer and Machiavelli all helped perpetuate this anti-establishment stereotype across Europe. 

Ultimately, vulpine imagery began to evolve more positively.  By the 20th century, the fox had become the protector of the common man, as exemplified by the Robinhood-esque protagonist Zorro, whose name is Spanish for ‘fox’.  More recently, the fox has evolved into a heroic renegade, as portrayed by George Clooney in the movie ‘The Fantastic Mr. Fox’, outwitting the establishment and reinventing himself (‘pivoting’ in Silicon Valley parlance) as the story and environment around him change.  And most recently, the lyrical fox has achieved almost mythical status as depicted in Ylvis’s viral hit ‘What Does the Fox Say’ and even in the imagery of Taylor Swift’s ‘I Know Places’. 

All of which is an apt metaphor for the entrepreneurial characteristics that we celebrate here in Silicon Valley.  Much as the caricature of the fox has evolved over time, so has our perception of the value and the importance of those who disrupt, transform and build the world around us. 

When you consider that over the next decade … a billion more people will be connected worldwide to the internet; solar and other clean energy technologies will reach ‘grid parity’ with the cost of fossil fuels; immunotherapy and gene-editing will significantly impact our ‘health span’ and end some of our most debilitating diseases; that healthy human life may extend regularly past the 100 year mark; how autonomous self-driving vehicles and drones will change city landscapes and our productivity; that artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics will evolve and impact our lives as well as our global competitiveness; how the shared economy of cars, homes and services will optimize our resource consumption; and that the forward progress of space exploration will accelerate dramatically with the private commercialization of that industry - you realize that today’s innovators, which include Musk, Brin, Page, Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Bezos, Wojcicki, and many others rival the era of Einstein, Edison, Wright and Ford in channeling their ‘inner fox’ to bring a better future forward. 

While the negative geopolitical news of the day may obscure these incredible developments, it is important to recognize that we are living in a time of exponential change.  Yet, very few people fully appreciate the ramifications of what is coming to our lives over the next decade.  We at Sand Hill want to celebrate these breakthroughs in science and technology and to explore their longer-term impact on you and your family - as well as to your investment portfolio - which is why we are launching this new series for our newsletter.  Going forward, this space will be devoted to exploring these distinctly Silicon Valley achievements and we hope that you will enjoy our writing and distinct point of view. 

The world is changing for the better.  Humanity now has the ability and the ambition to reach for those ‘sour grapes’ and turn them into champagne.  And that is certainly worth celebrating.

This information has been developed internally and/or obtained from sources that Sand Hill Global Advisors, LLC (“SHGA”), believes to be reliable; however, SHGA does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of such information nor do we guarantee the appropriateness of any investment approach or security referred to for any particular investor. This material is provided for informational purposes only and is not advice or a recommendation for the purchase or sale of any security. This information reflects subjective judgments and assumptions, and unexpected events may occur. Therefore, there can be no assurance that developments will transpire as forecasted. This material reflects the opinion of SHGA on the date made and is subject to change at any time without notice. SHGA has no obligation to update this material. We do not suggest that any strategy described herein is applicable to every client of or portfolio managed by SHGA. In preparing this material, SHGA has not taken into account the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any particular person. Before making an investment decision, you should consider, with or without the assistance of a professional advisor, whether the information provided in this material is appropriate in light of your particular investment needs, objectives and financial circumstances. Transactions in securities give rise to substantial risk and are not suitable for all investors. No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied, or duplicated in any form, by any means, or (ii) redistributed without the prior written consent of SHGA.