Tue07222014

News

Q&A with Anne Wojcicki: 23andMe founder, local resident discusses Los Altos investments

Q&A with Anne Wojcicki: 23andMe founder, local resident discusses Los Altos investments


Anne Wojcicki

For the past several years, Anne Wojcicki (Wo-JIT-skee) has been quietly involved in efforts to spruce up downtown Los Altos. She and her husband, Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin, helped form Passerelle Investment Co., which own...

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Schools

Foothill fall registration opens Monday

Local residents interested in earning a specialized career certificate, associate degree or updated job skills can enroll beginning Monday when Foothill College opens fall registration.

In addition to its continuing-education courses, the college pr...

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Community

Sports

Stewart accepts job as baseball coach at Los Altos High

Stewart accepts job as baseball coach at Los Altos High


Los Altos High administrators offered Gabe Stewart the job of head baseball coach at Los Altos High even before he could apply for it.

“They approached me – they wanted an on-campus coach,” said Stewart, an AP History teacher at ...

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Comment

A good start – now follow through: Editorial

The recent announcement of a five-year agreement between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School is welcome relief for the entire community. After years of dispute and litigation, the pact is nothing short of a minor miracle.

Among t...

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Business

In the business of fostering business

In the business of fostering business


took over as Los Altos’ new economic development coordinator in May after spending the past two years working as city assistant planner. Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier

Sierra Davis is wearing a slightly different hat these days as a Los Altos cit...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

GORDON E. BRANDT

GORDON E. BRANDT

In May of 2014, Gordon E. Brandt passed away after a one and one half year battle with Lymphoma. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.

Gordon was born in Los Angeles, CA on July 13, 1930. He graduated from Fremont High School in 19...

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Travel

British Columbia: Richmond, Steveston, Victoria hold surprises

British Columbia: Richmond, Steveston, Victoria hold surprises


Courtesy of Tourism Richmond
Shops, restaurants and museums dot the boardwalk in British Columbia’s Steveston, a great site for strolling.

Picturesque British Columbia has long been on our bucket list, and we recently fulfilled that dream.

We...

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Stepping Out

LA Youth Theatre, LA Stage Company join forces for 'Oz'

LA Youth Theatre, LA Stage Company join forces for 'Oz'


Joyce Goldschmid/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of “The Wizard of Oz” includes, clockwise from top left, Dana Levy (as Tinman), Rebecca Krieger (Cowardly Lion), Sarah Traina (Scarecrow) and Osher Fein (Dorothy).

Los Altos Youth Theatre and L...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford students study religion through campus artifacts

The inscriptions inside Memorial Church, the death mask of Jane Stanford and the nod to the Egyptian ankh symbol formed by Palm Drive and the Stanford Oval all have one thing in common: Each was a topic of discussion for the students enrolled in a un...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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LAH resident shares ‘Secrets of Silicon Valley’ in new book


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Sometimes it takes an outsider to accurately describe and shed light on the environment you live in or assume that you know extremely well.

Such is the case with “Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Else Can Learn from the Innovation Capital of the World” (Palgrave McMillan, 2013), Los Altos Hills entrepreneur Deborah Perry Piscione’s exploration of the unique culture of the epicenter of high-tech.

I have lived in Silicon Valley for 30 years, but there were plenty of things I learned from the book.

To be fair, many people, places and events described in the book are familiar, but Perry Piscione has done her homework well. After relocating to the area from the East Coast with her husband and two small children in 2006, she was surprised to discover a very different environment and culture from the one she left behind. Working in Washington, D.C., for example, Perry Piscione noted that “you need to be schooled in the art of war. … I knew no other way – until I moved to the innovation capital of the world.”

The author contends that 10 primary ingredients combine to make Silicon Valley so innovative. She devotes chapters to each of the components, among them: Stanford University, a population of highly motivated people (many of whom are highly educated immigrants), a continual cycle of innovation, the unique qualities of entrepreneurs here, a very different concept of the traditional business model and a different breed of investors.

Then there are softer, less-tangible factors, including services such as the prevalence of startup-friendly law and design firms, high-quality but casual dining establishments, a pleasant lifestyle and the advantages of being raised in such a milieu.

What may be new to readers are some of the anecdotes and details behind the big players. I didn’t know, for example, that Larry Page of Google fame first shopped the concept of applying ranking to Internet searches to a senior associate at Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing – and failed to spark much interest from other local search engine companies. Nor was I aware of the backstory of RPX, a company founded in 2008 to pool resources and proactively buy patents before they could be purchased by nonpracticing entities – often called “patent trolls” – who “exist for the sole purpose of enforcing patents against operating companies,” according to Perry Piscione.

“Secrets of Silicon Valley” also includes a smattering of fun stories about local residents who have experienced success such as Sandra Kurtzig, founder of ASK Computer Systems, and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX and chairman of SolarCity.

And there are tales of service providers willing to do business a little differently, including Egon Zehnder International, a head-hunting firm that has placed numerous Silicon Valley women on corporate boards, and Y Combinator, a technology incubator in Mountain View that provides startups with mentorship, advice, introductions and, in many cases, seed funding.

Perry Piscione addresses if and how the success of Silicon Valley could be replicated in other states or countries. She notes that several places are poised to pose some real competition, including Israel, China and Chile.

Anyone with an interest in reading about the roots of Silicon Valley’s success should enjoy the book, including those who live in the area and those who may want to re-create it elsewhere. History buffs will enjoy the richness of detail, as will those who participate in nonfiction book clubs.

Longtime Mountain View resident Leslie Ashmore belongs to two book clubs.

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