Thu09182014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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


Photo By:

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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