Author Archives: Carl Guardino

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot: Eleven Years Later

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November 18  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino
race dir of the year

Carl Guardino named 2015 MarathonFoto/Road Race Management Race Director of the Year.

Here’s food for thought . . . Most of us don’t give a second thought to where our next meal will come from.

But for a quarter million people who live in Silicon Valley, affording food, or shelter, or health care, is a daily concern.

To help those in need, and build community and begin our holidays in a fun and healthy way – 11 years ago my wife Leslee and I did something many entrepreneurs do in Silicon Valley . . . we took a risk: We founded the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, which I direct.

First, we found our form of venture capital. Thanks to Joe Pon and Applied Materials, we secured a title sponsor who shared our vision.

Second, we created advisors, with an executive steering committee of sponsors and partners who believed in the mission.

Third, we marketed to potential customers – race participants – who would carve out time on Thanksgiving morning before carving their turkey, to participate in our 5K, 10K or Kids Fun Run.

Four, we looked for successful charities serving our community that would benefit from the proceeds of the Turkey Trot – charities that help with health, hope and a home.

That first year was scary. A week before the race we had only a couple of hundred registrations. Then, on race morning, we were deluged with hundreds of walk-on registrations, and ended up with 1,900 paid participants, raising $88,000 for local charities helping neighbors in need.

Since 2012 – year 9 of our Turkey Trot – we have been the largest timed Turkey Trot in the world. This year, we are stretching ourselves to attract 28,000 paid participants, so that we can donate $1 million to help even more in need in our Valley.

You and your family can help us achieve that goal. All you need to do is sign up, and show up. Please start with step one today, sign up at

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It’s time for Version 2.0

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November 5  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . In Silicon Valley, when a product or service doesn’t succeed, it’s time for “Version 2.0.”

Such is the case before our San José City Council on Tuesday, November 10, at 1:30pm, when the Council considers a new pilot project that to allow ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber to pick-up passengers at Mineta San José International Airport. The Council passed a “pilot program” in June, but its onerous provisions precluded any rideshare company from participating. To its credit, the Council has sought a modified pilot program, much more in-line with the stringent but consistent requirements mandated at 25 other airports and nearly 300 cities across the country.

As you can imagine, the incumbent taxicab industry is fighting such market-competition tooth and nail. Their latest gambit is public safety. Let’s dissect that argument. Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber provide well over 2 million rides in the U.S. each week. If even one percent of those rides were unsafe, that would be 20,000 incidents or accidents every single week. But perhaps the taxi industry thinks it’s only one-tenth of 1 percent that are unsafe. Then we would be reading news reports of 2,000 incidents or accidents each week. But maybe the taxi lobbyists only mean one-hundredth of 1 percent are unsafe – but then we would be reading news reports about 200 incidents or accidents each week, 52 weeks per year.

So let’s really talk safety, accountability and transparency: A rideshare passenger clicks an app and knows instantly the license plate, car make, driver, and consumer rating of the driver. GPS tracking follows every ride. At the end of every ride, the passengers and the driver rate each other. These safety and accountability precautions are unheard-of in taxis. It also underscores why rideshare companies like Lyft enjoy a passenger base that is 60 percent women. They know they are safer.

Let’s support our City Council in providing real choices for San José residents and employees flying into San José International. Join me at the council meeting or email your San José Councilmember and Mayor today. When it comes to customer choice at San José’s airport, let’s not let the taxi lobby leave the rest of us stuck at the curb.

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Leveling the Playing Field for Ridesharing at SJC

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November 3  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Taxis have a monopoly over rideshare companies.

“Unlevel Playing Field.” It has been the incessant – yet completely inaccurate – rallying cry of incumbent taxi companies over rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber, that cannot currently pick up passengers at Mineta San José International Airport.

In June, I predicted before the City Council that its “pilot program” to allow rideshare companies to pick up passengers, launched on September 1, would have zero participants. Seven weeks after the “pilot program’s” launch, there isn’t a single participant. City residents, workers and visitors have been left standing, literally, at the curb.

It is why 93 Silicon Valley CEOs – with tens of thousands of employees based in San José – have written to the City Council to urge the adoption of a policy that allows ridesharing companies to serve our airport. Read their letter here.

Yet the cries of “unlevel playing field” are actually the opposite.

* Seeking accountability and transparency? A ridesharing passenger clicks an app and knows instantly the license plate, car make, driver, and consumer rating of the driver. GPS tracking follows every ride. And at the end, the passengers and the driver rate each other. These safety precautions are unheard of in taxis. It also explains why ridesharing companies like Lyft enjoy a passenger base that is 60 percent women.

* Concerned about the City budget for essential services? The City’s own 2013 audit reveals the incumbent taxi industry costs taxpayers $272,000 in lost revenue. The airport acknowledges rideshare companies will earn revenue for the City. At SFO, allowing rideshare companies at the airport has already earned it $4 million in just 10 months.

* Concerned about safety? The exhaustive screening process of ridesharing companies turns away 4 of every 5 potential drivers. When a recent official in another jurisdiction found a few Uber drivers had criminal records that should have kept them from driving, most media accounts ignored that Uber’s process screened out more than 600 would-be drivers, self-identified as current taxi drivers, who had criminal records.

Yes, let’s have a “level playing field.” But as so often happens, it is the entrenched incumbent industry that cries “foul,” while enjoying all the power of incumbency; including a playing field greatly slanted in its favor.

San José, it’s time for “version 2.0.” Let’s not leave our residents, workers and visitors standing at the curb.

The San José City Council wants to assist the taxi industry to help it continue to survive and thrive. That’s fine. Let’s keep in mind that when rideshare companies were allowed to serve customers at SFO and in Denver the amount of taxi rides actually increased. Rather than fighting over the crumbs, the pie grew for both taxis and rideshare companies.

The cries of an “unlevel playing field” are simply not accurate. Let’s let those who wish to ride decide.

If you wish to join me in respectfully weighing in with the City Council, please join me at the Council hearing on November 10 at 1:30 pm, and call or email your San Jose Councilmember and the mayor today.

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Regional Patent Office: Eight Years in the Making

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October 21  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.

Those famous and fitting words by President Abraham Lincoln, himself an inventor and entrepreneur, could not be more appropriate when describing our recent success – eight years in the making – in securing a regional U.S. Patent and trademark Office in Silicon Valley, which opened for business on Thursday, October 15.

For the first 225 years of America’s U.S. patent system, an innovator or inventor needed to travel to Alexandria, Virginia if he or she needed to meet directly with a patent examiner or judge. Few young entrepreneurs can invest the time or treasure for such a trip, placing at-risk the protection of their intellectual property and inventions.

That all changed last week in Silicon Valley, with the opening of the new office in San Jose with 80 patent examiners and 20 patent judges.

Like most successes, this one was not secured over night. It took roughly 2,920 days, including passing federal legislation signed by the President in 2011, competing against 500 other bids for only three competitively selected regional patent offices, and enduring budget shortfalls and sequesters.

Silicon Valley, which is already home to 1 of every 10 patents filed in the United States, is now also home to a much needed regional patent office.

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San Jose International is Taking Off

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October 15  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . With our CEO Airport Task Force, San José International is Taking Off.

Five years ago, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group launched our CEO Airport Task Force, committed to the success of San José International Airport. With the active engagement of nearly 200 CEOs and senior officers, five key international flights were targeted for attraction:

  • Tokyo
  • London
  • Beijing
  • Frankfurt
  • Seoul

With great city leadership first from San José Mayor Chuck Reed and now from Mayor Sam Liccardo, one airline after another has added routes to SJC. First was the ANA flight between San José and Tokyo, initially launched on January 11, 2013. Next was the Hainan Airlines flight between San Jose and Beijing, launched this year on June 15. Then, in partnership with British Airways, a direct San José to London flight will launch on May 4, 2016. And now, after a four-year courtship, Lufthansa will initiate a direct daily flight between San José and Frankfurt this spring.

In baseball, “four out of five” would get you in the Hall of Fame, but not in Silicon Valley. Our CEO Airport Task Force has one more key international destination – Seoul, South Korea.

Our commitment to each airline is simple – provide the planes and we will help provide the passengers. Through the on-going leadership of nearly 390 member companies, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is committed to keeping our part of that bargain. Join us. Fly with us. Together, working with Mayor Liccardo, our airport and the city council, we can be sure that San José truly is taking off.

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It’s Time to Fix Our Roads

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September 9  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Where does California experience more gridlock – On our state highways, or in our state Capitol?

By Friday, the state Legislature will decide whether to adopt a sensible mix of reforms and revenue to fund improvements to repair our streets and repave our potholes. Reforms are essential to squeeze out the most value of every dollar we already invest to fix our state highways and our local streets and roads. Yet with a funding gap of $59 billion in deferred maintenance just on our state highway system, new revenue is also needed.

After eight months of Legislative discussions, Governor Brown stepped forward last week and proposed a balanced plan that helps ensure we invest in improvements that will save commuters both time and money. With one of every four state highway miles in poor condition, and nearly three of 10 miles of our local streets in equally bad shape, it’s time the state Legislature moved forward.

Put simply, if the Legislature cannot move forward to pass a transportation plan which balances needed reforms and necessary revenue, then California commuters can’t move forward either. Call your state Legislator today. Let’s not let the Legislature kick-the-can down the crumbling road. It’s time to act.

San Jose Works: Both for Kids and Our Community

September 2  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . San Jose Works – By building resumes rather than rap sheets.

Under the creative leadership of Mayor Sam Liccardo and his Council colleagues, the innovative program known as “San Jose Works” has just completed its first summer with measurable success.

How encouraging to see results rather than rhetoric:

In all, 247 young people – all from at-risk neighborhoods in which crime and gangs are prevalent – participated in San Jose Works this summer.

  • Ninety-five percent of the kids who began the program completed the program.
  • Jobs included public sector posts like libraries and community centers.
  • San Jose Works also provided private sector jobs in retail and back office administrative work, as supportive employers like Lowe’s and Target stepped forward.

So why has the San Jose Works program succeeded where similar programs often fail? Follow-up.

With San Jose Works, at-risk teens aren’t just provided with a job, they are provided with job skills, coaching, mentoring and supportive services:

  • Through a Citibank grant, the teens were provided with financial literacy courses.
  • Coaches helped teens prep for their jobs, guided them through the entire summer, and checked in with employers to make sure each kid was meeting expectations.
  • Through non-profits and faith-based groups, services like tattoo removal and counseling were provided for kids who needed a leg-up, rather than to be left-out.

Yes, “San Jose Works” because San Jose leaders – from Mayor Liccardo and the Council on down – cared enough to design a program that offered more than a job. They provided a path to success which will last much longer than a summer’s worth of employment.


British Airways: Well Worth the Wait

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August 26  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Like most “overnight successes,” this one was four years in the making.

Four years ago, our Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted a dinner with 20 member company executives and the leadership of British Airways, working to win a direct flight between London and San Jose.

Four years later, we announced Wednesday with British Airways North America Senior Vice President Simon Brooks and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo that direct service between London and San Jose will launch on May 4 of next year.

In a Valley known for taking big risks with the potential for big rewards, we recognize that placing a 787 Dreamliner for new international service is a significant decision. Each flight is an investment of a quarter of a million dollars, on a plane valued at roughly $200 million.

Yet we are confident the flights will be full. With 481 Silicon Valley companies with business operations in London and the UK, and 118 British companies with locations in Silicon Valley, this is a marriage made in heaven on both sides of the Atlantic.

It’s also a sign that San Jose is on the rise – or, in the words of our Mayor Sam Liccardo, that “San Jose is taking off.”

Through our partnership with the Mayor and the airport, the Leadership Group has now helped secure direct international flights to Tokyo in 2013, to Beijing last June, and now London come next May.

One more victory for the citizens of Silicon Valley – well worth the wait.

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Reform and Revenue for California Roads

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August 19  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino
Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino speaks at a news conference about transportation with California Governor Jerry Brown and state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins on August 19, 2015. Photo Courtesy: (Assembly Democratic Caucus)

Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino speaks at a news conference about transportation with California Governor Jerry Brown and state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins on August 19, 2015. (Photo: Assembly Democratic Caucus)

Here’s food for thought … It’s hard to drive Silicon Valley’s economy with your employees stalled in Silicon Valley traffic.

I had the pleasure to share the podium with California Governor Jerry Brown and state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins on Wednesday to underscore the urgency for new transportation funding for California.

With 23 days (and counting) left in this legislative session we need a bi-partisan solution to fix the cracks and potholes that have become emblematic of California’s crumbling highways and our local streets and roads.

We need a combination of reform and revenue. Reform to ensure every current transportation dollar is spent wisely and effectively. Revenue because we know the 10-year gap in transportation priorities and available funding is nearly $300 billion.

For Republican legislators looking for necessary reform, casting a vote for new revenue can be difficult. For Democrats looking for revenue, some of the necessary reforms can be a tough vote. Yet, this is our “Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid” moment. “I will jump if you jump.”

And here is the good news: Butch and Sundance survived the jump. And if legislators jump together, they will not only survive, but the road improvements will help California thrive.

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Pain is Temporary. Effort is Eternal.

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August 5  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

This weekend, my wife Leslee and I will be racing in the Triathlon National Championships, a series of races that brings together the top triathletes from around the United States, all hoping to qualify to represent “Team USA” at the World Championships next summer in Mexico.

For many, months of training – coupled with outstanding performances at qualifying races in their regions – have sharpened their skills for this coming weekend. My wife Leslee is one of those top performers, who qualified for “Team USA” two years ago, representing our country in the World Championships last summer in Canada. In a word, my quiet and humble wife, is a “stud.”

For me, I’m just happy to be there: To compete, even if somewhere near the back of the pack; in essence, to make everyone else look good.

It reminds me that we all set different goals. For some, it is to win. For a lonely few, it is even to win at all costs. For others, it is simply to do our best. To overcome adversity. To set a goal and work to achieve it.

Whether it is a sporting event or any other stretch goal in our lives, what matters most is not just how we do, but what the experience makes us become. The relatively obscure sport of triathlon has made me more humble, more adaptable to unforeseen and often difficult circumstances, and more respectful of those out suffering and succeeding around me.

Of this I am sure. When I near the completion of the race; as I approach the finisher’s shoot; my focus will be not on the crowd, but on two little girls calling out the name I love to hear – That name is not “champion” or “winner.” It is a much richer name, called “daddy.”