Comcast Op-Ed Headline on Forbes.com Misleading

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April 17  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

The headline on an op-ed I authored that appeared on Forbes.com on Tuesday was misleading because the views expressed were my personal opinion. The headline implied I was writing on behalf of the point of view of Silicon Valley CEOs. That was not the case

“The op-ed did not make any reference to a decision on the merger by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group or a reference to Silicon Valley CEO’s opinion on the subject,” Guardino said. “It was strictly my opinion and a request has been made to have the headline corrected.”

Downtown San Jose, Spur to Action

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March 19  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . When it comes to strengthening downtown San Jose, it is time we are spurred to action.

And thanks to a recent report by the civic group appropriately named SPUR, we have renewed reasons to focus on the future of downtown San Jose.

As the report shows, the key is to get more people into downtown San Jose to fill it with vibrancy and life. Downtown streets are packed episodically – for the Jazz Festival, our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot or Sharks games, for example – but on a day-to-day basis it still lacks the density of other downtowns, including regional neighbors like Oakland and San Francisco:

  • With roughly 36,000 jobs, downtown San Jose has less than half the employment of downtown Oakland – with more than 80,000 jobs – and less than one-eighth that of downtown San Francisco – with more than 300,000 jobs.
  • Downtown San Jose is home to less than 14,000 residents, just over half the number in downtown Oakland – with 23,000 residents – and about one-fourth of the residents in downtown San Francisco – with nearly 56,000 residents.

So what should we do about it?

  • First, focus on high-quality urban design and dense development of all kinds in downtown. This will not only result in a more connected, attractive place, it also encourages walking, biking and transit.
  • Second, maximize regional transit investments by holding sites adjacent to BART and Caltrain stations for job-generating uses. This is the best way to ensure high transit ridership and allow for the vibrancy and density downtown San Jose needs without causing gridlock.
  • Third, downtown San Jose is already the cultural, entertainment and creative urban center of the South Bay. Build on this strength by making it easier to start creative businesses and activate the streets and other public spaces.

Reports are great. Eliciting action is even better. Let’s use this report to spur action. Let’s build a downtown worthy of Silicon Valley.

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The Leadership Group’s Top Five Priorities for 2014

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December 18  |  Education, Federal Issues, Government Relations, Tax Policy, Transportation, Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Make your goals transparent and accountable.

Each year, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group creates a three-year rolling business plan. Designed by our 392 members, it sets priorities in 10 distinct areas in which we can add value to the Valley, state and nation: education, energy, environment, federal issues, local government, health care, housing, tax policy, transportation and the community. All told, we have 62 distinct deliverables in our rolling business plan.

Each initiative is selected, and each effort must be measurable.

For 2014, our top five priorities were set last week at our Annual Shareholders Meeting.

  • Number 1: Work for comprehensive U.S. tax reform that is fair to taxpayers at home and keeps us competitive abroad.
  • Number 2: Strengthen California’s higher education systems
  • Number 3: Advance the BART extension from Berryessa to Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara
  • Number 4: Fight for meaningful immigration reform
  • Number 5: Enhance California’s economic competitiveness through our 14-member Silicon Valley Caucus serving in our state Legislature.

By making our goals public – both to our members and to the broader community of citizens and stakeholders – we make ourselves accountable to everyone in our community.

To view our complete set of priorities in each of our ten priority areas, please visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s website. We would welcome the opportunity to engage you and your company in our work.

We face tremendous challenges in 2014, with plenty of opportunities to work together to forge our future success. We do this by setting clear goals that make us both transparent and accountable.

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Is the South Bay or San Francisco the Innovation Capitol?

September 27  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

In the “great debate” as to whether the South Bay or San Francisco has become the epicenter of innovation, I would like to declare a clear winner … both!

When you step off a plane at San Francisco International Airport, signs from Mayor Ed Lee proclaim “Welcome to San Francisco, the Innovation Capitol of the World.” At Mineta San Jose International Airport, advertisements abound from high-tech companies that make it clear you have arrived in Silicon Valley.

While competition is good, and is certainly what makes our Innovation Economy the envy of the earth, it’s kind of silly to see some in the media constantly compare San Jose and San Francisco. As my friend Emmett Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation recently stated at our Game Changers 2014, we should think of Silicon Valley as “Market Street to Market Street,” from Market Street in San Jose to Market Street in San Francisco. These bookends include all the incredible companies innovating in every community in between.

Is this definition of Silicon Valley too expansive for some? It was Bill Hewlett himself, co-founder of Hewlett Packard, who told the media 25 years ago that his vision of Silicon Valley was even bolder – running from Napa to Monterey.

Clearly, when a company in Santa Clara County prospers – or a start-up in San Francisco succeeds – our whole region benefits. Let’s compete, but let’s compete together against the rest of the world.

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Four-story office complex will not impact the Town of Los Gatos’ downtown character

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May 8  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Location.  Location.  Location.

That’s the familiar mantra we hear when discussing how to value real estate.  The same can be applied to a land use debate currently underway in the Town of  Los Gatos.

The issue:  On an existing, mostly empty and outmoded office park at the edge of the Town, a local developer is proposing to build four new office buildings at four stories each.  The prospective main tenant for the buildings is Netflix, a locally grown company headquartered in Los Gatos that wants to deepen its roots and add 900 plus high quality, high-tech jobs.

This is the second iteration of a project that was approved by the Town in 2011 but then stopped due to a challenge filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, a good law that is often abused, as is the case here.

Why the opposition to the project?  A small but vocal minority of Los Gatos residents are very concerned it will erode the “Town character.”

Let’s pause for a moment.  Yes, the Town of Los Gatos is a wonderful place.  I moved there 10 years ago, attracted by many of the elements we all hold dear.  The downtown is a gem, one that draws people from all over the region.

That said, the argument that we should only allow office buildings no higher than 35 feet in order to preserve the “town character” is a one size shoe fits all approach.  It ignores the fact that the site backs up against Highway 85, is nowhere near the Town center and is near the end of a planned light rail line.  In recognition of these site attributes, the Town’s general plan has long designated this location for more intensive job growth.

“Town character” is critical, but should not replace critical thinking. This revitalization of an old office complex does not threaten the Town character and will bring with it many benefits like increased property tax revenues for our schools, a stronger argument to complete the light rail expansion and 900 high skilled jobs.

If you live in Los Gatos or Monte Sereno, please join me at the May 20 Council hearing to support good jobs in the right location in a wonderful Town.  I hope to see you there.




Blessed are the Peacemakers

May 1  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

State Senate President Darrell Steinberg may not be a household name in Silicon Valley, but the work that he does and the leadership he provides impacts every household in California.

His work has led to meaningful workers compensation reform, the curtailment of
frivolous lawsuits against small businesses and a host of other legislative successes.

He is thoughtful and tenacious; and a master of bringing all sides together to forge consensus over seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Which brings us to today. Senator Steinberg is now working to champion meaningful reform to the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA.

CEQA – a great law often greatly abused for non-environmental purposes – is the Holy Grail to many advocates on all sides of the issue.

Senator Steinberg’s legislation – SB 731 – is up for its first committee vote. The legislation is not perfect, but neither is my marriage . . . Or my house . . . Or anything else in life. It is, however, a significant starting point.

More importantly, we have the right leader who is “walking point,” willing to be attacked by all sides while working to find meaningful reform that will still protect our environment, strengthen our economy, and end the frivolous lawsuits that are filed for reasons based more on greed than the common good.

Thank you, Senator Steinberg. Your leadership is appreciated.

What happened to “Civil” in “Civil Discourse”?

April 19  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino


Last week, the San Jose City Council  voted 10 to 1 to move forward with an $82 million investment in Mineta San Jose International Airport, supporting Signature Flight Support’s winning proposal to enhance private jet service from globally-leading companies like Google.

In a Democracy, it is both common and appropriate to have differing points of view.

What is less appropriate is when a thoughtful debate on issues takes a back seat to ugly attacks on individuals.

At the hearing, a colleague took photos of hand-printed signs – held up high in the council chambers – with scrawled curse words disparaging and intimidating those who supported the winning bid by Signature Flight Support.

The First Amendment to our Constitution protects free speech, which is vital and valued.  It is a shame when the first amendment is abused by those who are short on factual arguments and long on individual attacks.

Years ago, I spoke in favor of a proposed affordable home development in San Jose.  As I departed the council chambers, a man who opposed my point of view followed me out to my car – in the dark of night – hurling insults in my direction.  Free speech? Perhaps. Hateful speech? Absolutely.

While we cannot control the tone and temper of others, it can serve as a reminder how we should behave.  A civil society operates best when we are engaged in our democracy, while treating others, even those with opposing points of view, with respect and dignity.

Character Counts

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April 11  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Recently, I was asked to speak on business ethics to a community organization here in Silicon Valley.

As always, I learn more by preparing for a speech than by hearing a speech. Here were my take-aways on ethical business practices:

* First, character counts: As Chrysalis Software CEO Debbie Diersch says, “In all you think, say or do, never make yourself right by making the other person wrong.”

* Second, community matters: My friend Darius Assemi, CEP of Granville Homes, often states, “Character is defined by how you treat those who can do nothing for you.”

* Third, colleagues come first: My mentor and friend David Wright, CEO of Clear-Edge Power, says “When you take care of your people, they will take care of business.”

* Fourth, course corrections are possible: Tigo Energy CEO Sam Arditi reminds me to “Never live in the shadows of our mistakes. Let them light your way.”

We are on Earth for only a short time. Learn from yesterday. Listen and humbly lead today. Look forward to tomorrow.

An answer of “No” is better than “No Answer”

April 3  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has the patience of Job. He has reached out, yet again, to Major League Baseball Commissioner and professional Hermit Bud Selig – the same Bud Selig who appointed a “Blue Ribbon Task Force” 4 years and one month ago to explore the proposed move of the A’s to downtown San Jose. Yes, four years ago. Or, in Silicon Valley’s innovation economy terms, four iPhones ago.

The objection, it seems, still comes from the San Francisco Giants, who have won World Championships twice in the past four years. They fear their “Territorial Rights” to San Jose – as if we were part of their fiefdom – which, ironically, the A’s willingly granted to the Giants back in 1992 when the Giants wanted to build a ballpark . . . here in San Jose. No good deed goes unpunished. Its funny – but not in a humorous way – that the Giants don’t mind competing on the baseball field, but seem to hate competition when it comes to the market-place. How anathema to the culture of Silicon Valley and the global innovation economy.

We applaud Mayor Reed for his fortitude and focus in once again reaching out to Commissioner Selig. At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we have also written to the Commissioner – more than two years ago – signed by 100 CEOs. Like Mayor Reed, we are still waiting by our mailbox for the courtesy of a reply.

“Monopoly” is a great board game. When it comes to a business model, however, the Monopoly we call Major League Baseball elicits behavior like we are witnessing here in San Jose and Silicon Valley

A Lesson in Humility

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December 10  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought… Would you rather be the worst of the best or the best of the worst?

Are you striving to catch those in front of you or allowing yourself to be pulled back by those behind you?

Growing up, I studied martial arts for ten years, primarily at the Buddhist temple in San Jose. No matter how hard I tried, I was never able to rise higher than third place finishes in the United States.

Yet the lessons learned from aiming high and falling short taught me persistence, respect, relentlessness and hard-work.

It taught me another lesson as well: Humility. On any given day, regardless of how many tournaments I had won and contests I had fought, there was always the potential of someone better.

Rather than being bitter, it made me better – a better fighter, student and worker. In life, it has made me a better boss, father, spouse and partner.

Setting ambitious goals is good. The famous artist Michael Angelo said it best: “My greatest fear is not aiming too high and failing. It is aiming too low and succeeding.” Be in the lead pack. Learn from those in front of you. Then you can help those behind you.