Silicon Valley

The Grinch Loses out to Google

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October 18  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . When it comes to supporting some of San Jose’s most cherished holiday traditions, “the Grinch” loses out to Google when it comes to strengthening Christmas in the Park and Downtown Ice.

Our Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation is pleased to announce that Google has generously stepped in to serve as our Title Sponsor for our 6th Annual “Santa Run Silicon Valley,” slated for Sunday afternoon, December 17.

Google’s generous support allows us to further grow our Santa Run Silicon Valley, with a stretch goal to attract 5,000 paid participants for the 5-k race, run or walk.

Nothing will make you smile wider than watching 5,000 men, women and children – all dressed like Santa – chasing “the Grinch” – County Assessor Larry Stone – through Downtown San Jose.

The 5,000 Santa Claus-clad participants will literally be chasing the Grinch through downtown, ending at Christmas in the Park, where each Santa Runner will cross the finish line to a snow machine, greeted with milk and cookies, and a Finisher’s Medal that doubles as a Christmas tree ornament, suitable for hanging.

The Grinch tried to steal Christmas, but Google’s generosity is helping to save and strengthen Christmas in the Park.

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Let’s Talk Turkey. Turkey Trot, That Is.

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November 17  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

ttrotcarlHere’s food for thought . . . Let’s talk turkey.  Turkey Trot, that is.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving.  If you have a roof over your head, food on the table and a steady job or income, then let’s face it . . . you are blessed.

Sadly, there are several hundred thousand people in Silicon Valley – often our own neighbors – who are not so blessed.

We live in a Valley in which any given night nearly 10,000 people – including women and children – live on the streets or in our creeks.

We live in a Valley in which seniors, parents and kids make the awful choice on whether to pay their rent or afford food on any given day.

We live in a Valley in which health care is deferred or coverage is denied, as a luxury rather than the necessity that it is.

That’s why this Thanksgiving morning, I am asking you to join the Guardino family for our 12th Annual Applied Materials “Silicon Valley Turkey Trot” in downtown San Jose.

For some it’s a race, a run or a walk.  For others, like me, it’s about building community and helping those in need. Whatever your motivation, sign up today.  Together, if we meet our goals, we will contribute $1 million to local families in need.  Go to svturkeytrot.com to register and know you have taken a step forward in helping others.

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Traffic Jams

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October 26  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Traffic Jams: they can sour every trip we take in Santa Clara County.

That’s why we support Measure B. Like a jigsaw puzzle, Measure B puts all the pieces together for a sweeter commute:

* First, we finish the job on BART, bringing it to East San Jose, San Jose State, the SAP Center and all the way to Santa Clara University.

* Second, we link BART with an electrified Caltrain, at the SAP Center and across the street from Santa Clara University, for rapid rail around the entire Bay Area.

* Third, we ensure seniors, the disabled, students and working families have the lifeline and core transit service they deserve.

* Fourth, we build bicycle and pedestrian improvements, especially near our schools, including our 10 universities and colleges.

* Fifth, we improve highway interchanges and all 10 County Expressways.

* Finally, one of every five dollars fills potholes in all 15 cities and towns.

Traffic jams have turned our commute sour. Measure B makes them sweet again.

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We Need an Army, Not an Audience

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August 31  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino
Lawrence traffic

Lawrence Expressway

Here’s food for thought . . . In Silicon Valley, we don’t need an audience, we need an army.

On Tuesday, it took me 60 minutes to travel seven miles on Lawrence Expressway.

And I was in the carpool lane. It’s past time that we stopped fuming, and starting fixing the traffic congestion problems that plague our daily commutes.

It makes me more motivated than ever about our three-plus year effort to pass Measure B, for Better Commutes and Better Roads. Designed by traffic engineers and transportation professionals, Measure B will have a Game-Changing impact on key corridors like Lawrence, which will go from a “Level of Service F,” – near gridlock in the a.m. and p.m. commutes – to “Level of Service A” – near free-flow – throughout the day.

Please, learn more at YesMeasureB.com.

But back to our need for an army, not an audience, if Measure B is to be successful on November 8. In Silicon Valley, in our community, we don’t need an “audience” –

>> An audience is interested; but an army is involved
>> An audience sits back; while an army stands up
>> An audience puts others down; while an army lifts others up

Join me. Enlist today. Contact me directly at 408-501-7864, or visit YesMeasureB.com. Let’s get Silicon Valley moving again.

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Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project

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March 9  |  Education, Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . There are two ways to weather a storm – buy umbrellas or build boats.

In Silicon Valley, to battle the economic storms of international competition, the better way – the most successful way – is to build boats that lift everyone in our Valley when the inevitable rainstorms occur.

That’s why we commission the “Silicon Valley Competitiveness & Innovation Project,” in partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, comparing Silicon Valley with the other top five tech regions in the United States, as well as international regions like London, Seoul, Berlin and Beijing.

The findings – like our Valley – show that we have “high-highs” and some “low-lows.”

Our strengths are to be celebrated:
* Talent, risk-capitol and R&D, idea generation, commercialization and business innovation, labor productivity and jobs in innovation industries.

Our challenges are to be assessed and addressed:
* Cost of doing business, home and rental rates, traffic congestion, math proficiency in 8th grade, reading proficiency in 3rd grade and pre-school enrollment.

Take traffic – The average Silicon Valley commuter loses 75 minutes each week due to traffic congestion, above their normal commute time. As a region, we lose $5.4 billion annually due to congestion – in lost productivity, vehicle wear and tear and increased gas usage. During commute hours, our economy – literally – comes to a stand-still.

Concerned? Read more at SVCIP.com. Silicon Valley is still the innovation engine of the world, but resting on our laurels will move us from the driver’s seat to the back seat, which we cannot allow to happen.

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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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Good Guys Finish First

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June 26  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “Good guys finish first.”

My friend and mentor Tom Werner, the successful CEO of SunPower Corporation, one of the largest solar companies in the world, lives by that mantra.

It underscores his core belief that decency, ethics and genuine concern and care for your employees, their families and our community is a positive force for business success.

I believe it is also true for political success, which seemed to be the case a week ago when Congressman Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield was elected by his colleagues to the second most powerful role in Congress as majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

What makes McCarthy’s rise even more impressive is that he has only served in Congress for less than eight years. In a system that seems to reward seniority more than anything else, his ascent is unprecedented.

Yet his rise also underscores the maxim by Tom Werner that “good guys finish first.” You see, McCarthy leads – not by confrontation – but by collaboration. With his colleagues he has a simple three-part request, “vote your conscience, vote your district, don’t surprise me.”

One of McCarthy’s strongest traits is an inherent ability to first listen and learn, and then lead.

He has also taken a long-time, long-term interest in Silicon Valley’s innovation economy. While many politicians try to treat Silicon Valley like an ATM machine – only visiting long enough to make withdrawals of campaign cash, McCarthy is different. Rather than withdrawals, he has invested more than a decade making deposits of time and interest in the technologies and policies to help keep Silicon Valley competitive on a global scale. I often say about Congressman McCarthy – we may not always agree 100 percent of the time, but I know he listens 100 percent of the time.

In the rough and tumble of politics in D.C., it is encouraging that a decent guy, with small town roots and values, has risen to such an important position.

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Timing is Everything

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June 11  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Timing is everything; especially in elections.

Let’s face it; Silicon Valley traffic is terrible, and the conditions of our roads in most of our cities are even worse.

We need to fix our road and transit networks, and we need to do it now.

Yet we live in a democracy, and a democracy that requires a two-thirds vote for local tax increases.

As private citizens, the members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group have led four successful transportation sales tax campaigns in the past 30 years, generating more than $12 billion dollars in vital transportation improvements.

We are willing to help lead such an effort again – but this is where timing comes in. Based on the dismal voter turnout in the June 3 primary election, bringing out a record low number of voters, we now expect a very low turnout this November. Low turnouts do not bode well for transportation funding measures, so the Leadership Group Board has made the painful decision to wait – made more painful by the fact that our employees and families are waiting in traffic jams that need to be addressed. Our original goal was a potential measure in November of 2016, the next presidential election. That is once again our goal.

If you are as frustrated with traffic as we are – join us. Contact me at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Together, we have led measures that built Highway 85, improved Highways 237 and 101, are building the BART extension and funded key improvements for Caltrain Commuter Rail. We have a record of collective success, but much more work to do. Together, in 2016, we can do it.

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CEO Survey: Seeking Solutions

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March 5  |  Education, Federal Issues, Housing, Tax Policy, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . If we want to increase employment, then let’s learn from employers.

Annually, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group conducts a “CEO Business Climate Survey,” seeking direct input from the innovators and entrepreneurs who drive our region’s economy.

This year, 222 executives responded. The results are enlightening:

  • Last year, 2013, 62 percent added jobs in Silicon Valley, with only 9 percent subtracting jobs.
  • This year, 2014, 59 percent expect to add jobs here in Silicon Valley, with only 4 percent anticipating job losses.

Indeed, Silicon Valley continues to lead California and our country when it comes to job growth and economic recovery.

So what do employers, and our employees, need from policy makers to stay successful in innovation and job creation?

  • Locally, CEOs call for improvements on our local streets, roads and transit systems so that employees and their families can get around. We need quality schools for our children, and homes that working families can afford.
  • At the state level, we need meaningful investments in infrastructure to repair aging roads and ease traffic congestion. We need sensible solutions to the high cost of housing and investments in K-12 and higher education.
  • From Congress, we need immigration reform that ensures the best and the brightest can compete for our companies rather than against us, and tax reform that is fair to workers and keep our companies competitive.

This year’s CEO Business Climate Survey underscores that executives are willing to speak out, to search for solutions, to invest in answers. Silicon Valley’s innovation does not end within the walls of our companies, it extends through the neighborhoods in our communities.

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Creativity Trumps Calamity: Bringing the Regional Patent Office to Silicon Valley

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November 20  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Creativity is almost always the result of calamity.

On November 19, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and I announced at a news conference that our long-sought regional patent office is back on-track, set to open at San Jose City Hall in late 2014.

Finally, after four-plus years of effort, this dream will become a reality.

Yet our goal to secure a regional patent office was faced with significant hurdles:

  • Hurdle one: Securing language in the America Invents Act legislation that President Obama signed in September 2011. Without the stewardship of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and her colleagues, language allowing for three competitively selected regional patent offices would never have been included.
  • Hurdle two: Competing against 500 other bids for just three regional offices was difficult, especially because cost of living was a key criteria in the selection process.
  • Hurdle three: The sequester. Even though America’s patent system is funded by fees from America’s innovators and entrepreneurs, the federal government held it hostage in the sequester process. Once again, creativity overcomes calamity, especially in innovative Silicon Valley. Mayor Reed offered space at City Hall. Assembly Speaker John Perez secured funds for the office. Congressmembers Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Mike Honda championed the cause within the Capitol and our own Silicon Valley Leadership Group pushed for a solution around the sequester.

The result – in late 2014 the Silicon Valley office will open. Patent examiners and judges will meet with innovators and entrepreneurs in the heart of America’s innovation economy – rather than making inventors travel all the way to Alexandria, Virginia to file and protect their patents.

So like Silicon Valley – we see a problem and design a solution. Creativity once again trumps calamity.

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