Someone on Hacker News said today that "Silicon Valley is responsible for most of the world's information" (without a hint of irony AFAICT). Here's my immediate response.
Silicon Valley is not responsible for most of the world's innovation. Not even within tech. If the internet started any one place it was at BBN around Boston. The web started at CERN. Microprocessors started at Bell Labs and Texas Instruments. Cellular phones started at Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia. Amazon's up in Seattle, next door to Microsoft, and even Facebook is an import. SV isn't even a player in biotech, clean tech, materials science, etc. The cult of Silicon Valley is getting ridiculous.
Sure, there is a lot of innovation in Silicon Valley. I've done a bit of it myself, some working for a Silicon Valley company and some literally/physically in Silicon Valley. If the original commenter had just said that Silicon Valley did more innovation than anyone else there'd at least be a discussion worth having, but s/he said most meaning a majority and that's absurd.
But there's also a more important point to be made about Silicon Valley innovation. I was going to say that Silicon Valley does more than anyone else to capitalize on certain kinds of technology, but in an important way even that's not true. When Silicon Valley either imports or creates all of that innovation, and develops it into something of financial value, who actually benefits? Who reaps the crop that they have tended? To a large extent, that's not Silicon Valley either. It's Wall Street, and the Saudi royal family, and the Chinese government, and all the other people who actually put the money into those VC funds - you didn't think that was the VCs' own money did you? - with a hard expectation of getting it all back and then some.
Silicon Valley takes in innovation as a raw material, and creates profit as a product. Perhaps the "incubator" metaphor isn't the one that really works here. It's more like a factory. Or maybe a meat-packing plant. Ideas are brought in while they're still alive, killed, and repackaged into consumable units in a standard shape and size. And they're so damn proud of it. Next time someone uses that metaphor, remind them of what Silicon Valley really does.