AmCham News

Sixth Innovative Business Tour to the Silicon Valley

From September 22 to September 30, 2018, the American Chamber of Commerce organized the Sixth Innovative Business Tour to the Silicon Valley for owners and top managers of leading companies in Kyrgyzstan and neighboring countries.

The first day of the program started with a visit to Lyft Company. Lyft is an on-demand transportation company, which helps users to use the website/mobile application to find drivers cooperating with the service and willing to give them a ride for a fee. Lyft founders – Logan Green and John Zimmer – got Inspiration for their business in Zimbabwe. They discovered that transport was a challenge. Not many people could afford to drive and public transportation was not normal. Upon returning back to the United States, they decided to launch a company offering ride-sharing to the locals. The company was launched in June 2012.

The next meeting was with representatives of Uber. Uber is a technology platform; its smartphone apps connect driver-partners and riders. The company now has around 12,000 employees. During the meeting, we learned about the company’s corporate culture and its onboarding system.

In many of the companies in the Silicon Valley, in order to raise employees’ motivation, the companies give them some stock ownership in addition to salaries. Representatives of both companies told about practice among tech companies of distributing meaningful equity to employees. Stock and options are crucial for the tech and startup world’s ability to attract and retain talented engineers and executives.

San Francisco-based companies are both looking to launch initial public offerings IPO (type of public offering in which shares of a company are sold to institutional investors and to individual investors) in 2019. According to Financial Times their listings will be among the biggest the technology sector has seen in years.

At the end of the day, the delegation visited Tesla center and did a test drive.

Day 2 of Innovative Business Tour started with a visit to GooglePlex – the head office of Google.

During the visit our participants enjoyed one of the perks that Google offers to its employees – food from world-famous Google cafeterias.

Some people from our delegation wondered about the benefits of this, and company representatives explained:

  1. reduces the number of people going out to lunch (eat faster/less disruptive for work process);
  2. encourages people to stay late for dinners;
  3. improves team morale (teams eat together and discuss projects, thus more inclusive environment);
  4. encourages company loyalty.

Additionally, we were told that there are numerous perks which help keep employees (which are top world talent) motivated, for instance, medical benefits and work flexibility.

Afterwards, our delegation visited the newest Facebook headquarters.

While visiting the company our participants were amazed how much effort company puts into creating comfortable conditions for their employees. For example, there is a rooftop garden with total area of 14.5 hectares, where Facebook employees can work out, go for a run and have meetings.

The work space itself encourages active engagement inside and outside of the building with access to various outdoor areas, visible stairways, and flexible work stations.

A satisfied and happy employee is a productive employee, who is passionate about work.

The third day of the business tour started with a visit to Stanford University. It is situated in the heart of Silicon Valley and has produced many celebrated technology entrepreneurs including Elon Musk, Sundar Pichai, Hewlett-Packard cofounders Bill Hewlett and David Packard and many more.

For example, the search giant Google was a research project by two Stanford PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

The world’s favorite photo-based social network Instagram was founded in 2010 by a pair of Stanford graduates, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

Snapchat was started as part of a class project by Stanford students Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel.

Afterwards, our delegation had a meeting with Founder and President of AmBAR. It is the largest business network of Eastern-European and Eurasian high tech professionals.

During the meeting the participants learned about main components of start-up eco system:

  1. culture and mentality;
  2. venture capital;
  3. people and talents.

Our participants found the meeting very interesting and useful. It summed up all the knowledge they gathered during the last three days while visiting world-renowned companies.

During the fourth day of the program, our delegation visited Microsoft Headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Our participants learned firsthand at the new Visitor Center that it hosts the New Employee Orientation each Monday (approximately 200-300 people each week).

Later, our delegation visited Microsoft tree houses, which serve as the outdoor meeting space for employees. These trees are part of a larger new system of technology-enabled outdoor districts connected to buildings around campus and empowering employees to work in new ways.

Afterwards, our participants visited Amazon Headquarters. Amazon has become the second American company to cross $1,000,000,000,000 in value, following Apple. The company captures 49 cents of every e-commerce dollar in the United States. It employs more than 550,000 people and generates $178 billion in annual revenue. Additionally, our participants visited Amazon Spheres. The Spheres are home to more than 40,000 plants from the cloud forest regions of over 30 countries. The Spheres are reserved mainly for Amazon employees for the meetings and lounge.

The day continued with the visit to Starbucks Reserve Roastery, where participants enjoyed coffee.

Last but not least, the immersion into American culture continued with the baseball game: Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners.

The fifth day of the innovative tour started with a visit to Boeing company and Future of Flight Aviation Center. It is a one-of-a kind opportunity to view 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliners on the assembly line before they take to the sky.

Afterwards, the participants visited Theo chocolate factory, where they learned about transformation of the cocoa fruit into chocolate.

The last meeting for the day was at the University of Washington, which was founded in 1861. The university is among top 10 in US News Best Global Universities ranking and number 2 among US public institutions.

The program of the business tour ended with a cultural day in the city of Los Angeles, California. Participants visited Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Sign, Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Santa Monica Pier.

AmCham team would like to sincerely thank the representatives of Lyft, Uber, Google, Facebook, Stanford University, AmBAR, Microsoft, Amazon, and Washington University for the unique opportunity to see the backstage of the future technology development through exclusive meetings and visits.

We also would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Delegates of the 6th Business Tour to the US – the leaders and representatives of leading companies, who are constantly striving to learn about the latest technologies in the world.