AmCham Seventh Innovative Business tour to Silicon Valley
On February 2, AmCham business delegation from Kyrgyzstan arrived in one of the most exciting cities in the US – San Francisco, where AmCham’s 7th Innovative Business Tour to Silicon Valley, one of the flagship programs of the American Chamber in the Kyrgyz Republic, had begun.
Day 1 in San Francisco was devoted to the cultural program introducing the most famous and visited sightseeing places such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Lombard Street, Union Square and Twin Peaks.
Day 2 started in Palo Alto city with one of the founders of AmBar Mr. Stas Khirman, the largest Russian-speaking business network of entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals, who shared insider information about the ecosystem of the Silicon Valley and Bay area and the nature of development of startups in the Valley. The business delegation members were interested in differences between start-ups vs. companies, venture capitalists and platforms connecting the above-mentioned parties.
From there, the group headed to visit the office of Airbnb, a privately held global company operating an online marketplace and hospitality service. Some interesting facts about Airbnb: Despite being the largest accommodation provider, Airbnb owns no real estate. The company works in 190 countries, signed tax agreements with 275 governments, with the most popular international city as Vancouver. Currently the company is worth at least 38 billion dollars!
From there, the delegation moved to Lyft, an on-demand transportation company primarily providing ride-hailing services and based in San Francisco, California. Participants had a chance to visit Lyft’s headquarters office, learn about the corporate culture, current projects and how Lyft is impacting the lives of people. Currently, 23 million people use Lyft’s services; in 2018 over 1 billion rides were given by Lyft. Over 1.4 million people drive for Lyft.
On Day 3, the delegation drove back to Palo Alto, a birth place and headquarters of many famous companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, Apple, Facebook, VMware, Tesla Motors and others. This beautiful city, also known as a historic center of the Silicon Valley, is also a home for Stanford University. Stanford University is one of the world’s top three universities, has one of the largest university campuses in the US and nicknamed the “billionaire factory”. It is said that if Stanford graduates formed their own country it would boast one of the world’s largest ten economies! Our delegation took a tour around the campus and met with Executive Business Education manager Akniet to learn more about Stanford’s system of producing the brilliant minds of the world and its invaluable contribution to the development of the Silicon Valley and the world in general.
Following the tour at Stanford, our group visited the Tesla Center and had a great opportunity to test- drive a latest Tesla model. Tesla is accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy with electric cars, solar panels and integrated renewable energy solutions.
After Tesla, our group traveled 10 minutes to get to Google’s Headquarters for a tour and to learn more about Google, a multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products and investing in internet search, cloud computing and ad technologies. The participants learned more about the Company, new products and ambitious future plans. Our partner Nazik talked about the corporate culture, the Waze app that she is currently working on, and how Google improves the lives of people across the world. The delegation called it a day by a visit to Apple Headquarters’ store.
After four days in San Francisco, our delegation flew to Seattle, Washington, which is also called the “second Silicon Valley”, where the head offices of world famous companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing, Costco, Pakcar, Expedia Group, Nordstrom, and others, are located.
On the fifth day, our delegation visited the headquarters of Amazon. It is an American company, the largest in the world in terms of turnover among those selling goods and services via the Internet and one of the first Internet services focused on the sale of real consumer goods. currently the company has major focus on e-commerce, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Our business delegation had a wonderful opportunity to see the working space of employees and learn about the company’s current projects. An employee of the company and our partner Sayragul spoke about the project she is working on – Alexa. Amazon’s Alexa, or commonly known as just Alexa, is a virtual voice assistant who helps put on your favorite music, controls smart houses, receive information, news, weather and more.
After the tour of the head office, our group visited Amazon Spheres (a $4 billion project): the three glass “spheres”, built so that Amazon employees can take a break from meetings, emails, reports and deadlines and just walk through the jungle enjoying the noise of the waterfalls and a pleasant breeze of tropical wind. After the “Spheres”, our delegation visited the Amazon Go store. The Amazon Go stores of the future are stores store without cash and queues. Amazon Go stores are unique stores that use the world’s latest technology through which a customer can buy goods without a queue or using a cash register. Our group had the opportunity to make purchases in this unique store.
After Amazon, our team headed to Microsoft headquarters, where we were met by Microsoft employees and our friends Dinara, Aidai, and Azamat. During the tour, our group had a great opportunity to visit the newest building on campus, ride the Microsoft bus to get around between the buildings, see employees’ workplaces, see and test the company’s latest products and services, visit tree houses in the Microsoft village with embedded technologies that serve as a meeting place and a more relaxed work environment, as well as to dine at the Microsoft cafeteria. The most important thing is that our delegation learned about the latest events in the company and about the motivational tools used to motivate the employees. In 2018, Microsoft regained the title of the most valuable company in the world, valued at 851 billion dollars, ahead of Apple in 847 billion dollars.
Located just nine blocks from the very first Starbucks Pike Place store, our group visited the first Starbucks Reserve roaster in a busy Seattle area. Starbucks was founded in Seattle in 1971 and today is the most popular coffee house in the world, operating in 76 countries. As of 2018, the company operates 28,218 branches worldwide, of which more than 3,300 are located in China. Some interesting facts about Starbucks: At any Starbucks you will see basically two types of tables: round and rectangular. Round tables are supposed to help customers feel at home. There is also a rule that they must open a store 10 minutes prior to the announced opening time and leave the doors unlocked for 10 minutes after the announced closing time. Interesting statistics: 20% of the regular customers visit Starbucks about 16 times a month. Our delegation tasted coffee from a large assortment of menus and fresh pastries, and also made purchases in the store.
Our last stop of the day was at the University of Washington, namely at the Foster School of Business, where our group met with the professor and our dear friend Vitaliy Nishanov. Vitaliy Kudduzovich is from Kyrgyzstan, but now he teaches strategic management, marketing and other courses at UW. Vitaliy Nishanov spoke about the University, the School of Business, student life and alumni contributions to his alma mater, as well as personal stories of teaching business classes at an American university. The University of Washington is ranked 13th in the world and entered the top 3 among state universities. State companies and its graduates make a great contribution to the development of the university. In 2017, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated a grant of $279 million to the University of Washington to continue and expand the innovative programs that measure global health. Over the past two decades, the total amount allocated to the university by the family and the Gates Foundation amounted to $1.25 billion, not counting the amount of over $100 million in gifts to the University from Microsoft, co-founded by Bill Gates. And this is the contribution of just one company to the university.
Seattle is home to the largest global aircraft manufacturer, the Boeing Company, an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, and missiles worldwide. It is interesting to know that it is the largest exporter in the United States by the dollar value. Our group visited the biggest Boeing factory in the world located in Everett, 30 minutes from Seattle. Our group took a 90-minute tour of the Boeing Everett factory where they could see the 747, 767, 777, 787 Dreamliners, as well as the newest 777X being assembled right before their eyes.
The Guinness World Records list the Boeing Everett factory as the largest building in the world by volume at 13.3 million cubic meters. After watching an aviation movie in a modern theater – “Past, Present and Future” – the participants were afforded the best views of numerous planes and futuristic robots. The view from the rim of the platform is unparalleled in the rest of the world for technology and innovation on a grand scale. Some interesting statistics we learned during the tour: the newest plane 777X will start flying in 2020; currently there is an order placed for 220 units of 777Xs. The Boeing factory in Renton produces 737s, the most popular plane in the world, with production of 50 planes per month! If you decide to purchase a Boeing plane, plan to spend from 89 million to 420 million dollars and you still have to wait for the next 7 years to get your plane! Our tour to Boeing officially concluded our official part of the Innovative Business Tour.
After the snowy Seattle, our group headed to sunny and warm Los Angeles, the City of Angels as translated from Spanish. Los Angeles is the largest city in the state of California and the second largest city in the United States. Los Angeles is one of the world’s largest entertainment centers in the field of cinema, theater, music, literature and television. The city has the headquarters of such well-known corporations as Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment and Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks and many other representatives of the significant industries of the economy.
Despite the tight schedule in Los Angeles, our group managed to visit the “Hollywood Walk of Fame”, which stretched across Los Angeles for as many as 18 blocks, where participants could find the hand and foot prints of their idols. After the “Walk of Fame», our group headed to the southern slope of Mount Hollywood, where they enjoyed the view of the Pacific Ocean and the center of Los Angeles and the famous brand of the city – the big white letters spelling out “Hollywood” on the hills. We spent the afternoon at Rodeo Drive in the Los Angeles area of Beverly Hills. The cultural program was concluded in Santa Monica, one of the most beautiful resort suburbs of Los Angeles, which is famous for its magnificent beach along the Pacific coast. The group had the opportunity to walk along the Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica’s 100-year-old wooden pier, which stretches 300 meters into the ocean and has an amusement park, restaurants, and shops. As we complete our 7th Innovative Business Tour to the Silicon Valley, we look forward to our future meetings in this unique place of the world.