Try as they might, I don't think other localities have replicated it yet, and they might never do so. However, many of these same factors can be part of a singular company or localized industry. In the Valley, we thrive on doing, and every vector of activity is based on doing things big. A good starting point for us is a million customers or users. Wanting to change the world is considered normal.
I think Silicon Valley is still much better than Beijing. I would argue that Beijing is catching up because all those things can be trained, as long as you're facing real problems. Right now companies like Didi and Xiaomi have tough problems, and commercializing is very important. They gradually become better and better because they face real problems, and if they solve the problem they get real returns. If you think about the VC money, I think Beijing is comparable to Silicon Valley and sometimes the market size might actually be bigger.
Silicon Valley job perks are mythic. But as much as these professional entrapments might seem like dotcom-era phenomena, the practice of sweetening the deal for tech employees dates back to the '70s as a way to ward off labor unions. Happy workers, explains Stanford historian Leslie Berlin, are less likely to agitate for better conditions.
One striking example: Men were three times as likely as women to say Silicon Valley is a meritocracy.* The vast majority of women--some 80 percent of them--said success in the industry is not primarily based on competence, but men were split down the middle: Fifty percent said it was a meritocracy; 50 percent said it wasn't. This data leaves plenty of room for questions. Our sample size was around 50 people, which isn't exactly robust. And we received nearly three times as many responses from men than women.
Slate Plus members get extended, ad-free versions of our podcasts--and much more. Sign up today and try it free for two weeks. Copy this link and add it in your podcast app. For detailed instructions, see our Slate Plus podcasts page. Listen to Slate Money via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.