Imagine this: you’ve just left home, your friends, all your belongings and are on a boat moving to a New World. On the boat are a bunch of people you’ve never met before. They’re moving there too. They’re broke, hungry and big dreamers, just like you. They want to build beautiful things with their hands. They like the idea of being rich and famous, but they are really there because the New World lets them build anything they want. It is unlike any other place in the world in terms of its freedom. Anyone, from anywhere can come here and build beautiful things. It beckons to them as New York harbor once beckoned to immigrants from Europe – send us your poor, your hungry, your dreamers…
You make friends on the boat with all the other poor, naked and hungry immigrants. You sleep on each others’ couches. You test each other’s products. You break bread together. As the years go by, each of you works on perfecting and building that beautiful thing. Some of them become wildly successful. Some are still trying. But all of you go through the ups and downs together. And nobody else but you and your group really understands the trials you’ve all gone through – beginning to end. The sacrifices in wealth, family and relationships. Of time away from home. Of failing 9 times out of 10.
These are things nobody else knows. They are unique, secret trials that you share with others on the boat. You get to know these people intimately. You know how they fare in adversity. You know their intellect, their work ethic, what moves them. You know how they help each other when the chips are down.
Many of your friends on the boat end up becoming millionaires because of the beautiful things they make. But they never forget the boat they were on, nor each other. That is why you see many millionaires taking the bus, wearing t-shirts, biking around the city. Many of them don’t even own a car or a house, because that’s not what’s important here. They take time out to welcome new people who arrive here each day on different boats. They share openly their couches to crash on, their network of friends, their ideas, their wealth. Many millionaires happily become broke again building the next beautiful thing, or helping someone else build theirs. They help the next wave onwards to success, the same way someone else first helped them when they got here years ago.
On this little island, we are brothers and sisters. We are family. We are here for each other. Sure, money and success and fame is fun. But those things come and go. This place is magical because we never forget where we came from, and we are always there for newcomers and for each other.
We all want to build beautiful things. And we will never stop, nor leave.
Thank you to all my friends, colleagues, partners, employees and everyone else that makes this place special.
Silicon Valley – I will always love you. You are everything the world should be.