In 1994 when Mike Maples graduated Harvard Business School, he didn’t head straight to Silicon Valley. He thought that at that point the Valley had been developed so extensively he couldn’t make a big impact. He feared he’d be traversing the same well-worn path without forging new ground.
Instead, Maples decided on a different course of action: To find the next Silicon Valley. He headed to Austin, which is where he made his home for the next decade. He co-founded a broadband software company called Motive, building his entrepreneurial name and experience and working on his fabulous Southern twang. Eventually he helped take Motive public and reached a point where he was ready to put his founding past behind him.
Maples headed back to Silicon Valley for a visit, and he got a “lump” in his throat. He realized that no matter another city’s potential, there would be no “next Silicon Valley.” Much like Florence in the Renaissance, Silicon Valley was the place of his lifetime. After all, it was not so much a place as it was a set of ideals, stemming historically from the Gold Rush in Silicon Valley.
As an example of the area’s ideals Maples cited “growing the pie,” referring to the tech trait of trying to reinvest in helping other people and companies instead of focusing just on getting one’s own slice.
He returned to the area he had resisted for so long and began his career in venture capital.
[Photo by Brad Jonas for Pando]