A Tech Professional’s Guide to Silicon Valley

Written by Keith Reid-Cleveland
Published on Jun. 23, 2023
A Tech Professional’s Guide to Silicon Valley
​ silicon valley ​

As home to many of the largest and most influential companies in the world — not to mention many ambitious up-and-comers — Silicon Valley is widely considered the mecca of tech innovation. 

This has long been the case, as the roots of what later became Silicon Valley can be traced all the way back to the 1940s and 1950s. The area’s name was actually adopted in the 1970s and comes from the widely-used silicon chips local manufacturers specialized in producing.

As time went on, Silicon Valley would become the beating heart of advanced technology and the stomping grounds of some of the most imaginative and inventive minds of the past 50 years. 

The case remains the same today as companies in the area — which is actually a combination of multiple cities — continue to recruit top talent from a variety of fields and industries. 

 

Where is Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley is located in the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California. While there is a large and flourishing tech scene in San Francisco itself, it and Oakland aren’t technically considered to be part of Silicon Valley, which largely matches up with the geographical borders of the Santa Clara Valley. Still, the term Silicon Valley has grown to largely encapsulate the entirety of the tech community in the Bay Area in casual conversation. 

Cities that officially comprise Silicon Valley include San Jose, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Redwood City and Sunnyvale. 

Silicon Valley Tech Companies To Know

  • eBay
  • Nauto
  • PayPal
  • MySQL
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • Momentus
  • Apple
  • Eightfold

Silicon Valley Tech Companies and Startups

On the journey to success, many tech companies either start in Silicon Valley or view it as a major destination on their path as they expand to other major markets. As a result, many of the most influential companies can be found in the Bay Area — Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, etc. Because of the high concentration of large tech companies and venture capital firms, the region is also a great location for small and mid-sized businesses to get their start and benefit from the proximity of the tech giants everyone already knows. 

Here is a list of some of the companies — both big and small — that maintain Silicon Valley’s presence at the brink of innovation. 

 

SAN JOSE 

As the largest city in Silicon Valley, San Jose is widely considered to be the heart of the area. With a larger population than nearby San Francisco, San Jose is home to plenty of strong tech minds and the companies they work for, some of which have been in the area for decades. 
 

eBay Silicon Valley Tech Guide
eBay

Founded: 1995

Location: Willow Glen

Focus: Auctions, E-commerce, Internet, Retail

What they do: eBay is one of the most recognizable digital marketplaces in the industry. Whether someone’s looking to sell a new pair of shoes, find a hidden gem from someone else’s garage or just enjoy bidding on items for the best bargain, consumers have long turned to the company to buy and sell goods from around the world. eBay is viewed as one of the most successful companies to come out of the dot-com bubble of the 1990s and thrive into a new millennium. 

 

PayPal Silicon Valley Tech Guide
paypal

Founded: 1998

Location:  San Joe

Focus:  E-commerce, Fintech, Mobile Payments, Transaction Processing

What they do: As society moves further away from people exchanging loose change and paper bills, consumers are finding more convenient and tech-enabled ways to spend their money. PayPal played a large role in this shift as the company has spent more than 20 years allowing users to send and receive funds digitally. PayPal has gone on to acquire companies like Venmo and Braintree over the years to further its efforts to change how money is spent.

 

Signifyd Silicon Valley Tech Guide
signifyd

Founded: 2011

Location: San Jose

Focus:  Big Data, E-commerce, Enterprise Software, Fintech, SaaS

What they do: In the early day of e-commerce, consumers and retailers were both vulnerable to a wide variety of fraudulent activity and tactics. Over time, products and processes were developed to offer some much needed protection. Signifyd uses big data and machine learning to offer a 100 percent financial guarantee against fraud on approved orders that later turn out to be fraudulent.

 

Related Content18 Tech Companies in San Jose Shaking Up the Global Community

 

MENLO PARK

Geographically, Menlo Park is on the smaller side. But this should make it all the more impressive that some of the biggest names in tech picked it as their home base. Per capita, Menlo Park is likely one of the most tech-savvy cities in the country. 

Facebook Silicon Valley Tech Guide
Facebook

Founded: 2004

Location: Belle Haven

Focus: Messaging, Mobile Apps, Social Media

What they do: Facebook’s origin story is common knowledge after it was highlighted in the Academy Award-winning film The Social Network. But the company remains a major player in the tech world as its influence can be felt in politics, currency and many other industries it’s delving into. To date, Facebook has nearly 2.5 billion users. 

 

WhatsApp Silicon Valley Tech Guide
whatsapp

Founded: 2009

Location: Menlo Park

Focus: Messaging, Communication

What they do: Not too long ago, people had to jump through hoop after hoop just to communicate with friends and family in other countries and the price tag could get pretty high along the way. With the introduction of WhatsApp, a messaging platform that’s been adopted by people across borders, communication is more seamless and the world doesn’t feel quite as vast as it once did. Users can talk to their loved ones overseas with the same ease as if they were in the same city.

 

PALO ALTO 

Palo Alto is one of the most wealthy neighborhoods in the entire United States, with a median household income of $137,000, according to Census data. This is nearly three times the national average and is largely due to the area’s booming tech scene that includes a number of dynamic companies and employees. 

Hewlett Packard Silicon Valley Tech Guide
Hewlett Packard

Founded: 1939

Location: Barron Park

Focus: Consumer Electronics, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Information Technology

What they do: Not every tech company has the shiny newness of a post-2000 founding date. Some, on the other hand, have withstood the tests of time and reinvented themselves to keep up — and sometimes lead — the innovations that came after. Hewlett-Packard is a prime example and is credited by many as being the first Silicon Valley startup by building audio oscillators out of a garage in the late 1930s. Today, the company builds products for practically every industry imaginable. 

 

Tesla Silicon Valley Tech Guide
tesla

Founded: 2003

Location: Palo Alto

Focus: Automotive, Clean Energy

What they do: Named after the famous inventor, Nikola Tesla, Tesla, Inc. is on a mission to increase the presence of electric vehicles on the roads and clean energy throughout the world. The mission appears to be moving in a positive direction as more than 275,000 Tesla vehicles can be found on streets and highways, as of 2020. 

 

Nauto Silicon Valley Tech Guide
nauto

Founded: 2015

Location: Ventura

Focus: Automotive

What they do: Nauto specializes in using artificial intelligence and machine learning to record data on driver behaviors and prevent on-road accidents. For example, cameras can detect when a driver may be distracted and notify them of a car that’s suddenly stopped in time to hit the brakes. To date, Nauto has collected more than 400 miles of footage and prevented more than 250,000 collisions. 

 

Related Content33 Palo Alto Tech Companies Making Waves Through Entire Industries

 

MOUNTAIN VIEW

As the location of Google, Mozilla and Symantec, Mountain View is certainly a city worth knowing in the tech world. But if locals want to take a break from staring at their computer screens for a moment, the Santa Cruz mountains are just a short drive away.

Moveworks Silicon Valley Tech Guide
Moveworks

Founded: 2016

Location: Jackson Park

Focus: Artificial Intelligence, Cloud

What they do: Moveworks produces a customer service interface that uses AI and machine learning to anticipate IT issues for large enterprise employees. Instead of having to rely on a team of IT professionals to constantly buzz around the office closing out tickets, Moveworks’ products helps companies become more efficient and use their skills elsewhere. Moveworks’ clients include multiple startups and Fortune 500 companies. 

 

Eightfold Silicon Valley Tech Guide
Eightfold

Founded: 2016

Location: North Whisman

Focus: Artificial Intelligence, HR Tech

What they do: Finding qualified candidates and sorting through job applicants can take far more time than hiring managers and recruiters would like. With the help of Eightfold’s artificial intelligence software, this part of the process could be cut down to a fraction of what it used to be. The company’s interface even pulls from publicly available information to give recruiters a heads up on potential candidates who haven’t applied yet. 

 

Intuit Silicon Valley Tech Guide
intuit

Founded: 1983

Location: Mountain View

Focus: Fintech

What they do: Some of the most commonly used fintech products on the market such as Mint, Quickbooks and TurboTax can be traced back to Intuit. The fintech company, which was founded by Scott Cook and Tom Proulx, provides web, mobile and cloud solutions to customers looking for more convenient ways to manage and organize their funds and taxes. Intuit continues to leverage big data insights, machine learning and powerful automation to help approximately 50 million customers around the world.

 

Related Content15 Tech Companies in Mountain View Honing in on the Future

 

CUPERTINO

Cupertino is known as one of the most highly educated cities in the United States, according to Forbes. This is largely due to all of the highly educated talent that gets recruited to work for competitive tech-enabled companies in the area. The city’s name has also become nearly synonymous with Apple, after the tech giant built its famous headquarters there. 

Apple Silicon Valley Tech Guide
apple

Founded: 1976

Location: Cupertino

Focus: Consumer Electronics, Hardware, Mobile Devices, Retail, Software

What they do: As the largest company on this entire list, Apple’s name and brand practically speaks for itself. Changing the way people consume media for decades, Apple is one of the most influential companies in the entire world and is regularly in the news for releasing hardware and software products that will eventually be purchased by millions.

 

MySQL
mySQL

Founded: 1995

Location: Cupertino

Focus: Software

What they do: MySQL has been a partner to companies like YouTube, Uber, Netflix and many of the entrants on this list for open-source database services. As more data is required for companies to run properly, they need to look for more consistent ways to store and organize it. This is where MySQL enters the equation and has for more than 20 years. 

 

Seagate Technology Silicon Valley Tech Guide
seagate technology

Founded: 1979

Location: Cupertino

Focus: Computer Hardware

What they do: Data is being collected at every turn of every transaction in today’s market. While a lot of it is stored in the cloud, there are often cases where information needs to be stored more securely in one location, such as a physical hard drive. Seagate Technology has been producing hardware to store data for more than 40 years and has locations in Silicon Valley, the United Kingdom, Singapore, India and China. 

 

Related Content15 Tech Companies in Cupertino Writing Silicon Valley History

 

SANTA CLARA 

Santa Clara’s presence in the tech world has benefited from a bit of a refresh as the city’s downtown has recently been renovated and more companies are putting down roots. This cultural renaissance and the city’s location in the Bay area has resulted in a boom of development that’s likely recruiting even more ambitious minds to join the fold. 

Intel Silicon Valley Tech Guide
intel

Founded: 1968

Location: Agnew

Focus: Artificial Intelligence, Consumer Electronics, Hardware, Information Technology

What they do: The Intel Corporation was once primarily known as a producer of computer hardware that helped businesses complete their day-to-day tasks with a new level of efficiency. Now that we live in an era where data is viewed as the fuel of technology, Intel is looking to get more involved in the business. The work Intel is doing in data is playing a role in the next wave of autonomous vehicles, 5G and other innovations. 

 

Momentus Silicon Valley Tech Guide
momentus

Founded: 2017

Location: Santa Clara

Focus: Aerospace, Space Travel, Transportation

What they do: Rocket science has rightfully earned a reputation for being difficult to understand, which is why making major updates to the field should be left to experts. Momentus hires those experts to specialize in transporting space satellites to their specific destinations once they’re in orbit. If that weren’t impressive enough, the company uses water plasma propulsion to provide an affordable fuel alternative. 

 

AMD Silicon Valley Tech Guide
AMD

Founded: 1969

Location: Santa Clara

Focus: Gaming, Software

What they do: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) produces a wide variety of designs and develops graphics, processors, and media solutions for clients that range from commercial to consumer markets in the gaming industry. The company was founded in 1969 and has operations in Canada, France, Spain, the United Kingdom and China.

 

Related Content15 Tech Companies With Roots in Santa Clara

 

Silicon Valley Tech Culture

Thousands of tech professionals are drawn to Silicon Valley to make their mark and work at one of the many promising companies in the area. But all of their time won’t be spent in the office. Given that tech is baked into Silicon Valley’s DNA, there are plenty of opportunities to get even more connected with the industry in the region. For example, multiple conferences are held in Silicon Valley every year and there are numerous museums devoted to the history of tech — such as the Intel Museum, the Tech Interactive and the Computer History Museum.

There are also countless incubators and hackathons in the area for any professionals looking for mentorship or an opportunity to stand out. Additionally, Stanford University — which trains a lot of tech’s greatest minds — is right up the road and has its own community. 

 

Silicon Valley News, Events and Resources

Whether you’re already located in Silicon Valley or looking to be in the future, it’s important to keep up with any major news coming out of the area. Fortunately, all of that information is one click away on Built In San Francisco. And if you’re looking for a new career opportunity in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out our job board!

This article was originally published in 2020. Photos via Shutterstock.

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