We started this first day of our study tour to mighty San Francisco and Silicon Valley with coffee, muffins and a briefing at MetaDesign studios at 615 Battery St.

MetaDesign is an agency with offices in Bejing, San Francisco, Zurich, Berlin and Hannover and clients ranging from 23andMe, Deutsche Telekom, Volkswagen and various startups.

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After going through the program of the week, Chuck Darrah, Professor of Anthropology at San Jose State University, shared insights on „What is Silicon Valley“; followed by a keynote „Shift Happens: Management of Innovation & Career“ by Jasmine Kim, former VP at Yahoo and various other companies.

As Chuck Darrah pointed out, lots of people expect Silicon Valley to be shiny. but It ain’t all shining of gold. Quite a lot of people need to work 2-3 jobs to be able to make a living and stay in the area. For a lot of people who live here, this results not in the often expected „Valley of dreams“, but rather in the „Valley of nightmares“.
Notable is the contradiction between the importance of corporations (that are shown on maps of the valley since the 1980s), that leads to “wiping people out” and the importance of networks between humans. As Darrah pointed out, people in Silicon Valley work on making everything virtual, to make time and place obsolete; meanwhile place (and proximity to the people here) is one of the most important factors for the thriving Silicon Valley (which leads to sky rocketing real estate prices and high cost of living).

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Jasmine Kim then shared her experience as an asian woman in Silicon Valley with us and advised us to „know enough to be dangerous“ to get jobs. She also shared her experience with combining being a CEO in a internet company (with a divorce rate of 80% amongst C-Level executives), mother of two children and wife.

After lunch break (some of us had to try the human less salad bar called „Eatsa“, while the others enjoyed a man made burger at GOTT’s) we went back in time at Wells Fargo’s museum. They sadly didn’t show us any Credit Default Swaps from 2007. Instead we enjoyed a game of original Pong, sat on a historic stagecoach and sent out Morse messages (in addition to the usual Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter activity).

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At Wells Fargo Lab, we had the chance to gather new ideas and insights about where retail banking is headed. Our banking experts of the class shared their knowledge about Swiss banking digital projects. Both parties could take learnings out of this exchange.

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For this post: Sira Blättler and Ari Byland