Silicon Valley 2.0 (Beta)

They missed the dot-com boom--and the bust. But they say that the time to start a tech company is now and that Silicon Valley is the place to do it.

11 min read

I’m in a Silicon Valley café with a stack of interview notes when I tune in to the conversation at the next table. ”We just got funded or, well, we had a million, but we got a few more�” The day before, I overheard two men and a woman review résumés for a start-up developing Web-based software for a pen computer. I almost expect the barista to throw in a second round of funding with my latte.

It’s a far cry from the sackcloth-and-ashes ambience of just four years ago, when out-of-work engineers camped out in coffee shops because they no longer had real offices. The energy, the ideas, and the money have all come back to Silicon Valley, and the only problem for a tech reporter is to find a representative sample. I chose five new-generation entrepreneurs—with electrical engineering or computer science degrees, or both—from four nascent companies.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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