When people think about what makes Silicon Valley Silicon Valley, Stanford University is one of the top answers. The founders of many of Silicon Valley’s current and past leading companies were once Stanford students. These include Google, Hewlett Packard, Cisco, PayPal, Sun Microsystems, LinkedIn, Palantir, Yahoo, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Netflix.
Because Stanford educates the founders and team members of many successful Silicon Valley tech companies, a change in Stanford’s president is a strong signal for where Silicon Valley is headed. Stanford recently announced that current president John Hennessy will be replaced by Marc Tessier-Levigne in September. The reason why this is important is well summarized in the tweet below from Alok Vasudev, a VC at Spectrum 28.
2000: Stanford appoints a computer scientist president
2016: Stanford appoints a biologist president
Hopefully this is equally prescient!
— Alok Vasudev (@AlokVasudev) February 4, 2016
John Hennessy has a background in electrical engineering and computer science and he became president in 2000. The tremendous value which has been created since 2000 by online businesses that employ students who studied electrical engineering and computer science is unquestionable.
Marc Tessier-Levigne has a background in biology and neuroscience and he’s taking over in 2016. If history is any guide, Silicon Valley is going to produce many innovations in how we track, analyze, understand, treat, and modify the bodies and minds of living organisms in the near future.