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The Difference between San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and the Bay Area Explained

This is America. This is California, and this is San Francisco. Just this. Here's

the Golden Gate bridge, and over there is the longer but less iconic bay bridge.

Welcome to the city-county of San Francisco. Wait which one is it

city or county? It's both. A city is a subdivision of County, which is a

subdivision of a state, which is a subdivision of the United States, and all

levels have their own powers and responsibilities.

San Francisco is one body which has the powers of both a city and county. San

Francisco's often just called "The City" and you'll find many high-tech companies

there, but it is not Silicon Valley.

This is. Silicon Valley is the nickname given to the Santa Clara Valley, named for

the silicon semiconductor transistors that were manufactured in the region.

Transistors are fundamental part of modern electronics, and their invention

in 1947 revolutionize the industry.

One of the inventors, William Shockley moved to the Santa Clara Valley in 1956

to start device manufacturer Shockley Semiconductor. Despite having a perfect

name for an electronics company, Shockley was not the best person to lead a team.

He was notoriously difficult to work with, and generally an all-around jerk.

A group of frustrated employees, called the Traitorous Eight, left in 1957 to start

Fairchild Semiconductor. Many of the people involved would go on to found or

invest in new technology companies in the valley. For example two of the

Traitorous Eight, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, went on to found Intel. Around the

same time, Stanford University dean

Frederick Terman encouraged alumni to start companies and leased offices near

the campus. Two graduates,

William Hewlott and David Packard, started HP. In following years, the

reoccurring theme of people leaving big companies to start little companies,

which become the big companies, solidified the valley as a center for the computer

industry and venture capital.

So why do people mix up San Francisco and Silicon Valley? It is because the city

and the valley are both part of an economically interdependent region known

as the San Francisco Bay Area, composed of the nine counties that border the San

Francisco Bay. The nine countries are in decreasing order population,

Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, Solano, Marin,

and Napa counties.

Unlike San Francisco, these other counties are composed of multiple cities.

The largest county is Santa Clara and covers most of the valley and it contains the

largest city in the Bay Area, San Jose, where you'll find ebay headquarters.

Other notable cities in the region are Sunnyvale, the home of yahoo, the city of

Santa Clara, with intel, Mountain View has the googleplex, and HP headquarters are

in Palo Alto. You'll find Apple little more inland in Cupertino. Right on the

border of san mateo

me you'll find Stanford, prime recruitment ground for the industry.

While geographically not part of the (Santa Clara) valley, San Mateo still has many

headquarters, such as Facebook right by the border with Santa Clara in Menlo Park,

and if you head up the peninsula, you'll find YouTube's physical location in San Bruno,

right by the airport.

Moving on to the city itself, you would be forgiven for confusing it with Silicon Valley,

given how many tech companies are in a small area, sometimes even in adjacent

buildings. If you took an uber from Uber to Twitter,

you'll be there before you're done tweeting about it.

Along with Uber, many of the newer, highly valuable

startups worth over a billion dollars, called unicorns, are in the city, such as

AirBnB and Pinterest, also neighbors. Following the trend,

you will find yelp and reddit HQs just across the street from each other.

Taking a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge, we come to the North Bay. The four

counties, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano, are the least populated, but also the richest in the region.

Marin County is home to Lucas Films, and Sonoma and Napa counties are wine country.

And finally we move on to the East Bay, composed of Alameda and Contra Costa

counties. The largest city in the area is Oakland, which is a good place to live if

you are poor and only make $100K/year.

What the East Bay lacks in tech companies, it makes up for with food companies,

which is a reminder that the Bay Area is next to one of the most productive

agricultural regions in the world,

the California Central Valley, where if you're American is the origin of most of

fruits and vegetables you eat. The East Bay is not completely left out

though, in Berkeley you'll find The Spiritual Home of Numberphile, and another

university that scouts love.

So are you wrong for calling Twitter or Uber a Silicon Valley company? Silicon

Valley is more of a cultural term for the industry than it is for describing

geographical location.

So the company's don't need to physically be in Silicon Valley, in much the same

way that wall street finance companies don't actually need to be on Wall Street.

However the reverse is not true, you can't say Google, Facebook, or Apple are in

San Francisco, unless people know you're talking about the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you like this video, check out this similar video about the United Kingdom,

Great Britain, and England by CGPGrey on the left, or check out any of these

other videos on the right.

Thanks for watching!