Silicon Valley success drives new innovations

May 18, 2012 6:43:47 PM PDT
If what's happened with other IPOs is any indication, many of the new Facebook millionaires and billionaires will now have the financial freedom to strike out on their own. Facebook's high-tech success may create a new breeding ground for innovation.

Remember back 10 years ago when PayPal was bought by eBay for more than $1 billion? That made PayPal's co-founders very rich. Two years later, Peter Thiel took $500,000 and invested it in Facebook. His shares are now worth $1.1 billion.

Elon Musk, another of PayPal's founders, has used his money to start up Tesla Motors and a private outer space venture called Space X. Saturday, one of their rockets is set to blast off to the space station.

"It becomes part of your whole being," Samir Mitra said.

Mitra founded Cast Iron Systems, a cloud computing integrator, and sold it to IBM for enough that he's now looking for new investments.

"You immediately gravitate to either being an entrepreneur again or you come back and say 'I want to help other entrepreneurs,'" Mitra said.

At this weekend's TiEcon 2012, an entrepreneur conference in Santa Clara, the history of Silicon Valley is being played out once again. A new generation of companies is hoping to find tech tycoons willing to invest.

And with Facebook's IPO, the number of tech moguls is not only growing, they're richer.

"Sky's the limit, imagination knows no bounds," Kanwal Rekhi said.

Rekhi made his money the old fashioned way in computer hardware. Now he's looking for software and social media entrepreneurs.

"I listen to the younger people and I harness their energy; you learn a lot more than you can ever teach these people," Rekhi said.

Rekhi has started up 56 companies and will say only that three have hit pretty big. In the 2002, the Sikh Times put his assets at $500 million.

He says he looks for people with the passion to turn their ideas into reality. But as for trying to predict the next big thing, he's totally given up on that.

"Every time I think of something, something different happens," Rekhi said.

It's not a lock, but a safe bet would be the next big thing will be in the Bay Area or financed by Silicon Valley.

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