More than 20 years ago I worked and lived here in California for a short period at the Mondavi Winery. Being young and half French, I was brought up to believe that the world revolved around French wines… Mondavi proved that belief wrong. Very wrong. Entrepreneurship and creativity drove him and the Californian wine industry to success.
This time I am not back for the wine, but to look into one of the most successful stories of the US – the story of Silicon Valley. It’s fascinating, impressive and inspirational.
I am fascinated by the speed with which the software industry has developed over the last 40 years and impressed by the magnitude and impact on the world this development has had. From my perspective I admire the Danish entrepreneurs who as modern pioneers have taken a chance by going all in, and moving their project to a different continent with a different business culture and a different level of competition... that is highly inspirational.
On that note it is especially good to be back on an occasion such as today, where we are gathered to celebrate and strengthen the ties between Denmark and Silicon Valley.
There is only one proper place to accommodate such an event – and that of course is right here at the very core of the Valley - at Stanford University.
Stanford stands out as a powerhouse of knowledge and one of the greatest drivers of development and entrepreneurship in the world. Many new promising start-ups have been born and nurtured here. And many companies are inspired by the spirit of this place.
In a moment some of the most successful Danish entrepreneurs will share their experiences with us. They are all very good examples of what you can achieve by taking your world class ideas here to the Silicon Valley eco-system.
A recent study from the Bay Area Economic Institute shows the scale of Denmark’s presence here. A very high number of deeply innovative and skilled Danish companies have managed to establish and thrive here. Danish research, startups and experienced companies have established valuable cooperation with counterparts in the Bay Area.
A great example is the Danish startup Zendesk which was founded 7 years ago in Copenhagen. They expanded to Silicon Valley which has been at the heart of their impressive growth culminating when they recently rang the bell at Wall Street and became a publicly traded company on Nasdaq.
Many Danish companies are inspired by Zendesk's approach, and I am sure they will benefit from their experience. Zendesk shows us, that even though Denmark and Silicon Valley are geographically far apart; a shared strong culture of innovation and entrepreneurship will eventually bring the two together.
I started out speaking about wine, and I will end on that same note. Vivino, a Danish company, set out on a daunting task to combine wine and software. And in a moment we will hear what came out of that cocktail.
So; ladies and gentlemen, please join me in listening to the case-studies from Zendesk and Vivino.