Stanford is a top-10 private university in Palo Alto.

Stanford and the Tech Boom

It's intimately connected to the tech boom that we're currently experiencing:

  • "Indeed, anyone who’s spent any amount of time in Silicon Valley notices the prevalence of Stanford graduates at every level of the tech industry, from the engineers who build web startups to the financiers who fund them." [TechCrunch] From that same article: "An interesting new study released today by venture capital and angel investment-focused research firm CB Insights found that, in a shocking twist, graduates of Stanford University do not actually dominate when it comes to building startups that nab top VC dollars. LOL, just kidding. Of course Stanford alumni dominate the VC-funded tech startup space."
  • "From the Stanford Computer Forum, which aligns area tech companies with Stanford research, to the university’s Institute of Design (or to the 40-plus entrepreneurship courses and multiple venture-capital, private-equity and iPhone-app clubs, Stanford has become a hotbed, if not the engine, of Start-up Mania." [Departures]
  • "Turns out Stanford University is every bit The Farm you always thought it was — as in a place to grow Silicon Valley’s workforce." [SiliconBeat]

History of Stanford & Tech

This is not new. Stanford (and other universities in the Bay Area) is often considered a key piece in the success of Silicon Valley in producing many tech ventures. The university has been open to intermingling with companies for decades (this is a really different tradition from many other universities that claim a huge distance from companies in public (often while still having ties to industry). This creates some hand-wringing on the East Coast. Okay, a lot of hand-wringing.

Stanford's official site has a nice short history of its connections with Silicon Valley. This is also a good brief writeup: "Whether Stanford fueled the tech explosion or the industry put Stanford on the map is a chicken-or-egg question dating back over a century. The first major tech company in the area, Federal Telegraph, was founded by a Stanford grad in 1909, making the region a leader in the development of radio vacuum tubes. Then, in 1939, Stanford graduates William Hewlett and David Packard started Hewlett-Packard, which spawned dozens of other tech companies in its wake. In 1954, one of the inventors of the semiconductor, William Shockley, moved to the area looking for engineers to work on a new transistor, and members of his staff went on to start Fairchild Semiconductor, marking the beginning of the Silicon Valley era. By the late ’60s, the area had become the center of American innovation, the natural habitat for the development of the computer industry and the rise of the Internet. While most schools transition from regional renown to national prestige through an undefeated athletic team, Stanford’s great claim to fame was, arguably, its computer science department. Started in 1965, it followed the department of engineering in working closely with the industry. In 1968 professor emeritus and former provost William Miller helped found the Stanford Computer Forum, which allowed companies like IBM, GE and HP to get an early look at Stanford student research. “That was the beginning of the strong interactions between the computer science department and industry,” says Miller in his office in the business school’s sprawling new Knight Management Center. “It’s become much more intensified since then, particularly in the last 15 years.”" [Departures]

Other stuff

Apparently as of early 2014, 90% of Stanford undergrads take at least one programming course [NYTimes].