Dries Buytaert (Drupal, Acquia): “Here’s where to start if you want to replicate Silicon Valley in Europe”



We had a very insightful guest blog on Whiteboard yesterday by Shani Shoham about the conditions necessary to replicate a Silicon Valley model of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Today, Dries Buytaert blogs about the very same subject.

Buytaert is a Belgian “expat” in the US startup scene. He’s the original creator and project lead of Drupal, and the co-founder and CTO of Acquia (which recently raised $ 30 m and is reportedly looking to IPO in 2014).

He says he gets asked the “Silicon Valley” question at least once a week. I believe him: looking at our analytics, we can attest to a certain obsession in Europe with the question: can we replicate Silicon Valley, and if so, how.

Here’s Buytaert’s answer.

First: “Europe has no choice but to become more like Silicon Valley”

“Entrepreneurs, not the government, will actually change the world. While the government’s role is to foster entrepreneurship, clearly the government on its own isn’t capable of changing Europe fast enough.”

“How? Start with the culture of wanting to reinvent yourself”

“Silicon Valley is a state of mind. To recreate Silicon Valley in Europe, Europe has to adopt Silicon Valley’s culture first. That culture has developed around the desire to continuously reinvent everything, including oneself.

That is what keeps Silicon Valley relevant, and what Europe needs to emulate most. Once Europe has established a Silicon Valley-like culture, it can slowly mix in the other ingredients: money, smart venture capitalists, better engineering talent, better creative talent, and more. But let’s start with the culture.”

Other aspects that Europe should adopt, says Buytaert, is the multiculturalism of Silicon Valley – and maybe a bit of the American Dream. You can hear entrepreneurs in Europe complain that Europe doesn’t applaud succes, and that making money is bit suspicious around these parts.

Buytaert says it’s time we make it acceptable for people to make money:

“I also believe that Europe should adopt part of the American Dream: the egalitarian belief that everyone is able to succeed through hard work, and that it is acceptable and encouraged to better oneself economically through hard work.”

Read the entire blog here: Can Europe copy Silicon Valley?

Photo: this is the present-day picture of the picture we used in yesterday’s blog, via Flickr

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).