This year, a group of students from the Cambridge Judge Business School MBA class have travelled to Silicon Valley to meet some of today’s most interesting and pioneering businesses in arguably the world’s most important centre for innovation. This student initiated trip has been designed to complement the innovation, finance and entrepreneurship elements of the Cambridge MBA and allows us to network and exchange ideas with entrepreneurs, venture capital firms and some of the industry’s foremost technology experts.
On our first day we met two really exciting firms; Reply! and Zynga. Reply! connect advertisers and customers in a way that allows small businesses to have considerable control over their advertising strategy, enabling firms to make more efficient and effective use of online advertising. As well as learning about the company, the CFO and CEO shared their experience of starting, building and sustaining businesses in Silicon Valley, as well as advising the student team on how to approach and think about IPOs.
We then met with Zynga which couldn’t have come at a better time as they filed for IPO the day before we met them – valuing the firm at approximately $20bn!! Zynga are a leader in social gaming and have produced a number of hugely popular games available on Facebook. They represent a great example of what is possible to achieve in Silicon Valley and have the kind of culture, work environment and attitude to business that really inspires people to establish their own start-ups.
To finish the day we went to AT&T Park to unwind and watch a baseball game where the San Francisco Giants played the San Diego Padres. We picked up our tickets and took the escalator to the top floor which had amazing views over the bay and of course of the game! The coolest thing about AT&T Park is that its the only ballpark in the US where you can have a splash home run. Since its right over the water, when they hit an out of the park home run, it literally makes a splash in the sea. At the park, everyone fell in love with the garlic fries – a Giants delicacy and something we’ll definitely be taking back to Cambridge.
Unfortunately the Giants lost the game but it was still a fun and memorable experience.