Tour guides are just waiting to show you around Silicon Valley, legendary home to Facebook, Google and countless other big-name tech companies. The problem? Not too many people are lining up to see such exciting locations as the Symantec cafeteria and Fry’s.
The San Jose Mercury News recently talked to Shawn Hartung and Chris Soden of Silicon Valley/San Jose Tours about the hardships of starting a tour company that aims to do the seemingly impossible: make an industry built on people sitting around writing code exciting to outsiders.
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The tour will visit the aforementioned spots as well as the Intel Museum, Apple’s company store and the Computer History Museum. Will the duo, who are offering their tech tour for $99, succeed where others have failed?
No offense to Hartung or Soden, but I doubt it. The problem is that the very things that make Silicon Valley such a profitable place—minimal physical infrastructure, reliance on social media and SEO rather than star power, talent pool of studious Stanford graduates—also make it the least enticing tourist destination outside of a Staples’ parking lot.
Hollywood might be an ever-hungry black hole for cash from naive investors but, hey, look, it’s Eva Mendes! The heads of Universal Studios built an entire theme park from what was essentially a tour of their workplace; that’s not going to happen at the Googleplex, I don’t care how many Razor scooters they have.
The tour has other problems besides the inherent snooze factor of its subject: companies won’t allow them inside of their campuses. Considering the police raid of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s home after the misplaced, unreleased iPhone 4 fiasco, I’m guessing that most top tech companies aren’t too keen to entertain a bunch of random strangers equipped with cameras.
A few suggested attractions to lure tourists: the famous iPhone-swallowing beer garden, the magic pendant used by Bill Nguyen to hypnotize people into investing in Color and, of course, more Zuckerberg.