[TechConneXt Summit] Google Senior Executive Shares the Inside Scoop on Silicon Valley

[TechConneXt Summit] Google Senior Executive Shares the Inside Scoop on Silicon Valley

(Image: File)
Google's David C. Drummond
David C. Drummond, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer of the recently renamed Alphabet

David Drummond is one of the most powerful executives in Silicon Valley. He joined Google in 2002 and is now the senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer of the recently renamed Alphabet. He also serves as chairman of the company’s investment arms, Google Ventures and Google Capital. As such, he has unique insight into Silicon Valley and the role black entrepreneurs can play in the tech ecosystem.

Drummond was interviewed by Journalist Carlos Watson, founder of Ozy Media, for BE Tech Talk: A Conversation with a Silicon Valley Powerhouse, kicking off the first day of the Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit.

[Related: [TechConneXt Summit] Day 1: Investing and Ascending]

Here’s some of what Drummond had to say:

On what makes entrepreneurs successful…
No. 1: They think big. Even if you don’t make it there, sometimes along the way you end up doing something substantial. The other thing is they’re contrarian, almost to a fault. When everyone else is going this way, they go that way. They don’t take perceived wisdom very well.

On who shouldn’t be an entrepreneur…
I think there are a lot of people getting into it because it looks like you can do well.  A lot of people don’t have the risk-taking mentality for entrepreneurship, and that’s fine. Risk tolerance is really important. Silicon Valley is like baseball–three out of 10 is good.

On black entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley…
I think it’s the new reality. And we need to accelerate it and push it forward. One of the things about Silicon Valley that I’ve always liked is that it has some meritorious elements; it doesn’t matter who you are, if you build the right thing. They’re brutally honest about performance. But Silicon Valley isn’t immune from the realities of the rest of the world.

On Rev. Jackson’s work to push diversity in tech…
What’s great about it is it forces us to think practically about what it going to yield results. It’s fine to have the right principles, but you have to devote resources to it; just like with all of your other business principles. And you’re seeing lots of startups thinking about diversity early in their life cycles.

On the next trends…
Mobile–this is happening much more quickly than we thought it would if you look at the amount of computing people do on their phones versus desktops or laptops. Most people coming online today are coming online through their phone. It has all kinds of implications for what startups are going to be built and where. Another is artificial intelligence. We’re moving toward this notion of general artificial intelligence, where the algorithms actually learn. They aren’t pre-programmed.

On whether we’re in another tech bubble…
There’s no question that the valuations of some of these firms are astronomical. They’re priced for perfection–if 100% of everything goes right. On the other hand, there are companies that are changing the world in pretty amazing ways. There are a number that look like they’re going to be around for a long time. They have scale, and they’re global, and they delight the user. There’s going to be some carnage, but there are a lot more that will get through this.

On replicating Silicon Valley…
I think this is happening everywhere. There’s nothing in the water in Silicon Valley that is making this happen. The talent, the creativity, the drive, the ambition–those things exist all over the world. There’s a saying I heard: “genius is evenly distributed.” There’s no reason to think this is going to be isolated to the United States, or within the United States to Silicon Valley.