In Sillicon Valley, New Millionaires and Big Projects

What’s New This Quarter

Twitter’s successful IPO yielded big numbers: $1.82 billion in cash, 1,600 new millionaires and a $479 million tax windfall for the state of California. Chief Executive Dick Costolo’s $11.5 million seems almost sensible in an environment that remains chronically short of top engineering and management talent and leaves successful startups scrambling to attract the best people not only with money, but with perks reminiscent of the dot-com days. Subsidized Tesla rental, anyone?

Silicon ValleyOver at Yahoo, CEO Marissa Mayer continues to crank out new ideas and generate lots of publicity both for herself and her company, which is still struggling with layoffs and morale problems stemming from her  insistence on using unpopular quarterly performance evaluations. Her highest-profile hires toward the end of the year — Katie Couric and David Pogue — suggest that once again Yahoo will try to demonstrate that content is king.

Morale is also low at Cisco Systems, which missed its third-quarter earnings estimate and suffered a stock plunge. Cisco’s analysis: It was hurt by the government shutdown and fallout over the NSA’s spying revelations. It also warned of a big slump in sales for the fourth quarter.

Workers at Samsung are likely in a better mood as the company breaks ground on a huge research center in Mountain View. The expansion, in addition to Samsung Semiconductor’s new San Jose campus, builds upon the company’s 35-year history in the area. The new facility, set to open in late 2014, will include two new six-story office buildings with plenty of space for all the engineers the company hopes to hire.

Netflix and YouTube must have been happy to learn that they’re responsible for more than half of America’s broadband traffic, according to a report by Sandvine, a broadband service company. The report showed that Netflix accounts for 31.6 percent of all downstream traffic over fixed networks, and YouTube makes up 18.69 percent. (How Netflix will fare under the recent appeals court ruling on Net Neutrality remains to be seen.)

On the alternative energy front, Google announced that it had joined forces with KKR, a global investment firm, to acquire six solar plants being developed by Recurrent Energy. Five of the projects are in southern California, one in Arizona. The plants, which should be operational by January, have a combined production capacity of roughly 106 megawatts and are expected to generate enough electricity to power over 17,000 homes.

Skills in Demand

Sixty-eight percent of Bay Area technology executives surveyed by Robert Half Technology said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments. Windows administration and desktop support followed. Local recruiters say that mobile application development, database administration, virtualization, system upgrades and business intelligence projects are fueling demand for IT professionals in the area. Developers and designers of all types are always in demand, with a special focus on Salesforce technology, .NET development, Linux/Unix administration and business analysis.

Salary Trends

According to TechAmerica’s Cyberstates 2013 report, California’s tech workers earned an annual average wage of $123,900 (the highest of all states), 131 percent more than the state’s average private sector wage.

“California remains a critical state for the technology industry,” said Matthew Kazmierczak, vice president of the TechAmerica Foundation and author of Cyberstates. “Of the 15 technology sectors that Cyberstates tracks, California led in 12 of the sectors. As the tech industry employs some 7.8 percent of California’s private sector workforce, state and federal officials need to continue to provide an environment for technology to thrive. This includes providing a strong foundation in STEM education and promoting tax and regulatory reform that makes the state a more business friendly location.”

According to Robert Half Technology, 20 percent of Bay Area technology executives expect to hire in the first half of 2014, and 68 percent expect to expand their IT teams or fill vacant slots. In the same survey, 91 percent of Bay Area CIOs were optimistic about their companies’ prospects for growth in the first half of 2014.

Leading Industries

  • Information Technology
  • Technology Manufacturing
  • Software Development
  • Construction
  • Defense/Aerospace

Local Employment and Research Resources