SILICON Valley has long been the birthplace of great innovation. Companies such as Google, Apple, Hewlett Packard and Intel all began their journeys to greatness here, and the world was changed forever. Now comes a new Irish organization that could change the way the world sees Irish America and Ireland.
With Irish America acting as co-host, The Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG) held their first event at Stanford University in the dining room of the graduate business school on Thursday, March 26.
Over 200 of the Valley’s best and brightest attended on a lovely spring evening, and the combined brainpower could have jump-started the nearby Stanford Linear Accelerator. Principal honorees were the legendary Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, and Irish Minister for Enterprise Micheál Martin. Sponsors included Invest Northern Ireland, Waterford Crystal and the Irish Times, which together with ITLG presented this year’s “Innovation Award” to David P. Moran, CEO of Changing Worlds, an Irish company that personalizes software for cell phones.
ITLG is the brainchild of its chairman John Hartnett, senior vice president of Palm Inc. He has created an extraordinary organization of like-minded professionals who see their success in Silicon Valley as an opportunity to give back to Ireland and drive the post-Celtic Tiger era.
Ireland, Hartnett believes, should move up the food chain and pursue knowledge-based engineering, science and technology jobs. “I want the next Google or Facebook to be created by two guys at Trinity College Dublin or some other Irish university. There is no reason why it cannot happen. In Silicon Valley people go for it. They go for the big bet and it doesn’t always win, but when it does win it makes a big difference,” he said.
Another key figure in ITLG is Johnny Gilmore COO of Sling Media and a native of County Down. Sling Media invented the Slingbox, which allows you to receive live TV signals on your computer from any country in the world. Echo Star recently bought Sling Media for $380 million, giving Sling access to 13.6 million DISH satellite TV network customers.
Gilmore sees Ireland as a natural expansion base for many top Silicon Valley companies. “We know from our own experiences and contacts that there are exciting and attractive companies and investment opportunities all over the island,” he said.
The able, and at times hilarious, emcee for the evening was Dubliner Conrad Burke, president and CEO of Innovalight, a company that brings cost-
efficient solar power to residences and businesses.