03:52 AM

Silicon Valley boom or bust? It depends on who you ask

by Doug Millison for SiliconValleyWatcher.com

Three very human stories illustrate the economic disparities that characterize Silicon Valley as the region struggles to bounce back, in today's San Jose Mercury News.

Chris O'Brien writes:

Ask K.B. Chandrasekhar, 44, about the Silicon Valley dream, and he'll tell you it's alive and well.

Since arriving from India in 1992 with almost nothing, he is now on his third start-up, Jamcracker. His company is growing. His venture capital investments in India are going strong. It may not be the boom, but the view from the seven-bedroom house he built in Saratoga still looks good.

Ask Doroteo Garcia, 40, and he'll tell you the dream of prosperity is further out of reach than ever. Nine years after arriving from Mexico, Garcia spends his days cleaning the Stanford University art museum before pedaling his bike to a part-time job washing dishes. From the studio apartment he shares with his son in East Palo Alto, he laments that he has less money to send home since he lost his second full-time janitorial job.

Ask Steve Clough, 39, a former technical support worker who fell from Chandrasekhar's world to Garcia's during the tech bust, and he'll tell you the transition is jarring. Since losing his job in 2003, Clough has struggled to pay bills while piling up debt. From his part-time job as a high school math teacher, Clough wonders if the doors to high-tech prosperity have closed for good.

All three men are right. By the numbers, the economy is getting better and worse -- depending on who you are. Silicon Valley has developed two separate economies that have drifted further apart ever since the dot-com bubble burst in 2000.

In the valley's technology economy, profits, revenues and average pay are up dramatically. But fewer people are sharing in the good fortune because tech companies are doing more with less -- they have cut tens of thousands of jobs and continue to do so, boosting the productivity of their remaining workers....


A tale of two valleys: Three workers' stories illustrate widening economic gap in area by Chris O'Brien, San Jose Mercury News, 30 January 2005

What's the story? Doug Millison also edits OnlineJournalist.org, "on a need-to-know basis"