Book Club Recap—The Code by Margaret O'Mara

by Victor Echevarria

December 11th, 2019

Last month, the JSV Book Club, in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank, Cooley LLP, and the Computer History Museum, had the pleasure of hosting Margaret O'Mara, author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America. For those who haven’t read it, in what the New York Times called an “accessible yet sophisticated chronicle of Silicon Valley,” The Code offers the true, behind-the-scenes history of the people and institutions that built Silicon Valley, shaping Big Tech in America in the process. Margaret was joined at JSV by our Co-founding Partner and Managing Director, Greg Gretsch, for a conversation about Margaret’s groundbreaking research.

During their conversation, we were reminded that the true story of Silicon Valley isn’t just about the visionaries, but also the powerful institutions—from The Pentagon to Stanford University—that created the framework for innovation as we know it today.

As the Wall Street Journal put it, “The Code is a wise chronicle of the accretion and deployment of power and is especially sharp in tracking the Valley’s evolving relationship to Washington, D.C. By taking the long view, Ms. O’Mara provides us with the ability to see the roots of contemporary problems created by Silicon Valley’s rise, such as for-profit companies compiling vast digital storehouses of personal information or freedom in the internet era being used to spread hatred and disinformation."

It was an inspiring and insightful night, so we wanted to share some of the highlights. Below are some of our favorite moments.

To kick off the evening, Margaret gave a presentation related to her research, revealing the stepping stones that formed the foundation of what would become Silicon Valley as we know it.

Margaret tells JSV’s Greg Gretsch the story behind how The Code came to life now.

Margaret and Greg discuss how immigration is a foundational pillar of the tech ecosystem’s success.

Margaret details what she believes are the cultural components that unite us as a society when it comes to innovation.

Margaret and Greg candidly discuss the unique relationship between Silicon Valley and Washington—including what the government’s role should be and what can be improved.

It was an amazing evening, and the JSV Book Club thanks Margaret for sharing her wisdom with our audience.