City breeds billion-dollar tech players | January 27, 2012 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

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News - January 27, 2012

City breeds billion-dollar tech players

by Angela Hey

As we start 2012, let's look back to see how five technology companies that have grown in Mountain View are contributing to our economy with multi-billion dollar businesses — Adobe, Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Intuit and Google.

On arriving in California, I had to write software so that our office Xerox laser printer, connected to a computer running the UNIX operating system, could print. Different printers used different commands. So, in 1982, John Warnock and Charles Geschke left Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to found Adobe to help standardize printing by creating the Postscript language. From Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto, Adobe moved to new premises at 1585 Charleston Road, graced by a sculpture of a person peeping out of a tower. In 1997, Adobe left Mountain View for downtown San Jose office towers. Adobe is now a $4.2 billion, 10,000-employee company with software and online services for document management, digital media creation, web management and publishing.

Symantec, founded in 1982 and headquartered at 350 Ellis Street, started with a combined flat-file database and word processor called Q&A for personal computers. After a few acquisitions, Symantec took off when it purchased Peter Norton's Norton Computing in 1990, becoming a leader in security software. It expanded from personal computer software into enterprise systems and cloud computing services. Revenues for the fiscal year ending April 1 2011 were $6.2 billion.

Sun Microsystems started by selling open architecture workstations that cost less than competing proprietary hardware for applications like circuit design and publishing. In the mid-1980s, headquartered at 2550 Garcia Avenue, Sun had many nearby offices around Charleston, now occupied by Intuit and Google. In 1997, Sun moved its headquarters to a former Ford Aerospace building on the site of Palo Alto's Jewish Community Center, then to Agnews Developmental Center in Santa Clara. Sun's former East Menlo Park campus, known locally as "Sun Quentin" is being remodeled for Facebook. By selling servers, storage and software for enterprises and the Internet, Sun grew rapidly. In 2010, Oracle acquired Sun for $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of debt and cash. The revenues to Oracle from hardware alone, with related support, are about $7 billion.

The first talk I heard from Intuit's founder, Scott Cook, compared Quicken check printing software to an old-fashioned pen and checkbook. Based on Cook's enthusiasm, in 1987 I bought Quicken for my Mac Plus. For many years, Intuit was in Menlo Park. Then it moved headquarters to 2700 Coast Avenue. From simple accounting to tax planning, Intuit has expanded to also offer software for employee management, data storage and web hosting. For the fiscal year ending July 31, 2012 Intuit expects revenues of over $4 billion.

Advances in software tools, online distribution and widespread use of computers and cell phones mean that Google, founded in 1998 out of Stanford, has grown much faster than the companies started in the '80s. Google reported preliminary revenues for 2011 of $37.9 billion, up 25 percent on 2010, with net income of $9.7 billion. Google employs about 32,500 people. According to StatCounter (, Google's Chrome browser market share globally grew from 15 percent in December 2010 to 27 percent by December 2011, second only to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, whose share is declining rapidly. In the same period, Android's mobile operating system market share went from 14 percent to 22 percent globally.

With revenue for the last four quarters approaching $500 million, more than double the previous year, and a 2011 initial public offering, can business social networking company LinkedIn become the next Mountain View company worth over $1 billion? Watch their growth as they remodel and fill more office space on Stierlin Court near the Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Which Mountain View technology company do you think will make its first $1billion in 2012? Read this article online and comment with your guess.


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