Esteem student Keith J. Marrero Jr. is providing daily updates of the Class of 2014 Spring Break Trip to Silicon Valley.
Although Thursday was the shortest full day in terms of time commitments for the ESTEEM class, it was definitely the busiest. We started at 8 a.m. with a tour of the Google campus, where former ESTEEM student Joe Livingston showed us the site’s copious amenities and gave us an inside perspective on what life is like while working at Google. He then led us to Google Ventures, which provides seed, venture, and growth-stage funding for budding companies. There, product partner Rick Klau told us more about GV and the 225 companies where it has invested thus far. Just last year, GV was involved in three IPOs and ten acquisitions and shows no signs of slowing down.
From there, we headed to Intuitive Surgical, where we were greeted by Rebecca Counihan and Stephanie Macauley, who spoke to us about talent acquisition for growing businesses. The ESTEEM class then had a chance to try the da Vinci Surgical System – a platform for robot-assisted, minimally-invasive surgery – with training software that measures performance. The scores triggered friendly competition among some class members. Following da Vinci, we met Scott King, Raymond Yu, and Julia Choi, a colleague of Sunny Shah at UC Davis who was instrumental in arranging the visit. They spoke on quality and other principles that drive Intuitive on a daily basis.
Next we toured IDEO’s campus, guided by Dennis Boyle, a Notre Dame grad and one of the company's founders. He took us to the machine shop used for prototype production and showed us one of IDEO's unique ways of providing creative inspiration for its employees when needed. Then he showed us their "toy shop," a space dedicated to innovation for children's products – both toys and software.
Our final stop of the day brought us to Cloudera, a big data management and analytics company. Notre Dame grad Rich Kizer detailed Cloudera's basis in Hadoop and how it was used to develop data analytics software. He also gave his account of Cloudera's growth as a company from just 30 employees in 2010 to over 500 today.
Our activities ended around 5:30 on Thursday, giving us the entire evening to travel as we pleased. Some ventured into San Francisco, some went to downtown Palo Alto, and others simply remained near the hotel to relax for the evening. However each person spent their evening, we all found fitting ways to wrap up our trip on our last night in the Valley.