Non-Tech Companies Head to Silicon Valley

Several companies have launched offices in Silicon Valley lately, but they're not startups. Instead they are well-known companies looking for some Silicon Valley innovation: Target, General Electric, Ford, BMW and Johnson & Johnson.  

The outposts are there to find new ideas and expose the company to new technology, according to the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps they remember the first days of e-commerce and want to make sure they're on the ground floor of the next big thing. From the article:

Companies from around the world—including retailers and old-line industrial giants—ventured to California to tap some of Silicon Valley's culture based on risk taking, speed, innovation and both hypercompetition and collaboration.

For BMW, that meant getting a partnership with Apple, and kind of winning the geographic lottery.

"We take our ideas and socialize them into the rest of the company," Darren Liccardo, head of the BMW Group Technology Office in Mountain View, Calif. told the WSJ. 
Another success is @WalmartLabs, which came from Walmart buying startup Kosmix. It helped Walmart create a new search engine and bettering its data, mobile and social technologies. The company is now seeing about a 20 percent jump in purchases.
Other companies are also taking advantage of the innovation, such as Ford, General Electric, but other companies haven't found success. One of those was Barnes & Noble, whose e-reader the Nook, never caught on. Blame goes to Barnes & Noble for not making the device compatible with Android apps, and limiting its usership to Nook users rather than opening it up to a larger audience. Still, according to the article, Barnes & Noble saw its time in Silicon Valley as nothing short of successful.
It makes sense that companies would want to be close to the country's zeitgeist. The proximity also lends itself to partnerships and new software that could better the company and its bottom line.
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