Wednesday, 27 September 2017
Our United Airlines flight from Austin (blog post here) arrived in San Francisco at 4PM. Our Blacklane driver was waiting for us when we arrived. Similar to Austin, we were given a Cadillac Escalade. It was a 40 minutes journey to our hotel in city. We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, located near the financial district of San Francisco.
I was given a Deluxe King room, which was very comfortable. We freshen up and then went out for dinner. It was my first time in the city so it took a while to figure things out. I was surprised to find the city was built on very steep hills! It was quite a workout walking around the area. We ended up having dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The food was really good!
Thursday, 28 September 2017
We had a full program today. We started off by going to Silicon Valley to visit Global Silicon Valley (GSV) Labs in Redwood City (website). It was a 40 minutes drive from San Francisco. I noticed the traffic on the highway was horrendous! The highway was packed like sardines!
We were greeted by our local host, Dato Dan Khoo, the President of MDEC Americas. Dato Dan is the one that assisted us in arranging for all the meetings we had in Silicon Valley. We were then introduced to the CEO of GSV Labs, Marlon Evans.
GSV Labs is an accelerator. They assist startups by providing them an environment to grow. This includes a working area, a platform to get advice from professionals, and even access to potential financiers. We were then introduced to LoadTap, a startup that is building an app for freight services. I was amazed to see how cool the GSV office was, and also, how multicultural the members of the startups were.
We had a bit of time before lunch, so we decided to drop by the Google Campus. We contacted Google prior to this asking if they could host us for an official visit, but turns out they had their hands full hence couldn’t accommodate us. We went ahead to the Googleplex anyway and did our own tour of the campus, and later went to the Google Shop.
The Google shop had all sorts of Google accessories and products. I tested Google Home, and even bought the Chromecast. There was a bunch of Android operating system statues near the shop. Definitely a nice photo op for Android fans.
We had lunch at Zareen’s, an Indian restaurant in Mountain View. It’s just around the corner from the Google Campus too. There were a lot of Google staff and other startups eating in the area too.
After lunch, we went to Tesla HQ in Palo Alto. We were greeted by Sean Tsu, a mechanical engineer at Tesla. He gave us a quick tour of the HQ. The office, like many others in Silicon Valley, uses a “open concept” and has lots of amenities for the staff.
Later we get to ride in the Tesla S. It was my first time in a Tesla. I was surprised to see the really fine features and how smooth the ride was. There was an interactice screen in the middle with radio channels from all around the world. Just to test it, we played Era.FM (a famous radio channel back home) and it works just fine!
From Tesla, we took a drive to the Apple HQ in Cupertino. My bosses wanted to visit Apple Park (the massive round shaped building), but it was still under construction. We then visited the current office, Apple Campus at One Infinite Loop. We visited the store and bought some souvenirs. I was surprised to find the souvenirs at the Apple store was much more expensive than the Android store earlier. The price difference is at least USD10!
In the evening, one of the bosses gave us a treat at Franciscan Crab Restaurant. They serve one of the best seafoods in town. We took an Uber ride back to the hotel and had an early night. The following day is another full day for us.