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From Fruit Shed to Fortune 500: The inside story of ROLM and its continuing influence on Silicon Valley
Decades before Facebook, seven years before Apple, four young men were hard at work in a prune-drying shed designing “the world’s toughest computer.” That was the founding of ROLM Corporation, at a time when the orchards of Santa Clara County were being transformed into what would become Silicon Valley.
By 1984—merely fifteen years later—ROLM was a Fortune 500 company with worldwide offices and a park-like campus. That same year, IBM bought the company in the biggest deal Silicon Valley had ever seen. By then, Silicon Valley was the world’s center of innovation, with a hallmark culture very different from the rest of corporate America. ROLM set the benchmark for that culture by providing significant financial rewards for smart, successful work, and an environment where employees could unwind—swimming laps, playing tennis, or dining brookside. ROLM’s influence extends today, in campuses like those of Google and Cisco, where onsite masseuses and sushi chefs are commonplace.
Starting Up Silicon Valley reveals
· leadership’s challenges, doubts, and convictions, from start-up to buyout and beyond;
· how ROLM’s technological innovations disrupted two industries;
· why ROLM was known as a Great Place to Work (GPW) and how that style can influence today’s workplace;
· the dirty tricks that giant AT&T undertook to smash competition that threatened its domain; and
· the hopes and frustrations of an IBM merger, from both sides of the story.
Humorous anecdotes and the wisdom of some of Silicon Valley’s most respected leaders makeStarting Up Silicon Valley an intimate story of one of the Valley’s most important and culturally influential companies.
Katherine Maxfield distributed phone books one summer during high school in Ohio. That did not lead to her 25 years of work (as an employee or as a consultant) for technology companies in Silicon Valley. An MBA did, coupled with her innate (as in, who knew?!) ability to translate technology into features and capabilities that customers needed and could relate to—marketing.
After retiring from the corporate world, she turned from writing marketing and business plans to writing fiction, with the help of an MFA in creative writing. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, and her personal perspective nonfiction has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
She lives in Saratoga, California, with her husband.
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