Bob Metcalfe Wants Austin to be a Better Silicon Valley

Bob Metcalfe, University of Texas’ Professor of Innovation, Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise, delivered this keynote address Saturday to the 2013 graduates of the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) Program.
Metcalfe contends that “founderati – the people who invent, innovate, commercialize technology, found and grow startups, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs” are made, not born. And programs like UT’s MSTC help create them.
Metcalfe also contends that “our Free Enterprise System is under attack these days, by people who would prefer to grow governments, rather than economies.”
He says entrepreneurs, who create new ventures, are the solution.
Metcalfe moved to Austin from Boston two years ago and his mission is “helping make Austin a better Silicon Valley.”
“And by “Austin” I mean to include this our fair city and all its nearby suburbs — north, east, south, and west — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso.”
The aim isn’t to be “BETTER” than Silicon Valley, but “a” better Silicon Valley, Metcalfe said.
“By the phrase “Silicon Valley” I mean the bloodthristy take — no — prisoners swing–for–the–bleachers Free Enterprise Venture Capitalism during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in which I freely prospered.”

Metcalfe’s entire speech is reprinted with permission below and it’s well worth reading.



  1. Richard says:

    “Luckily for us in the United States of America, and particularly these days in the State of Texas, we have Free Enterprise, a time-tested system for revving up the cycle of freedom and prosperity.” while attacking ‘big government’ as in ‘Governments have no clue about the power of Freedom Of Choice Among Competing Alternatives, my acronym for which is FOCACA – freedom of choice among competing alternatives, the key to progress. ‘

    Mr. Metcalfe, not citing a single example of what you meant here makes your blanket statement game for doubt but also a safe play. I understand you love the Free Enterprise system that you’ve been involved with all your life. To say otherwise, or rise any doubts would be to question your life’s work… and very human beings (including myself) have the bravery and depth of honesty to do so…

    My one point is this: Most business are not the type of business you alluded. Most business live in a status quo and attempt to defend their bottom-line fiercely, thus shortcutting their own creativity and opening the door for disruption (the rope is reined even tighter and let’s raise the entry barriers for new comers). Which leads to deficiencies, lack of innovation, loss of talent AND most importantly, to executing risky policies such as not caring for the environment or the people do lots of the dirty work required by industry.

    Our state (yes, Texas…) leads the country in fatal work injury rates

    Now talking about government, and growing government that impedes progress etc…
    That’s brave talk to a group of young impressionable graduates… but since you are in Texas… can you stand by it?
    Would you be willing to also make these statements to the widows or orphans that lost loved ones and say ‘hey that government policy and control that saves lives in other states… not here ‘we love free enterprise and big government just gets on the way…’

    I hope not.

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