Silicon Valley Bank has grown up with Silicon Valley. Founded 30 years ago, at a time when many startups had trouble getting checking accounts, it is now one of the top 50 banks in the US with $35 billion in assets. It does business with 70% of the startups in the country and now has offices in India, China and the UK.
Gerald Brady, head of the entrepreneur services group at the bank, says, “Most banks look at us and don’t understand how we make money backing startups. We find great companies, we help you grow and we try to keep you.” For example, in the 1980s, the bank backed a husband and wife team with a $50,000 loan. Their company became Cisco Systems, and SVB is still one of Cisco’s banks.
Brady asks: What separates a great company from a good company?
“Every company has the same basic ingredients, but it’s the great companies that get just the right recipe. It’s at the edges that you build greatness.”
The key incredients
“If you’re going to do one thing it’s to build a sustainable culture in the company that’s going to there for many years. The best companies in the world have a culture that lasts.”
A sense of purpose:
“You have to have a missionary zeal is necessary. You have to believe you can do something that others think is impossible.”
“You can’t just want to make money. You won’t succeed long term.”
Become a talent magnet:
“Great CEOs hire people who are smarter than they are.”
“You have to be able to change on a dime, overnight. You need to be able to see change coming and direct it.”
“The great companies have the urgency that says we’re doing it now. It’s painful and risky, but we’re doing it now.”