It has been two decades since Carson Valley resident Ed Zschau made the run for the Reform Party’s vice presidential nomination.
With presidential hopeful Donald Trump appearing in Stateline on Saturday, and President Obama due there today, Zschau described his own campaign with Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm as “making mischief.”
“I’ve become estranged from the campaign trail,” he said. “I was one of the people who talked Dick Lamm into opposing Ross Perot, he said he wanted me with him. The whole campaign lasted four or five weeks.”
Over the intervening decades, Zschau said he has focused on working with young people in a university setting and starting companies, many with those students after they’ve graduated.
“I’ve had 2,500 students over the last 20 years combing those at Harvard and Princeton,” he said. “I meet my next class at UNR on Friday where I have 50 students taking a high tech entrepreneurship course.”
Today Zschau will be discussing how Western Nevada could turn out to be the next Silicon Valley, and some of the pitfalls it faces.
Zschau arrived in Silicon Valley in 1961, before it gained its fame.
“I arrived in Silicon Valley before it was Silicon Valley 55 years ago,” he said. “Through teaching activities at Stanford, I knew most of the pioneers of Silicon Valley and observed how it happened.”
He said huge companies and tax incentives weren’t in the mix when the technology revolution arrived in the Bay Area.
“Hewlett Packard in 1961 had sales of $100 million, and it was one of the bigger employers in the area,” he said. “Silicon Valley didn’t happen by bringing in big companies, but rather was built organically from a bunch of small companies. My concern is that unlike Silicon Valley, which didn’t have state subsidies or brought in big companies, this area has the chance to screw it up.”
Zschau said allowing business to grow at its own pace allows the market to adapt.
“When you bring in a company that’s creating 50,000 jobs, you’re going to drive up the cost of living and the cost of housing,” he said. “My great concern is that when you focus on bringing in a bunch of big companies, that you won’t get the results you want.”
Today, Zschau will be talking to residents about Northern Nevada’s high technology future at the CVIC Hall in Minden. The doors open at 5 p.m. The speech is being sponsored by Sara LaFrance’s campaign for Nevada System for Higher Education regent.
LaFrance said she heard him speak at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“He talked about why this area is ripe to be the next Silicon Valley,” she said.
He represented the area around Silicon Valley in Congress during two terms in the 1980s.
Zschau describes purchasing his landing in northwest Carson Valley as an impulse buy.
“We were living in an antique for many years on Nantucket Island,” he said. “I was teaching at Harvard Business School and then shifted at Princeton. In fall 2012 my wife and I felt it was time for a change.”
A few months later they sold the East Coast house after 30 years and shipped their belongings to Denver.
“We knew we wanted someplace at a high altitude on the east side of a mountain range,” he said. “We didn’t find anything in Denver, but we saw Carson was sort of like Denver. We bought a house here, though we’d never been here before.”