It was the summer of 1977, in the midst of the Rolling Black-outs of an energy crisis plaguing our state, when legendary leader David Packard, Co-Founder of Hewlett Packard, called together 32 other Valley Visionaries to create what is now known as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
Fierce competitors in the marketplace, but collaborators when it came to the economic vitality and quality of life of our region and state, Valley icons like Intel Co-Founder Bob Noyce, AMD Founder Jerry Sanders and others heeded Mr. Packard’s request. At the now defunct Hyatt Rickey’s in Palo Alto, these 33 visionaries “left their guns at the door” and created an organization initially called the “Santa Clara County Manufacturing Group.” As prescient as ever, Mr. Packard is quoted from the minutes in the first meeting, “We will call ourselves the Manufacturing Group until we come up with a better name.” That “better name” was finally selected just 15 years ago, when Synopsys CEO and Co-Founder Aart de Geus, the Valley’s true renaissance man, suggested the “Leadership Group,” as the common denominator – Leadership – that drives time-stretched, global CEOs to invest in an organization primarily focused on improving the quality of life and economic health of our region.
The Leadership Group was incorporated on January 5, 1978. Its first CEO, Bill June, stayed at the helm for only four weeks, as another job offer wooed him away, making room for a 34-year old named Peter Giles. Giles, who would come to be known as the “6th Santa Clara County Supervisor” for his essential collaborative spirit with local lawmakers, proved as effective and visionary as the companies he represented. An early quote from Mr. Giles captured his approach clearly, “what we’ve done is build a bridge, a talent bridge, between industry and government.”
With 33 Charter Members, the “Manufacturing Group” was launched.