Are Silicon Valley companies only making products for people in Silicon Valley?

I have some issues with this piece by Nick Bilton for The New York Times:

Belshe and Bill Lee were continually running late for meetings and texting each other: “I’ll be there in 5 mins!” So they created Twist, a 10-person start-up in the city’s South of Market neighborhood. The company’s first product is a smartphone app that helps you tell someone you’re late by showing your location on a map. Investors liked the idea enough to give Twist $6 million in venture financing last year.

“We thought there had to be something better than sending a text message,” Mr. Belshe said in a phone interview. “We were trying to tackle that problem of meeting up and making it easier.”

Is Twist a great idea, or are Mr. Belshe and Mr. Lee falling into a local propensity for creating a product for technophile friends rather than the public?

Bilton’s point is that this seems like it would only benefit techie types. But who wouldn’t benefit from an app that can tell that you’re running late and messages those you have an appointment with? Seems like the kind of thing that could curb texting and driving.

That’s not to say there aren’t still people thinking about big markets. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, which sells electric cars that can cost more than $100,000, said last week at the D: All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., that he hoped to offer a $30,000 version of the car in the next five years.

No, that’s not what Musk is proposing. He’s not going to bring the Model S to market for 33-50% of the current price. Tesla’s going to introduce a new model in 2015 that will compete with the likes of BMW’s 3-Series, which is a totally different market and price category.

But besides these minor gripes, my main issue with the article is that as a society, the general trend is everyone becoming more technologically savvy over time. Someone has to lead that push, and it might as well be the people making the technology.

Imagine if Nick’s argument had been applied to smartphones: “People don’t need apps and mobile Internet and video cameras in their phones. They just want to make phone calls.” Where would we be if Silicon Valley thought like that?

Tesla’s Elon Musk leaves Zuckerberg’s lobbying group FWD.us

Exclusive: Elon Musk quits Zuckerberg’s immigration advocacy group | Reuters:

Billionaire environmentalist Elon Musk has quit a Silicon Valley advocacy group formed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg after the group funded ads for senators touting their support for an oil pipeline and oil drilling in Alaska.

Musk leads one of the world’s best known “green” companies, electric carmaker Tesla. A Tesla spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday that the South African-born entrepreneur preferred not to elaborate on his reasons for leaving FWD.us.

I was initially excited when I heard that Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley leaders were founding a lobbying group to push for immigration reform. If anyone could cause real change in Washington, it had to be a bunch of liberal millionaires and billionaires with money to spend, right? Then the group started supporting Senators in favor of Arctic drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline. Not cool, Zuckmeister.

Tesla has enough Model S preorders for a year’s worth of production

Quartz:

CEO and founder Elon Musk repeatedly pointed out that they could close down all their stores and have enough orders, including reservations for 15,000 Model S cars, to sell off a year’s worth of production. The company opened eight more stores around the US at the end of last year, bringing the total to 32, and will open 15 to 20 more, including a store in Beijing, this year. That makes Musk confident that sales will continue to increase in the US and around the world.

I’m excited to see what happens at Tesla over the next few years.