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Reporters' Roundtable: PARC CEO on how tech innovation works

Steve Hoover, the CEO of PARC, talks with Rafe Needleman about the history of the famous lab, how to encourage innovation in a country or a company, and what it's like to compete with Google for engineers.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

A few months ago I was invited down to PARC, the Palo Alto Research Center, to meet Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox, and Steve Hoover, the CEO of PARC. Xerox itself is becoming a rather traditional enterprise software and services company focusing on document management. But it still owns the majority share of PARC, one of the oldest and most productive tech labs in Silicon Valley.

PARC was founded in 1970. From this lab we got laser printing, Ethernet, the first PC (the Alto), object-oriented programming, and several silicon manufacturing technologies.

Today PARC is still turning out the inventions, under the leadership of Hoover. Today on the Roundtable we're going to get a tour of the PARC labs from Hoover, and then talk with him about the state of Silicon Valley, and about education, patents, and related topics.

Watch this: Ep. 90: PARC CEO on how tech innovation works


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Discussion points

When it comes to technology, PARC is like the citadel on the hill, watching over the bustle in the marketplace outside the walls, occasionally releasing some big invention into the world. But lately we haven't heard much from the labs. Why is that?

Discuss Xerox as PARC's majority owner. How does that work out?

How does that water treatment product you showed us fit into Xerox's mission?

How come IBM shipped the first real successful business computer, and not Xerox? Lessons?

Discuss today's big tech trends--social, mobile, local, and cloud computing.

Talk about the state of invention in technology. It's easier and cheaper than ever to start an idea-based company. What's your take on that?

You have contracts with various governmental and military agencies. What are they looking for? Can they also get it from startups? Universities?

Talk about global differences in innovation and education. How are we doing here?

Let's talk about innovation within an enterprise. Many startups are started by people who know, either from experience or common knowledge, that inventions are hard to make into real projects inside a big company. Discuss.

We need to talk about patents. Google just bought Motorola's patents. Apple licensed Nokia's. Kodak's are reportedly on the block. Is Xerox about to sell its trove to Microsoft? What do you think of the patent wars?

Discuss the state of open source today, and what it means for inventors and entrepreneurs