Strategic Plan, 2024-2029
The year 2023 marks Joint Venture's 30-year anniversary, and the occasion has made us reflective.
Looking outward, we see Silicon Valley, the world's most prodigious regional economy, leading the world in innovation but also in income inequality. Silicon Valley's remarkable run of success is accompanied by a staggering array of challenges: a failure to provide affordable housing; a steep rise in homelessness; the local impacts of climate change; lagging infrastructure; racial inequities; and profound health, education, and wealth disparities.
We also see a geography surrounded on three sides by water, ringed by hills and permanently protected open space, and sitting on a precipice that can't easily build its way out of congestion, nor keep sprawling outward. Yet we don't see any structure pulling communities into broader regional frameworks for collaboration, problem solving, and decision making. That, in a nutshell, is our challenge, our regional challenge.
Looking inward, we see that Joint Venture is strategically positioned to help. Silicon Valley requires a thoughtful and deliberate strategy to guide its growth, and Joint Venture's board articulated that strategy on the organization's 30th anniversary. More than ever, they said, the region's leaders—across all the major sectors—need to be convened for the kind of penetrating dialogue and robust discussion that enables action. More than ever, they need to be equipped with the kind of data, analysis, and insight that Joint Venture's Institute uniquely provides.
But meeting the extraordinary challenges of the next decade calls for more heft. It will require new patterns, new partnerships, better execution on our part, and markedly higher levels of investment from the region. To rise to the need, Joint Venture is doubling down on its mission and setting off on a crucial capacity-building effort, in order to provide:
- A neutral space where leaders from government, business, labor, philanthropy, and academia can have substantive, cross-boundary interaction with their peers.
- A place where those leaders can feel emboldened to tackle even the most intractable issues (such as regional governance, or new tax and revenue models).
- A thriving research arm providing the factual and analytical basis, so political leaders can speak truth with power to their constituencies.
Joint Venture and its Institute provide this foundation, and we're embarked now on a fourth decade of growth and impact.
JOINT VENTURE THEN AND NOW
Joint Venture Silicon Valley was born in crisis.
1993 was a critical point of inflection in our region's tumultuous history. The economy was in a protracted downturn, government and business leaders were pointing the finger of blame, and tech companies were being wooed to greener pastures. Against a backdrop of stiff overseas competition, many saw Silicon Valley as a region in decline, its best days now behind it.
Desperation spurred a new form of social innovation. A group of visionaries saw the need for a neutral gathering place, one where government and business leaders could develop a shared understanding of the region's challenges, make priorities, and build a framework for collaboration. They tried it, tentatively and experimentally.
The results were immediate and fairly astounding. First came regulatory streamlining. Next came uniform building codes, followed by pioneering online approaches to permitting. Joint Venture became a hive of activity for experiments and pilot projects, not all of which were successful, yet all of them taking place in a common framework for data gathering and fact-based decision making.
The economy didn't merely recover. It went roaring into the Valley's next storied waves of innovation and company formation. Joint Venture claiming credit for any of it would be like the rooster claiming credit for the dawn, but it was clear at the ten-year mark that the region had a path-breaking new apparatus for regional collaboration. Working under the Joint Venture umbrella, the region's leaders charted a course for the “next” Silicon Valley, to follow the dot-com bust. They led the nation's largest public sector procurement project for solar energy, created the state's largest destination charging station for electric vehicles, laid the groundwork for new community choice energy agencies, tackled statewide tax and fiscal issues, and began capturing surplus food for redistribution.
Encouraged by success, Joint Venture widened the participation beyond business and government. Now the principals of organized labor came into the fold, joined by college and university presidents, and foundation chiefs. All of it made Silicon Valley feel like a can-do place, a place that could be as innovative in the civic arena as it had been in the commercial one. Joint Venture was breeding a new brand of civic entrepreneurs.
At the twenty-year mark, Joint Venture built out the organization to include research and analysis as part of its core mission. The result was the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies, a think tank housed within Joint Venture, curating data sets, tracking indicators, providing regular public opinion surveys, publishing the (now internationally recognized) Silicon Valley Index, providing a stream of white papers and reports, and convening the region at the annual State of the Valley conference. Because the Institute is unaligned with any given sector, and because a scrupulous practice of peer review ensures rigor and objectivity, today the organization is embraced as the region's central clearing house, a valued space for dialogue and decision making.
And so we live happily ever after?
Now as we reach Joint Venture's thirty-year mark, Silicon Valley finds itself at another harrowing point of inflection, facing a post-pandemic set of challenges that make the concerns of 1993 seem quaint by comparison.
THESE ARE VERY BIG PROBLEMS
Today's issues are far more daunting than the ones which drove Joint Venture's founding. Silicon Valley's remarkable run of success has brought with it a new (and snowballing) slate of perils: significant structural changes to the economy that create opportunities for some and displace the rest; permanent shifts wrought by the pandemic; our aging infrastructure; a continuing inability to address our transit and mobility challenges; a failure to provide housing that is affordable to the workforce; the steep rise of homelessness; the local impacts of climate change (wildfires, sea level rise and land subsidence, drought and water management); the challenges of shifting to renewable energy; our lagging communications infrastructure; profound health, education, and wealth disparities that stratify by race, and more.
As if that weren't enough, the Bay Area's challenges are worked out on a complicated terrain, one that is largely unorganized. Since Joint Venture's inception the region's population has swollen by 30 percent. The Bay Area's 7.7 million people now fill nine counties and 101 cities served by 28 disparate transit agencies, scores of special districts, and a set of (statutorily limited) regional bodies you can count on one hand.
There comes a realization: our problems spill over these political boundaries, exceeding the size and scope of our cities and even our counties. Yet we lack any sort of structure where communities can enter into formal (or even informal) forms of collaboration and problem-solving. Hence the crucial need for an organization like Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the first and only organization of its kind.
AN ORGANIZATION SUITED TO THE NEED
At Joint Venture, we envision an organization doubling down on its unique ability to convene the region and building out the Institute with the nation's deepest expertise on metropolitan issues.
We see Joint Venture operating at scale, and doing so with the kind of independence that a solid financial footing will provide. We also see the organization continuing to provide space—through fiscal sponsorship—for the region's leaders to run pilots or develop proof of concept.
It's time, in other words, for Joint Venture to take a quantum leap, and so too the region—developing better mechanisms for regional planning and decision making, leveraging the strength of our local governments, making the private sector a full and equal participant, and unleashing a renewed spirit of innovation in the public square.
THE THREE PILLARS OF OUR STRATEGIC PLAN
Joint Venture has embarked on a strategic plan with three distinct pillars: (1) Growing the analytical expertise and output of the Institute; (2) Convening the region's stakeholders with more frequency and specificity; and (3) creating a solid and sustainable financial footing for the organization.
Pillar One: Growing Our Research Expertise and Output
The Institute for Regional Studies publishes two flagship products, the Silicon Valley Index and the Silicon Valley Poll. We also serve the community by presenting a host of data releases, white papers and special reports, and by taking on engagements. Our work provides an objective assessment of the region's progress and acts as the valley's report card. We build the essential analytical framework for collective action, enabling the region's leaders to tackle shared challenges and foster creative and informed solutions collaboratively.
The Institute is staffed by data specialists and a small team of researchers and volunteers. Our next expansions will sustain a broader research output across all of the subject areas delineated by the Silicon Valley Index (people, economy, society, place, governance).
- Increase the depth and breadth of our research.
- Disseminate our findings more widely.
- Continue making our analysis accessible to a variety of audiences.
- Maintain the Institute's integrity and independence.
- Develop intentional processes for setting an annual research agenda, including mapping, gap analysis, and regular listening sessions.
- Expand our research capacity by recruiting additional staff, including generalists and specialists.
- Expand our network of research partners.
- Create an academic affiliate network and bring in academic fellows as needed.
- Provide dedicated Institute communications staff, including a data graphics specialist and a dedicated communications lead.
- Open new channels of communication, including podcasts, interactive web content, social media, video, essays in relevant periodicals, and other formats still in imagination.
- Invest in research tools and infrastructure, including software, platforms, and proprietary data services.
Pillar Two: Convening the Region
Joint Venture and its Institute aren't satisfied merely to report out a body of research. Our larger purposes are to engage the community with our findings, and to catalyze action by the region's leaders. Joint Venture is the only place that brings together the public sector, the private sector, labor, academia, and government around the same table. Our convenings provide an arena where actors can tackle shared challenges, monitor the vitality of the region, explore issues, and find solutions that we can design and implement together.
To do this with maximum efficacy, we need to create greater capacity to convene and facilitate, and we need to reach an even more diverse array of community voices. We seek to do this in a manner that promotes dialogue, breaks down silos, and creates space for innovative ideas.
- Bring people together around the data and across all the sectors—government, business, academia, education, labor, philanthropy, and the community at large—in ways that are accessible, timely, and inclusive.
- Expand our offerings to include deeper dives into topic-specific subjects that reflect our region's priorities.
- Continue to share our findings in neutral forums that are also accessible to general audiences, and expand the number of these.
- Catalyze action by facilitating dialogue informed by our analysis, then follow through with continuing convenings and updated assessments.
- Create a signature structure for hosting effective convenings of cross-sector leaders around regional data.
- Produce new varieties of region-focused events that gather more people. These might include webinars, podcasts, symposia, forums, lunch-time events, conferences, and other program formats.
- Host—when requested by the region's leaders—follow-up convenings and initiatives including blue ribbon task forces, working groups, and mutually reinforcing plans of action. Work with the Institute to support these follow-up meetings by providing updated measurements and assessments.
- Expand the reach of the annual State of the Valley conference.
- Create a similar-scale event around the release of the Silicon Valley Poll.
Pillar Three: Creating a Sustainable Organization
If Joint Venture succeeds, it is because of the region's trust. Silicon Valley leaders know they can count on our fresh, up-to-date data and our objective analysis. They also know they can benefit from the institution's long memory. Our 30-year resume allows us to frame our research in the context of history, leading change makers along the path from data and information to knowledge and wisdom.
Joint Venture's success over the next 30 years will depend on our ability to share our unique blend of context, research, and analysis with an ever-growing, ever-changing population. This will require a new funding model, one that maintains our core functions while sustaining growth.
- Develop and maintain diverse streams of funding to support the organization during its growth phase, and in an ongoing way when it reaches capacity.
- Grow an endowment which, over time, can provide additional operating support.
- Should the region's leaders see a specific need or opportunity, serve as a space for test pilots and experimentation, using a fiscal-sponsorship model.
- Create a development plan and provide development staff to search out new sources (planned giving, persons of high net worth, family offices), match the organization with the most effective funding streams, and cultivate meaningful two-way relationships with philanthropists.
- Explore the feasibility of creating an impact investment product in the form of an Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF).
- Convene the public sector entities (counties, cities, agencies) and introduce a formula system for supporting Joint Venture based on type and size.
- Mount a board-led campaign to enlist substantial support from C-level business leaders.
- Introduce a new and improved Investors Council whose members receive tangible benefits, including bi-annual briefings and preferential access to events and publications.
- Carry out an ongoing cadence of strategic planning.
HOW WE DO IT MATTERS: OUR CORE VALUES
It's all for naught if Joint Venture carries out its mission in a way that isn't inclusive, empowering, equitable, or collaborative. Nor can we succeed if we aren't listening, or if people don't think we are listening. The organization must continuously monitor the region's emerging priorities and model the best practices for engagement. On this basis, Joint Venture and its Institute will:
- Create new bodies and mechanisms for listening, including advisory boards and project-specific steering committees.
- Increase capacity for regional engagement (memberships in organizations and participation in community bodies, subscriptions).
- Implement model internal communications that ensure active listening and continuous feedback.
- Bridge divides and foster understanding by modeling civil discourse.
Underlying our work is a bedrock commitment to equity and social justice. We seek to broaden the voices involved in our work, to look beyond traditional power dynamics, and to model the change that we want to see in the world. This means we will:
- Continue to expand the equity metrics that we present.
- Strive to make our convenings diverse and inclusive.
- Increase the diversity of our team and our board.