How One of Silicon Valley’s Oldest Companies Survived Tech’s Biggest Transitions

In an industry that celebrates newcomers and disruptors, tech companies over a decade old take on the air of grizzled veterans. Still, some Silicon Valley companies manage to ride out the cycles. Founded in 1939 and still going, Hewlett Packard is famous for its longevity and its founding garage, where tourists can still drop by to visit the “birthplace of Silicon Valley.”

In an insightful book, Becoming Hewlett Packard, writers Robert Burgelman and Philip Meza and former HP executive Webb McKinney outline HP’s rise and evolution over the decades.

The company got its start in the age of vacuum tubes and survived the age of the transistor, the age of integrated circuits and microprocessors, and on into today’s fast-changing tech world. In an interview with Lisa Kay Solomon, chair of Transformational Practices at Singularity University, Meza and coauthor McKinney explain what HP got right (and not so right) over the years.

“Very few tech companies are able to make a single fundamental transition in technology, and HP survived probably five, six, or seven of them. So, there’s something there that’s worth studying,” Meza said.

Image Credit: Sergey Panychev /

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Singularity Hub Staff
Singularity Hub Staff
Singularity Hub chronicles technological progress by highlighting the breakthroughs and issues shaping the future as well as supporting a global community of smart, passionate, action-oriented people who want to change the world.
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