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The CEO for Silicon Valley's CEOs

March 9, 2012 |  5:03 pm

Carl Guardino
Carl Guardino is a CEO, but perhaps like no other -- head of a group of more than 350 CEOs. That may not sound out of the ordinary, but these CEOs head some of the most important companies in Silicon Valley.

In a place where the really important people are in "cutoffs and flip-flops," Guardino is the guy in the suit, the guy with a degree in political science -- "the only true science" -- not in engineering.

But he grew up in Silicon Valley when the area was still the "Valley of Heart's Delight" and full of orchards, not start-ups. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group he heads is a business organization like few others. It endorses many business-friendly reforms in governance and tax matters, but it is also committed, like its founder David Packard of Hewlett-Packard, to making Silicon Valley livable for the have-nots as well as the super-haves. His board members are on board with measures that put housing and transit within reach for teachers and police officers and firefighters and waitresses and car repair shop employees who live and work there too. "The fabric of the valley," he says, "is contingent on all of those people's success."

Silicon Valley is a model many other places would like to copy. "A friend once designed a map of the U.S. called 'the Siliconia of the United States,' all the regions wanting to capture the magic and imagination [of] Silicon Valley." To make that happen, says Guardino, those places too will have to care about the quality-of-life issues for all of the local population, not just the CEOs' employees.

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-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Carl Guardino talks with reporters after meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown in March 2011. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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