165 University Avenue: Silicon Valley's 'lucky building'

Giacomo Marini tells Peter Day about relocating Logitech from Switzerland to Silicon Valley.

When the entrepreneurs behind Swiss technology firm Logitech wanted to take their business to the next level, they moved it to Silicon Valley.

"We decided that it was important for us to be at the centre of the universe for the computer industry," says Giacomo Marini, one of the company's founders.

It proved a wise decision. Today, Marini has parted ways with Logitech but is still based in the Valley where he runs a venture capital firm. And the company he helped to create is one of the world's largest manufacturers of peripheral devices for computers, best known for its mice, keyboards and webcams.

Marini says that choosing to relocate to Silicon Valley was essential to Logitech's success.

"I don't think we could have done this staying in Europe at the time."

Growth

Arriving in the early 1980s, Marini and his colleagues established themselves at 165 University Avenue - a non-descript, low-rise suite of offices in downtown Palo Alto which would later acquire a reputation as a 'lucky building' when Logitech and other tenants went on to achieve remarkable success.

As the business took off and the company grew, Logitech experienced a pattern of expansion which would become familiar to later tenants like Google and PayPal.

"It was a very small building," recalls Marini.

"And little by little, we took over more suites. We occupied probably about 75% of the building. We expanded to the building next door."

"We were actually even probably violating Palo Alto city code. We drilled a hole between the two buildings to have an internet cable connecting the offices in the two buildings," he remembers.

"I think luck played an important role in our success, like often in the success of people and companies."

"But also persistence is important. So being at the right time and in the right place, but sometimes you have to be persistent and know that it's coming. And even if it does not happen immediately you still continue to pursue your dream or your project or your vision."

"I think that that was another important component of what we did and what successful companies do."

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