Singh reasoned that better salaries, lifestyles and new environments are key factors for the movement of Indian knowledge workers worldwide. "I like the relatively cleaner, pollution-free environment here, and the access to Indian foods. The infrastructure is definitely at par with the best in developed countries. We have the latest design and simulation tools along with the best test and measurement equipment. With the Net we also have easy and quick access to the latest in the field of our domain. There is freedom to experiment on something new and challenging."
Singh is one of 20 Indian nationals currently employed by Embedded Wireless Labs, a joint-venture research house near Kuala Lumpur that develops fixed wireless and last mile solution products for emerging economies.
Embedded Wireless has already spawned commercial entity Arcadian Wireless Inc and set up headquarters in Silicon Valley. The company typifies the cross-boundary collaborative nature of some newer players of the knowledge economy. Arcadian Wireless president Cheam Tat-Inn said the company maintains research and marketing arms in Malaysia and has an 18-man software team in Bangalore, while leveraging its San Francisco address for access to capital and partnerships.
The Valley, however, has its fair share of detractors. Rent-an-app pioneer BizTone.com Inc and financial solutions developer AccTrak21 Inc, both of Malaysian origins who made their debut there a year ago, have since had a change of heart.
"We found that it is unreasonably expensive to run a business and almost impossible to attract and retain staff in Silicon Valley," said BizTone.com CEO Darryl Carlton, whose company eventually pulled out and relocated to Denver, Colorado. Carlton lamented how knowledge workers there were constantly wanting to work on the "next new thing", and had much higher remuneration expectations with all stock option carrots floating around.
AccTrak21 managing director Tim Loving agreed the costs were prohibitive for a startup. "The R&D industry is intellect-based and people-intensive. A low staff turnover rate is absolutely critical. It pays to minimize all elements of people costs," he said. He added that in an Internet-driven world, geographical location may no longer be a pre-determinant for a successful software business.