STANFORD, Calif.-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came away from his June 23 visit to Silicon Valley with some valuable takeaways, including an iPhone 4, his own Twitter account and a pledge of $1 billion in financial support from Cisco Systems.
Some people might say the iPhone 4 was the greatest prize, but that could be debatable.
Medvedev visited Twitter's San Francisco offices and opened a verified Twitter account-in Russian, of course. Following that, he and his motorcade made its way to San Jose to visit Cisco, where CEO John Chambers pledged that his company would invest $1 billion over a 10-year span to help establish a new technology sector in a Moscow suburb.
Medvedev then paid a visit to Apple's Cupertino headquarters, where CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs gave him the new iPhone.
Finally, the former law professor made a whistle-stop visit to Stanford University in Palo Alto, where he was greeted by two former U.S. secretaries of state on the Stanford faculty-George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice-and addressed a standing-room-only crowd here at Dinkelspiel Auditorium of about 500 guests and media members.
Medvedev's 18-minute speech-read off an Apple iPad-touched on little of IT substance, other than a brief overview of his administration's long-range goals for the citizens of his country and paying homage to Stanford as one of the creators of an IT industry that he wants to emulate in Russia.
"It was not by chance that I came here. I wanted to see with my own eyes the origin of success, how businesses are set up," Medvedev said. "High-tech, innovative businesses. Recently in my home city [of St. Petersburg], we hosted a conference that included representatives of many of the companies here in the valley. The most important point I heard is they are ready to work in Moscow."
Medvedev said former Intel CEO Craig Barrett would be among those heading up the development effort in Moscow.
Medvedev called on the audience-and, by extension, all of Silicon Valley-to work with Russia as it moves ahead to improve its place in international business.
"My goal is to make everybody feel and believe that if you work hard to change the world around you and to work within the framework of law, everybody has his chance to succeed," Medvedev said. "This is our policy, this is my policy."
Cisco says time is right for Russian investment
Easily the most important development of the day for Medvedev was Cisco's commitment to invest in Russia in five phases over the next decade.
Why does the world's No. 1 IT networking company believe Russia is fertile ground for future investment?
"Cisco feels the time is right to up the ante in Russia," Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White wrote June 24 in a report to clients.
"The company has previously made big bets in China [about 15 years ago], India [5 years ago] and more recently Mexico that are paying off. Russia has been identified by Cisco as one of the 30-plus market adjacencies for investment and the company now feels the time is right to catch this market transition."
Cisco's orders in Russia grew 31 percent year-over-year during the third financial quarter of 2010, White said.
"For Cisco, market adjacencies are important new opportunities that we believe will help the company deliver attractive growth prospects in the coming years and outpace most large-cap tech companies. Additionally, these opportunities eventually drive demand for the company's core routing and switching businesses," White said.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with more detail from the Stanford speech.