There is an often-overlooked reason why the innovation centre of the world is not in New York, London or any of the world's other metropolises, but the 466.1km² strip of the US West Coast known as Silicon Valley. It isn't the weather, or the proximity to a renowned computer science university like Stanford, although both undoubtedly help. Instead, much of the tech hub's status can be attributed to an oddity of California law. The state refuses to recognise the "noncompete agreements" in employment contracts, commonly used by companies to prevent staff from jumping ship to a rival, or running off to start their own business. With employees able to move jobs at ease, ideas and knowledge spread rapidly, a key ingredient of the area's success. But the laws prohibiting such agreements also give workers at tech companies a power those elsewhere do not enjoy. When there is nothing stopping you from switching teams, your present employer must work harder to keep you on side. Silicon Valley'...

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