Silicon Valley Insights with Tesla Motors’ Otto Fabri

In an effort to bridge the gap between the burgeoning Czech tech market and Silicon Valley power players, STRV invited Otto Fabri, an engineer and designer at Tesla Motors, to talk about how he managed to jump from the Czech Technical University in Prague to one of the world's leading carmakers in just four years.

The sold-out fireside discussion between Otto and STRV COO Lubo Smid, held in a screening hall at Cinema City Slovansky dum in the Prague city center, was the first official installment of our Silicon Valley Insights series.

Lubo Smid officially opens our first Silicon Valley Insights event
Lubo Smid officially opens our first Silicon Valley Insights event

“We have a lot of really amazing contacts in Silicon Valley, from Tesla to InVision and Dropbox, and we thought it would be a great idea to invite them here to share their insights on what it's like to work in one of the hottest IT markets in the world right now,” Lubo told the crowd. “This is just one of our ways of giving back to the tech community.”

After graduating in 2007 with a master's degree in mechanical engineering, Otto worked for a variety of automotive giants, including Volkswagen in Mexico, before landing a prime position with the Tesla design team in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011.

Otto Fabri sharing his experiences
Otto Fabri sharing his experiences

“The IT industry in California is bringing in talent from all over the world. The state and the country are used to this. There are a lot of accepting people there,” Otto said. “The people and the weather – those are the two things I love the most. Silicon Valley is all about people, and the people create the vibe” … and the vibe is something along the lines of “nothing is impossible.”

“The companies and startups in Silicon Valley never say something is impossible. They want to find solutions. That's what I love,” said Otto, who is currently working on Tesla's Model S and Model X. “What's expected of you, is to come up with something new and innovative.”

In general, management at Silicon Valley firms are pretty accessible, Otto noted, pointing out a key difference between how things are run on the California tech scene versus the European tech scene.

“They want to suck the ideas out of employees. That's why they were hired,” Otto added. “You go to school to learn about these tools. Silicon Valley is the place where these tools get created.”

But getting there is not necessarily easy. Otto admits there is a bit of luck involved.

“The biggest obstacle is getting a visa. You'll need a company to sponsor you. It’s a complicated process to get a work visa,” said Otto. But “everything is fast in Silicon Valley. If they want you, they want you yesterday.”

Otto fielded questions from the audience, providing anecdotes on his career trajectory and trends within the U.S. car industry. Following the presentation, Otto gave audience members an in-person tour of Tesla's Model S, which just happened to be parked in the Slovansky dum courtyard. (Thanks, Liftago!)

Otto Fabri and Lubo Smid closing the official part of the event
Otto Fabri and Lubo Smid closing the official part of the event

Tesla's Model S in the Slovansky dum courtyard
Tesla's Model S in the Slovansky dum courtyard

After-party at STRV office
After-party at STRV office

STRV plans on hosting a Silicon Valley Insights event once a month. We will post more information here on our blog and Facebook page, so stayed tuned!

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