The Best of Silicon Valley 2020

Could 2020 have gone any better?

Introduction | Food & Drink | Shopping & Services | Arts & Culture | Hall Of Fame Winners

First, that weird virus everybody was worried about in February turned out to be totally mild and disappeared "like a miracle," just like the president said it would. Then white people across the country united to embrace the message of racial equality promoted by the Black Lives Matter movement, finally bringing an end to centuries of discriminatory laws and police enforcement. Man, that was beautiful!

Remember how that freak lightning storm they thought would set the entire state of California on fire just burned, like, one tree? So lucky. Don't even get us started on that amazing cybernetic body Silicon Valley engineers designed for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ensuring she will sit on the Supreme Court forever.

Yes, everything sure did go perfectly this... wait, there's no such thing as full-body cybernetic replacement! Holy crap, that whole last paragraph was a dream—a beautiful, beautiful dream. Upon further review, it's clear 2020 sucks and we took some of the hardest hits in Santa Clara County, as Northern California's epicenter of Covid-19. That led to the country's first shelter-in-place mandate, which crushed local businesses and six months later, the county remains one of the most restrictive in the state.

The only reason we haven't cratered entirely is that businesses have basically reinvented themselves to get through this pandemic. Sure, that includes the tech titans the world associates with Silicon Valley, but even more the neighborhood dive bars, diners, shops and theaters that make residents feel at home.

Restaurants-turned-part-grocer are spilling onto sidewalks and into once-quiet streets for outdoor dining. Retailers that formerly banked on bringing customers into their brick-and-mortar spaces have revamped their online shopping catalogues. Film festivals that would normally be underway have turned virtual and one San Jose theater, 3Below, is even taking to the roof to show movies.

These innovators are pointing the way forward in a way that full-body cybernetic replacement can't (yet).

The Small Business Administration predicts many businesses won't make it to the end of the pandemic. But Silicon Valley is used to leading the way out of the dark, just as it did in the last recession. The region is already emerging as a leader as its brightest minds work on vaccines and testing advancements and its businesses—large and small—show the world how to adapt to the unexpected.

Metro readers chose the best of those businesses as the winners of our annual balloting earlier this year, a year that might mean more for their future than ever before. Let's get out there and support the people, places and causes that give us hope that life can be a beautiful dream for all of us.