A statue of the inventor Nikola Tesla -- equipped with free Wi-Fi and a time capsule to be opened in 2043 -- was unveiled in Palo Alto on Dec. 7.
Resident Dorrian Porter thought the perfect symbol of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley would be the early 1900s inventor, who is also the namesake of local electric-car company Tesla Motors.
Porter commissioned Menlo Park artist Terry Guyer to design a bronze statue of the inventor, who was credited for making huge strides in the development of alternating current and wireless electricity.
Palo Alto's public art is often on the receiving end of scoffs and chuckles, with aesthetic sensibilities that range from eclectic to eccentric. Between a giant egg and a running girl with a car for a head, there are many examples of Palo Alto's avant-garde artistic leanings. But the Tesla sculpture is an immensely practical piece of art being brought to the city without funding from the city's Public Art Commission.
Porter launched a successful Kickstarter.com campaign to raise $127,000 from 722 donors in 30 days, one of whom -- an anonymous family foundation -- put in $20,000 at the 11th hour to push the project over its goal.
Local Palo Alto developer Harold Hohbach has provided the commercial property at 260 Sheridan Ave., where the statue is situated, Porter said.
Porter founded Northern Imagination LLC this year to enable the pursuit of creative projects, ideas and inventions. The company's goal is to advance new ideas in any area that can impact the well being and happiness of people, especially involving film or photography and ideally related to education and poverty, according to the company website.
Northern Imagination produced a short animated video to imagine what it would be like for Tesla to pitch modern venture capitalists. The video spread rapidly on social media, particularly among the startup community, generating more than 230,000 views in a short space of time.
The inclusion of free Wi-Fi is fitting for Tesla, who some say dreamed of creating a more efficient system of wireless power for the entire planet. Tesla's inventions are widely credited as a critical part of the foundation of modern electricity transfer and wireless data transmission, Porter noted.
"This unique project pays respect to a great inventor who never had the historical recognition he deserved. But it also is intended to inspire the entrepreneurs who come to the Silicon Valley to think big and selflessly -- as Tesla did -- on important opportunities like energy and wireless. The free exchange of information and affordable access to sustainable energy have the potential to solve the critical issues of poverty and education, and inspire peace," Porter said.
Supporting Silicon Valley companies of the project include GoAnimate, Nvidia, First Republic Bank (Menlo Park), and TVU networks.
More details can be found at www.teslastatue.com.