The highway that links Silicon Valley with San Francisco has the strangest billboards in the world

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

US Route 101 is the highway that connects Silicon Valley with San Francisco.

The highway itself is no different from any other road, but there’s one major difference: weird billboards.

Sure, you’ll find the standard fast food joint or car dealership signs along the way, but most of the billboards are served up by tech companies you’ve probably never heard of.

We recently took a drive up the 101 to see what companies advertise on Silicon Valley’s busiest highway.


Here’s a map of US 101. It’s one of the two highways that link Silicon Valley with San Francisco (I-280 is the other one). The highway runs all the way up to the state of Washington.

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Google Maps

There’s usually lots of traffic, so it’s a good place to advertise.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

You’ll find some big company billboards, like Apple’s.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

And Yahoo’s.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

But a lot of them aren’t really household names. NetSuite is a company that makes software for finance people. In case you’re wondering, ERP stands for “enterprise resource planning.”

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Xero’s in the same space, but it’s more focused on accounting.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Most people have no clue what these companies do. Twilio has a good tip: just ask your developer.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

There were at least 3 Brighterion signs on our short 30 minute drive. Apparently, it makes fraud prevention software.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Never heard of Braintree? It’s the payments technology behind apps like Uber, Airbnb, and Hotel Tonight.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Speaking of Uber, it’s now the most valuable startup in the world, at $66 billion.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Apttus makes software for salespeople. It has nothing to do with cyborgs.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Confused? It basically means MemSQL is a data storage and analytics company. It’s raised over $78 million so far.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Lyft had the strangest sign: a pink-colored van.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

UCSF isn’t just any hospital. It’s a hospital named after Salesforce’s billionaire CEO Marc Benioff.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Salesforce, by the way, is the largest tech employer in San Francisco.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Self-driving cars are all the buzz in Silicon Valley, and Udacity had a clever take on the trend. It offers free online courses.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

AppLovin was recently acquired for $1.4 billion by a Chinese private equity firm, Orient Hontai Capital.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Z2 is the name of the new product by Zenefits, the once-troubled, $2 billion startup.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Read more about the launch of Zenefits Z2 here.


Nest, the home automation company owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, had its own sign too.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

CallidusCloud is a public company with a market cap of $1.1 billion. They basically sell sales and marketing people a bunch of tools to close deals faster.

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Business Insider/Eugene Kim

Of all the signs we saw, this was our favorite: Machine learning startup H2O.ai wishing a happy Diwali to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, celebrated this year on October 30.

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Business Insider

Here are some great photos of Diwali celebrations.