Several companies have launched offices in Silicon Valley lately, but they're not startups. Instead they are well-known companies looking for some Silicon Valley innovation: Target, General Electric, Ford, BMW and Johnson & Johnson.
The outposts are there to find new ideas and expose the company to new technology, according to the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps they remember the first days of e-commerce and want to make sure they're on the ground floor of the next big thing. From the article:
Companies from around the world—including retailers and old-line industrial giants—ventured to California to tap some of Silicon Valley's culture based on risk taking, speed, innovation and both hypercompetition and collaboration.
For BMW, that meant getting a partnership with Apple, and kind of winning the geographic lottery.