Posts Tagged ‘Silicon Valley’
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008 from San Francisco, I wasn’t very excited about the move because I’m a technologist and moving away from the tech hub of the world to the land of Botox seemed like a really bad career move. I assumed that the people of Los Angeles were disingenuous, attention whores and didn’t know anything about technology.
My husband coerced me into moving to SoCal because he would rather get a tattoo of Tinkerbell than rent an over-priced faux-loft in San Francisco. He asserted that the Web 2.0 or tech startup people do the same thing day after day, go to the same bars, the same coffee shops and work on products that aren’t discernible from a pet rock, and are geared toward the same 100 bot followed Twitter celebrities that are stuck together with gorilla glue on a postage stamp.
I didn’t agree with him, of course, because I was having a great time riding my bike 1.2 miles every day to my favorite coffee shop and then to the music marketing tech startup where I worked. After a day of tweeting all of the awesome agile releases we did, I would head to my favorite bar in the Mission District and hangout with web celebrities hoping they would mention my name when they tweeted.
Once I moved my pod of stuff to the beach in Los Angeles, my world opened up like a fairytale pop-up book. My view on what was technically possible through the eyes of graffiti artists, photographers, entertainers, musicians, talented technologists and even surfers while having a 10 mile radius of personal space looked a lot more interesting. I began to realize that only hanging out with technologists allowed for a very narrow view on the world and that living within 46.9 square miles versus 100 times that was akin to living in an Amish community and trying to comment on the new Tesla Model X. Or a fish bowl, take your pick.
In 2010 I co-founded a tech startup and began to meet other people in the LA startup community and was pleasantly surprised to discover how many there were–and I was pleased to see how many are run by women. AngelList, a community of startups, lists 1400 startups and 1300 investors in LA and that’s just a subset of the total number.
Recently The Lean LA Startup Circle hosted a panel of LA Incubators led by the a well know Silicon Valley based Angel Investor, Dave McClure. Other than the fact the panel was all white men (something Dave pointed out and said that there is a real opportunity for women and people of color to start an incubator) it was very well moderated and full of useful nuggets for aspiring LA entrepreneurs.
Steve Blank recently wrote a great post about what to see in the Silicon Valley. You will get enormous practical and well informed advice.
Steve Blank is a retired serial entrepreneur, best known as a professor at both UC Berkeley and Stanford. He is also the author of the famous Customer Development model for early stage companies.
If you’re a visiting dignitary whose country has a Gross National Product equal to or greater than the State of California, your visit to Silicon Valley consists of a lunch/dinner with some combination of the founders of Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter and several brand name venture capitalists. If you have time, the President of Stanford will throw in a tour, and then you can drive by Intel or some Clean Tech firm for a photo op standing in front of an impressive looking piece of equipment.
The “official dignitary” tour of Silicon Valley is like taking the jungle cruise at Disneyland and saying you’ve been to Africa. Because you and your entourage don’t know the difference between large innovative companies who once were startups (Google, Facebook, et al) and a real startup, you never really get to see what makes the valley tick.
If you didn’t come in your own 747, here’s a guide to what to see in the valley (which for the sake of this post, extends from Santa Clara to San Francisco.) This post offers things to see/do for two types of visitors: I’m just visiting and want a “tourist experience” (i.e. a drive by the Facebook / Google / Zynga / Apple building) or “I want to work in the valley” visitor who wants to understand what’s going on inside those buildings.
Hackers’ Guide to Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is more of a state of mind than a physical location. It has no large monuments, magnificent buildings or ancient heritage. There are no tours of companies or venture capital firms. From Santa Clara to South San Francisco it’s 45 miles of one bedroom community after another. Yet what’s been occurring for the last 50 years within this tight cluster of suburban towns is nothing short of an “entrepreneurial explosion” on par with classic Athens, renaissance Florence or 1920’s Paris. Start the visit here