Friday, October 12, 2007

Does Silicon Valley Matter?

The debate is back (continuing) with this post by the thoughtful Brian Oberkirch commenting on an exchange at the Future of Web Apps and a speech by Paul Graham (also note this follow up from Paul on why to move to a "startup hub")

Here is my reply:

Best thing I ever did — come back to Silicon Valley from Chicago in 1995. I say “back” because I grew up here, then lived in Chicago for over 10 years…

The reasons I came back are the same today:

(1) access to capital. Nowhere on earth is there more money being invested in startups than on Sand Hill Road. And even if they give lip service to investing in other markets, these VCs don’t want to travel and will prefer investments within 20 miles of their houses

(2) access to advice. Nowhere on earth is there a similar concentration of executive expertise in building a startup — all aspects from operations to strategy, to managing personalities — then in Silicon Valley

(3) access to talent. I can’t even recruit in Berkeley as well as I can in Palo Alto, and that is less than 50 miles.

(4) willingness to take risks. everyone in this market “gets it” from the office manager to the CMO, and understands the risk/reward paradigm of startup life

(5) low/no friction — accountants, lawyers, real estate — all know how to deal with startups which in other markets is RARE and sucks up a lot of valuable time

(6) oh yeah, and lastly, synergy with other startups that are doing similar interesting things. Which happens more easily when you see the people all the time in coffee shops, school fundraisers, etc. But you are right - that could happen by being nomadic. The other stuff? not so much.

Want to make your life easier in building a successful web company? Go west young man.