Infrastructure: Los Angeles



This Silicon Beach Nonsense Needs to Stop Already

Forbes magazine had an article today entitled, Why Los Angeles Will Outpace Silicon Valley As The Tech Startup Capital, and I think I probably lost more brain cells reading it then drinking a dirty martini at the Varnish. 

The author believes LA is gonna be bigger than Silicon Valley because of the following:

… LA needs tech talent that is interested in entrepreneurship… And for those that need coffee shops to work out of, LA has quite a few that house world barista champions…Fantastic weather, lots of space, entertainment  and media experts, and lots of tech talent means that Los Angeles is fast becoming the city of choice to run a tech startup.”

Now, I love LA and tech and everything in between. And I want Silicon Beach to be here and alive today. But if those reasons from the article are the primary drivers as to why LA is going to be bigger than Silicon Valley then…I’m not sure if we live in the same LA or know the same tech talent.  Typically, I have no problem with these kinds of statements when they’re made by anyone, but I do get scared when they’re echoed by public officials.

And when Elected Officials and people running for office start talking about this Silicon Beach nonsense…then I have a real problem.

Mainly, because they should know better, and they have staffs that should do the work to know better.  

Here are the couple reasons why this Silicon Beach idea, as discussed in that above article is ludicrous.


First, there is a giant lack of VC funding in Los Angeles, when compared to Valley.  There is no PayPal Mafia, instead you have a lot of media executives.  Those media executives are also the same companies that created SOPA, which was the bill that wanted to destroy all the innovation from the internet.  Fat chance they’ll fund your startup that is going to put them out of business. 
Hackers/Lack of talent

Along with lack of VC funding, there is also a large lack of tech talent.  While, the beach, SoCal sun is attractive to most people.  Have you ever seen a hacker?
Does this guy look like he cares about the beach and warm weather? Instead, he’s probably worried about the other guys at the hackathon…which looks like this:
Do these guys look like they care about the sun?  The talented people in the world will  always go to where the best talent is, because the best want to compete with the best.  It’s the same reason why the best basketball players in the world play in the NBA, and why many of the best recruits go to NCAA rather than international play (that is if they pass their SATs, Brandon Jennings I’m looking at you). 
So to try and sell tech talent that LA is better than Man Jose is just a pipe dream. The funding is north in Silicon Valley (keep in mind most of the funders are also former hackers and tech geeks themselves so they relate much better to the current crop of tech talent), and the new crop of tech talent care more about just hacking and making things better that good baristas and weather is just not that enticing.
False impression of Google/Facebook/etc.
The LA Times wrote an article about Silicon Beach  and mention how LA is becoming a more legitimate contender because Google, Facebook, etc. have opened offices in LA.  Well, while that is true…those Silicon Valley titans aren’t staffing their LA offices with tech talent.  Instead they’re typically sales related positions.  So, while those titans do indeed have offices in LA, they’re not the offices that are making the magic sauce.  And while those other firms mentioned in the article are legit companies in their own right, you can easily see the number of talent that moves from LA to Silicon Valley.  I’m going to take a guess, and I think I have a good idea where that tech talent is coming from. 
Lack of City Investment

NY City has recently tried to cash into the startup culture and promoted their  Silicon Alley.  And recently NYC, led by the Bloomberg Administration has tried to create a culture of startup talent with the Tech College.  NYC is actively trying to change the culture with the hiring of individuals like Rachel Sterne and have let her get creative. As well NYC is investing a ton of money on creating a digital city and has actually developed a blueprint on how they plan on getting there. NYC even has a strategic plan on integrating technology into the city and how people use technology when dealing with the city.

LA has done nothing like this, and still has no plans on how to do this.  But this is LA, so this is what they’re planning:

I want to be clear, that I do not think Los Angeles isn’t a good place for startups.  

Far from it.  

LA is a great area for a DIY artist or entrepreneur can be quite successful.  But to think that LA will ever rival Silicon Valley in tech start ups is just flat out bat shit crazy.