[FoRK] today

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at jarbox.org
Sat Jun 1 10:25:48 PDT 2013

On May 31, 2013, at 3:09 PM, Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
> On 5/31/13 12:05 PM, Aaron Burt wrote:
>> It's beyond me how anything gets done there, with the chronic talent
>> shortage (at least while VC money is flowing.)  NYC is worse, though.  No
>> idea why it's so hard to lure techies there, but it's making my job harder.
> Been there, done that...  A good financial geek friend just escaped to California from NYC after a year of working on it.

A prominent difference is that NYC startups tend to lack hardcore engineering cultures. NYC has such geeks, they just don't work at the startups there. I suspect this makes Silicon Valley startups more attractive to many techies, ceteris paribus. 

> Real substance and value over marketing and appearance and shallow lemming herds.  

I totally get that Silicon Valley is the latter but where is this mythical place that is about "real substance and value"? 

> 13 years ago, I did several passes at fundraising in NYC, DC, Seattle, and the Bay Area.  The NYC groups (30 or 40 of them) were all shallow finance types.  On the West Coast, every single VC/angel was an engineer.  Game over.

The venture capital landscape has changed significantly since 2000. Your experience from then will not reflect the current experience.

The engineer VC is a dying breed. Silicon Valley VCs have regressed to the mean and the VCs in other parts of the country have noticeably improved. Relatively few VCs require their investments to be local any more but the current generation is also far less interested in hardcore technology than they used to be (see: lack of engineer VCs).

There are a few cities now in the US where VCs from everywhere will invest even though there may be a relative paucity of local VCs (e.g. Seattle). The challenge is not raising venture capital in those cities, it is that you have to get on a plane to raise it.

> Maybe it's better now.  No reason to investigate.

It depends on what you are looking for. Silicon Valley does not offer the slate of compelling advantages that it did a decade or more ago. I could make the case that both NYC and Seattle are better alternatives to Silicon Valley in important ways, though for different reasons.

NYC is quite good now for a certain type of startup and person. However, for hardcore tech geeks I would not recommend it. As a caveat, the VC community there is more insular and informally collusive than it probably should be. 

Seattle (and the Pacific Northwest broadly) has become the top alternative to Silicon Valley for hardcore engineering geeks. The engineering talent density and quality rivals Silicon Valley, hence why most top Silicon Valley companies have large campuses in Seattle. Average engineer take-home pay is actually higher than Silicon Valley. Quality of life is off the charts for a US city, much better than Santa Clara county. However, there is a paucity of local venture capital and so the region imports a ton of it. 

Silicon Valley still has a number of things going for it but many of its traditional advantages have waned over time. For some tech startup people living in Silicon Valley, moving to places like NYC or Seattle would be a legitimate improvement, particularly given the rapidly growing prominence of their ecosystems. 

More information about the FoRK mailing list