Dynamist Blog

Why Silicon Valley Persists

Randall Stross has a nice column in today's NYT on why Silicon Valley persists as the nation's startup center, despite perennial predictions that money and talent will disperse to cheaper regions. I particularly liked this point, which gets beyond the obvious explanation that venture capitalists don't like to travel:

Entrepreneurs who live in Silicon Valley also find the technical talent they need faster than they can in any other place; they pay more for that talent, but speed is the sine qua non for success. Seth J. Sternberg, the chief executive of Meebo, an instant-messaging company in Palo Alto that is backed by Sequoia, described Silicon Valley with the fervent appreciation of a recent transplant from New York, where he had suffered three separate bad experiences with start-ups, none of which had attracted venture funding.

The ecosystem in Silicon Valley, Mr. Sternberg said, includes "incredible techies, who live here because this is the epicenter, where they can find the most interesting projects to work on." The ecosystem also includes real estate agents, accountants, head hunters and lawyers who understand an entrepreneur's situation--that is, emptied bank accounts and maxed-out credit cards.

As it happens, last night Professor Postrel read me Paul Graham's excellent essay, "How to Make Wealth", whose emphasis on speed complements the Stross piece. For those who prefer their essays in bound form, I recommend Graham's Hackers and Painters, which is definitely not of interest only to geeks. My mother (a sometime painter, but mostly a literary writer) picked it up on a visit to our house and, after reading a few essays, declared that they should use it in college composition classes. She should know, since she used to teach them.

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