The British can make strong claims to the invention of the computer (Babbage) and the World Wide Web (Tim Berners-Lee) but examine the DNA of the modern world of technology and it’s mainly American with a strong Northern Californian flavor. Ariba, Oracle, Google, Twitter – Silicon Valley born and bred.
But it’s not just Americans that are behind this innovation. This phenomenon has more to do with geography. Two of the most interesting innovators in the P2P space, Taulia and Tradeshift, although San Francisco based, are European – well their founders are. Why is it so important, indeed, is it important, for tech start-ups to have a Bay Area address?
I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and took the opportunity to speak to Christian Hjorth, Head of Sales at Tradeshift and Bertram Meyer, CEO of Taulia to understand why Silicon Valley is still important.
San Francisco is the the citiest city I know. There’s an unsettling juxtaposition between the billion dollar businesses and a street community of crack whores and mentally ill homeless people. This is, I’m reliably informed, a healthy illustration of the eccentricity, diversity and tolerance that makes the city unique. Even if, like me, you think that sounds a bit too close to an excuse, there is something very exciting and different about San Francisco and the draw it has on the tech community. It is a unique environment that beckons the best brains and it remains the innovation hub that makes it a must for serious technology start-ups.
It doesn’t make sense. The world is now networked to the point that it makes no difference where in the world you are. You’re connected in real time to your bank, your work, your family your government. You could operate a global organization from a single central location. Global shared services centers thrive and their location is based solely on local labor costs. Why then do tech starts up still gravitate towards Silicon Valley? What is is about those few square miles? Take a look at this video to get some insights.
I don’t know what it is about the setting sun but it seems to help new ideas thrive. “The West is the best. Get here, and we’ll do the rest” (Jim Morrison)
Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin