Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Valley vs. The Emerald City

I don't know, how about we call this one an opinion piece. So the New York Times published an article about how Seattle is becoming the next Silicon Valley. Glenn Kelman of Redfin then commented on it favorably. Then TechCrunch's Michael Arrington disagreed. And now the rest of the world is throwing in their two cents. So I thought, why shouldn't I add my thoughts to the ether.

I spent the better part of the last 5 years working in Seattle as a software developer. In August I transfered to our San Francisco office for a change of scenery. I can't claim any real insight from a start-up perspective. I have friends who have done start-ups, I've consulted for start-ups, but I've never been a part of starting my own, and I may never, who knows.

I have a hard time believing that your likelihood of success can so be so heavily weighted by your location. Sure, being in Silicon Valley, amidst all the others can have its advantages, especially when it comes time to start raising money or recruiting new talent. But good ideas can come from anywhere, be it Stanford or rural Saskatchewan.

If you take a look at my Shelfari reading list on the right (a Seattle based start-up that one of my good friend's from college help found) you'll see I am in the middle of reading "Founders at Work". I find this book to be pretty interesting, and one of the most interesting things I have pulled from it is that you don't have to be in Silicon Valley to succeed. Sure a lot of the companies profiled are based in the valley, but certainly not all of them, and the ones that weren't don't seem to have been at a disadvantage because of it. Their keys to success are having a good idea and having smart, motivated people making that idea reality.

You can live in San Francisco and try to start as many Twitter and Digg clones as you like, good luck with that. But its the next big thing that matters, and that can come from anywhere.

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