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San Francisco or Palo Alto for a new startup?
10 points by waleedka 3938 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments



Go for San Francisco:

1. Space The rents are actually in many cases less here than in other parts of the valley. (My office is $1 per s.f. per month!) A huge building boom is finishing up in the SOMA area of the City with hundreds (maybe 1000+) new apartments entering the market. This is good news for downward pressure on rental prices.

2. Convenience: Within walking distance of both my office and my apartment are countless restaurants, markets, office supplies, banks, etc etc. You can simply walk to what you need saving so much time over driving around on errands in rush hour traffic in the South Bay. There are countless take-out food restaurants open until late at night to keep you coding with a reasonable diet, with many delivering to your door. (Chinese takeout costs about $7 for a main item - roughly $10 for a meal)

3. Coolness: There are a lot of web companies in the city because it is such a great place to live. Attracting hackers to work for you may be easier here. Even the Large Corporate Web companies are setting up major operations in the City:

http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2007/01/15/story22.html http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/archives/2005/08/yahoo_leasing_san_francisco_of.html

4. Life Style: For those moments when you're not all-nightering on a problem, you have many options here: a. Sailing in the Bay b. Biking - across the Golden Gate and you are into nature in no time. c. Beach - Many beaches in the area d. Skiing - As close as 2.5 - 3 hours away for some great slopes. d. Symphony/Opera/Theater/Movies galore, etc etc etc e. Night Life - Live music, etc etc etc. f. Wine Country - Only an hour drive to Napa County/Sonoma County - countless vineyards - great wine.

5. Variety: San Francisco has many different neighborhoods that have entirely different cultures. A few blocks in different directions will let you experience the unexpected. (Usually good, ocassionally bad)

6. Ok, you're right, I'm biased. I love living in the City.

7. Downside: The VC's and many angels are in the South Bay, but thats only a 30-40 min. drive away - or Caltrain ride.


The Yscraper is in a lame part of San Francisco, if you are a young person. The building is lame, too... unless you like living in an apartment that is like a college dorm or old folks home.

Regarding SF vs Palo Alto. SF is way more fun. But keep in mind historical patterns. How many successful startups have been started in SF? How many have been started up in the valley?

Valley based startups are more successful, simply because there is nothing else to do down there.


What do you find lame about North Beach? I kinda like that part of town myself.


In Manhattan terms, it is a "bridge and tunnel" part of town. That is, nothing happens until the weekends - when all the tourists and people coming in from Pinole or Fremont show up to party. The locals are pretty sketchy - lots of tweaker cab driver or bartender types. The tourist party animal types are kind of gross also - many 2nd tier businessmen coming into town to get wasted and go to all the strip clubs.

I much prefer the mission for nightlife and neighborhoods like Cole Valley for living.


I think it depends on the focus of your startup. My perception is that SF is more media-centric, with lots of designers and media professionals, while South Bay is more "nerdy" and enterprise-centric, with lots of hardcore hackers.

Regarding "where to live": I currently live in Mountain View, but I would move to SF if I could afford (although MV is not that cheap either!). SF is an awesome city.


I live in Mountain View and go to SF for fun, of which there is plenty to be had.

Rent is a factor of course. I'm currently in a nice 2-bed town-house close to downtown mv, for $1700/month.


Has anyone ever been slightly anxious with regards to the city, and then gotten over it? I grew up in a small town and whenever I go into sf, I just don't like it all that much. (I suspect this has something to do with the area of town around the Warfield, Fillmore, GAMS, etc). Is there anywhere that its easy to keep (and work on) a car while still being fairly connected to the rest of the city?


I find Mountain View a good fit. Close enough to investors. Far enough away from anything resembling real night-life (because I'm here to work...really, really, work). I'll move to the city when I don't want to work anymore. I'm sure the city works for some startups, but I don't think it would work for me.


No night-life in MV? C'mon, how about Molly McGee?? :)


How soon do you want to go broke? The Bay Area is a big place and all you need to get started is a laptop.


I'm moving to Silicon Valley to work on my startup and be closer to the entrepreneurial community. Should I rent in San Francisco or somewhere around Stanford? How about the YScraper?


Consensus seems to be "Live in San Francisco, commute to the Valley."

San Franciso is a much cooler place to be than Palo Alto/Menlo Park/Mountain View. YScraper's probably a good bet, I imagine it's getting pretty popular though.


Anyone owns a car in San Francisco? Or should I sell my car?


I own a car, but use it only for driving to meetings (where a bike jersey is not the appropriate attire), shopping, or leaving town. The transit system here is very good, and the bike lane system is getting better all the time (the bike lobby has growing political clout in the city). Also, parking is a &^^ as the city uses tickets as a big revenue stream, so if you are illegal for only a few minutes, you'll get a ticket. You will also save time by not having to park.

The downside is that the Muni rail system is not entirely reliable. Normally it takes me 30 minutes from door to door via Muni (N line - when it's raining which isn't that often), but it can take up to 50 if there is a problem which is about 20% of the time. (Biking takes me 20 minutes or less). Of course if you work out of your apartment, commuting is a non issue.


Where is the "YScraper"? I'm looking to move out to the area and wouldn't mind joining the entrepreneurial crowd in YScraper.


It's no secret if you watch justin.tv a little:

http://www.google.com/search?q=crystal+tower%2C+san+francisco


add in "justin" to that search and it gets a whole lot more fun.




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