But even besides that, it still makes sense. While it is true that there are many people all around the world with the skills necessary for working at a startup, many of them congregate in SF. If you want the largest possible hiring pool and you're set on having a physical office, SF will give you the deepest pool, since you probably can't afford to pay to move someone to SF.
I'm personally running my company fully remote so I can tap into the talent that has chosen not to move to SF (despite being here myself), and I suspect that trend will continue to grow, making it more likely for more companies to not be based in SF. On the flip side, even if the talent is elsewhere, it's still a huge advantage for our HQ and me to be here, because it's where all the investors and advisors are.
That's an assumption that sounds right and is probably true, but I haven't really seen anything concrete to back that up.
If the demand for SE's outpaces the supply (in other words, if there are more jobs than people to fill them), then the effective availability could be smaller than other tech centers, even if SF has the most total number of SE's.
The (in)famous "Y Scraper" https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-Y-scraper
Back when swatting was considered "fairly funny": https://techcrunch.com/2007/03/23/police-raid-justintv-more-...
Back then Justin was pretty much the only person you could swat. There weren't a lot of online streamers back then. They sort of pioneered the space. :)
Good companies are not just the product they ship.
A little off topic, but what software does YC develop?
Obviously there's HN, Bookface, and there's probably a bit of web development that needs doing for things like the Top 100 companies list, is there much else?
More generally, I realise that YC is a tech incubator so they're likely to develop software for things that other companies wouldn't, but do they really need a dev team? The blog could be Wordpress/etc, HN and Bookface could be Discourse. Is it all being over-engineered? Is there a large dev team where other organisations of a similar size might have one or two IT people?
Here are some of the things we build that you might not be thinking of:
https://apply.ycombinator.com/ - the whole process of receiving and processing 10,000 YC applications / batch
https://workatastartup.com - a site to help people find jobs at a startup
https://startupschool.org/ - a free online course in how to start a startup
https://leap.ycombinator.com/ - a private community for women in tech
It seems odd that this doesn't appear to scale with population size. One would expect many multiples of people with these skills in cities with higher populations.
As I said, I hope this trend reverses as more people accept remote work as a good way to do business. But until then, it is what it is.
At the very least, those who believe the most interesting jobs are in SF congregate there. And people who create jobs matching that belief do it there.
Just off the top of my head: PagerDuty has a large office in Toronto. GitLab and Zapier are very remote-first focused, I'm sure there's a dozen more on that list.
The problem is that almost all of these companies started out in the Bay Area when they did YC there. It's hard to find up to date information about how SF-centric they are now that they've matured, but it's easy to assume that they are by default.
This feels as useful as talking about incorporation state (so much Delaware!). I'd love to see more data about how distributed companies are these days vs being monolithic offices in SF.
It's incorrect to be in the delusion that you have to move to the valley to be a top company, but that depends on the definition of top, which here is valuation and it's hard to beat valuations that the Silicon Valley can afford and help realise because of the ecosystem that's formed over the years.
YC is based in the USA, so it's not really a surprise that you'd have to move there to be a top YC company.
You can build a top company anywhere in the world, even if your definition is that of valuation, the process remains by and large the same that YC advocates in documents such as the startup playbook and the startup school courses (the parlance may be different in material from different sources), and I believe that it gets easier to build a top company where you are if you make your own definition of top as valuations could be deceiving.
You don't necessarily have to move to SV to make a top company by valuation, top YC company: stats suggest yes, but I still believe there's slim chances you could do it from anywhere, YC tries hard to be inclusive, however their location presents them with constraints, hence the stats.
To decide where to move in order to build a top company, first understand what is your definition of a top company and whether you really want to disrupt your life, move to the valley, and build what the world calls a top company.
PS - No disrespect to valuations, the Silicon Valley or anyone's ideologies.
If you define success differently, it's all up for grabs. If you want to build the next Uber, you are giving yourself a bigger shot (and tough competition) by moving to SF. Of course, companies like Mailchimp are massively successful outside of the bubble but there just isn't the same pressure and rising tide in a city like Atlanta than there is in SF.
I suspect many people end up in the Bay Area not to risk it all, disrupt their lives and start a company but simply because they got an awesome job at a growing company. Further down the line the scene makes them consider 'maybe I could do this too'.
FWIW, I got advice when starting my business to move out of the Bay Area and somewhere way cheaper to extend my runway. I'm glad I didn't because even with smaller monthly expenses I'd lose out on the small network I have and the luck afforded to me simply by being here.
Actually I would instead say "Do you want to build a top company fast?"
If you are willing to grow organically, nobody cares where you are located. In fact, you are probably better to be located in a decent place that is a little off the beaten path.
However, if you want to do the VC dance to "Go big or go home", then you probably need to be in Silicon Valley.
My old stomping grounds in Los Angeles made a good showing (Hush, SFOX, GOAT, and Soylent), and my bet is more and more future startups will be based there than anywhere else outside of SF and NYC.
Sometimes called Silicon Beach, which was originally the name for San Diego’s startup scene and later claimed by Venice & Santa Monica — though it really refers to all of LA at this point.
Why is it surprising? YC has historically required relocating to the Bay, so it's not really surprising that the vast majority of top 101 YC companies are in the Bay, or that of the 27 that aren't, there are many paths on the Earth's surface that include 100 million people and none of those relocated top YC companies; and that is even before considering the (also unsurprising) concentration of non-Bay top YC companies in NYC, which leaves even fewer for the rest of the planet.
There's only 12 in the US outside of the Bay and NYC, the first of which is where YC companies are at some point compelled to be, the latter of which clearly has a sui generis draw. (Presumably, those outside the US are driven by differences in language, culture, etc., that you point, correctly, to and thus shouldn't be expected to be some random place in the US.)
I don't think it's really all that striking that of those 12 companies, there aren't any in the region pointed to.
> Besides there aren't that many ways to divide the world by 100 Million people, there are 76.
There's a lot more than 76 ways; any particular division into 100 million population units will have 76 non-overlapping regions, but there is a very large number of ways to draw those regions (even if you restrain it from the simple combinatorial problem and require contiguity), and thus a very large number of potential regions.
There are (7.6B choose 100M) = (7600000000! / (100000000! * 7500000000!)) > well over a googol. Different ways to slice up the world do not have to be disjoint.
If you want to return to the original question of why 76 out of the top 100 YC startups are in the Bay Area and zero of them are in the South, east of LA - it's because the only populations that matter for a tech startup are founders, early adopters, angel investors, venture capitalists, executives who have scaled a company by 100,000x, corporate lawyers, digital marketers, engineers, DevOps/SRE, UX researchers, UI designers, product managers, and (for a B2B startup) enterprise sales reps. All of these populations are abundant in the Bay Area. Many of them are missing entirely in the South, or if they're present, they're rare enough that there isn't a liquid market for them. If you're a founder, you can go wherever you want, but you're only one of the limiting regents for a startup. Without the other, less glamorous ones, your startup is not going to take off.
If the chart had, say, 10 companies from India, showing the borders of India's states on the map would definitely make sense.
What else? Talent? Yes, but at a cost that is becoming unbearable for early-stage startups. Customers? Maybe if you are B2B technology, but most startups are not.
edit: I am getting downvoted to hell for some reason when I'm simply trying to start a discussion based on a fact... hmmm... I don't get HN...
"The only other countries with top companies were Canada (2), the UK (2), Colombia, India and the Netherlands."
"94 of the top 101 companies are based in the US."
...they have to for at least 3 months to be a YC company, and after that the question is what is the compelling reason to move?
Why not both?
There's a probably at least a bias to English fluency, if not a blanket rejection of non-English applications.
There's been a long-standing bias towards teams, which mandates a level of charisma and social skills that many talented engineers struggle with. For a long time, YC completely excluded solo founders.
And I believe being on-site is another requirement, which is classist. People from other states and countries who don't already have affluence probably don't even bother.
YC requires a 3 month relocation to Silicon Valley.
That itself creates a pretty strong bias.
There are probably language, cultural, and other biases at play, too.