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Don’t believe the Silicon Valley hype (venturebeat.com)
47 points by mdhayes on Oct 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments



Am I the only person who reads articles like these and gets the suspicion that this is less about how great Austin is (and it is a great city with some top-notch hackers living there), but basically a thinly veiled advertising opportunity for a software company that is trying to link its success to a larger (and largely disconnected) issue?

I'm not even sure who the audience of this is. Investors? I doubt any savvy VB-reading investors are unaware that there are great technology companies in Austin, New York, Portland, Chicago, and many other cities. In fact, the author appears a little out of the loop by talking about "The Valley" when businesses have been heading north to the Peninsula for years now.


It isn't all that thinly veiled is it? Its a recruiting pitch, the message is: 'cost of living is lower', 'opportunities are plentiful', 'traffic is better', and 'there is hip culture here too'. It is targeted at folks who are working in the Bay area and hate the commute and high cost of living but feel trapped because it is the 'place to be.' The goal being to get those people to consider working outside the Bay Area.

The bottom line is that there are lots of places to work, they aren't all like the Bay Area but they don't have to be.


Austin dweller here -- I assure you the traffic is NOT better here. Ranked 8th worst in the nation.

> If you are not aligned with one of the fashionable templates, your mojo in the Valley can quickly whither.

I observed this at SXSW last year. It was Elevator Pitch Bingo, with every presentation being some combination of Social, Mobile, Coupon, Local, and "your friends". Very few of the pitches strayed outside that subset.


Austin resident from Atlanta who has lived in San Francisco.

Yes it it is.

In Austin if there is a jam you can go a few blocks over and avoid it.

In SF or Atlanta alot of times you're fucked because this is the only road that goes where you want :/


On the other hand, in SF you can commute by bike. I'm told that's not viable in Austin.


If you live and work downtown or near UT's campus it is.

If not then you are quite right its not.


i live 2 mi west of ut/downtown, and i disagree. i gave up cycling when i moved here from the Valley. :/


"Austin dweller here -- I assure you the traffic is NOT better here. Ranked 8th worst in the nation."

FWIW, San Francisco is ranked #3.


For bridgers and tunnelers, not natives.

I've never gotten past the first red light out of Bergstrom without a 4 minute wait at 1am. I could go all the way from SFO to Ocean Beach without hitting a light 50% of the time.

SF applies computers and algorithms. Silicon Hills hasn't discovered them yet.


Honestly every time I see one of these it seems like another shot at a straw man thats been worked over like a cheap piñata.

For a lot of folks, applications and startups the valley has advantages, but likely for a far larger amount it really doesn't matter as much. But really anyone who's making a blanket statement for or against the valley is just talking out of their ass.


It's not thinly veiled, it's completely unveiled. These guest posts are just another type of marketing channel for companies.


> I feel it’s actually a competitive advantage > to build startups outside of Silicon Valley

In some ways this is true. We're in Scottsdale, AZ and have lured two senior people from SV. Granted, they admitted to some irritation with the SV culture, it wasn't really hard. But the incredibly lower cost of having a business here means were capable of offering fair market salaries, not typical low salaries + equity of most SV startups.

While the talent pool is smaller, the competition for that talent is almost nonexistent... so hiring was easier to some degree.

And if you play golf... well...


The author still thinks that you need to pack it up and go somewhere to succeed. That message sidesteps the real debate: whether you can "stay home" with your startup. Most people that are willing to move end up in Silicon Valley.


> * Most people that are willing to move end up in Silicon Valley*

What basis do you have for that claim?


guess-post=puff-piece-for-his-company issue aside, the article is kinda just stating the obvious... which is that you should geographically place your startup where it makes most based on the type of company you are building.

Many folks are already living in SF/Bay Area and start their company without thinking that maybe it would be better to do it elsewhere.

I live in SF yet my own startup, WP Engine, is based in Austin because we're very operations and server orientated. I wouldn't start that kind of company in the Bay Area as there's just no advantage. We now have some Marketing and Strategy presence here, but operations remains firmly in Austin.

Equally, I personally wouldn't put a heavily social-orientated company in Austin as there are many important partners you need to get chummy with to succeed who are based in SF/Bay Area.

It's just about weighing up what labor and partners you need, and putting your company where it needs to be. Not everyone can do that (family ties, visas, etc) but if you're already in the Bay Area it does make sense to consider whether moving out would benefit your startup.


"as there's just no advantage".

So, orders of magnitude more top notch engineers is not an advantage?

An order of magnitude more VC firms is not an advantage?

The existence of YC is not an advantage?

Order of magnitude more tech oriented events and meetups is not an advantage?

Maybe you meant "for me, personally, for my very specific business, there's no advantage" but maybe you shouldn't make sweeping statements based on what seems like a strongly held opinion and not a reasoned position.

To be clear: I'm not saying that Bay Area is the only place to start a successful startup. Clearly, it isn't.

But just as clearly Bay Area is an epicenter of startups that generates disproportionately large number of successes, both gigantic (which Austin tech company is on the list of 500 biggest US companies, next to Google, Apple, Oracle, Yahoo?) and small.

So either we have some unexplained phenomena that distorts the probability of success here or there are very real advantages to being here.


Well, you chopped off half of what I said and miss-quoted me in the process. I said there was no real advantage to starting an operations/infrastructure-focused company in SF Bay Area. I pointed out that for social, in particular, SF/SV is totally high value.

But, back to operations-orientated (eg infrastructure, etc) startups:

So, orders of magnitude more top notch engineers is not an advantage?

Nope, because such companies have a greater reliance on sysadmins, devops and tech support folks. And there is more talent on that front in Austin (for reasons explained in the OP) than in SF/SV. Also there's no point having an order of magnitude of engineers in SF/SV if you can't afford to hire them. I'm not going to reveal our wage levels but like-for-like they're probably 50-66% that of Bay Area and still highly skilled.

An order of magnitude more VC firms is not an advantage?

Nope, cos Sand Hill Road will still invest in Austin based companies.

The existence of YC is not an advantage?

Nope, YC is nothing to me. I'll never participate as I'm a 31 year old with going on 14 years experience of the industry and been involved in several exits. I'm not a candidate YC entrepreneur.

Order of magnitude more tech oriented events and meetups is not an advantage?

Well, I live in SF so I go all the awesome events and still benefit from being in Austin. What they don't tell you is once your company takes off and you have $MM revenue and a huge team of employees you end up going to less events and start focusing internally.

Maybe you meant "for me, personally, for my very specific business, there's no advantage" but maybe you shouldn't make sweeping statements based on what seems like a strongly held opinion and not a reasoned position.

No, I'm saying for most non-social, non-software-pure-plays, it's a big advantage to get out of Bay Area. I'm sure Austinites would argue further than that. It's not just for me.

which Austin tech company is on the list of 500 biggest US companies, next to Google, Apple, Oracle, Yahoo?

Not sure about Yahoo! (and couldn't care less about Yahoo either) but all of them and Facebook have significant presences in Austin. To answer you question, though, Dell is. I'm not saying that's particularly sexy but you asked the question. I'm not also not sure what your point is here or how it related to startups?




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