The Religion of Silicon Valley

There has been a lull in the chanting that “Silicon Valley is the center of the tech universe.” I’m in Boulder for the next three weeks and I woke up pondering something Ben Casnocha said to me the last time we were together.

Silicon Valley is a religion, just like Crossfit is a religion.

This has stuck with me for a long time and I’ve read many posts about Silicon Valley through this lens. For a quick frame of reference test, try these three:

I’ve been trying to decide the best phrase to describe the phenomenon around Silicon Valley. All of the easy phrases – culture, dynamics, ecosystem – either feel wrong or are too limiting. Religion seems to be the one that works.

Since religion is a loaded word for so many people (including me), I went searching for a comfortable and expansive definition of religion to use that transcends human history and belief systems. I liked the Wikipedia definition of religion.

A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that aim to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people may derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle.

Let’s change this to “The Religion of Silicon Valley.”

The Religion of Silicon Valley is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to the order of existence. It has narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that aim to explain the meaning of Silicon Valley and/or to explain the origin of Silicon Valley. From their beliefs about the human nature, people may derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle.

That seems like it works. As an observer, but not participant, in Crossfit, this definition also seems to work for Crossfit. It also seems to work for Fight Club, which I watched recently at an offsite with Seth, Jason, and Ryan and we all agreed that it definitely does not pass the test of time.

Religions are incredibly powerful, but they have great weaknesses and limitations. Religious leaders are dogmatic. They are slow to change their fundamental beliefs and in some cases refuse to. Over time, some religious leaders alienate their subjects or try to control society through top down control. And, when religions clash, conflict and human extermination can be quite dramatic. Religious leaders are often overthrown after a period of time.

Metaphorically, this is a risk of the Religion of Silicon Valley. I’ve been saying for over 20 years that there are many different ways to create amazing companies. Recently, in my book Startup Communities, I asserted that you can create a startup community in any city in the world.

The Silicon Valley way is one of them, but not the only one. Today, it’s a powerful epicenter, just like Detroit was a powerful epicenter in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s even earning a place in America’s Arsenal of Democracy during World War II with its sister cities Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. But the notion that the Silicon Valley way is the only way is a dangerous one.

I’m intrigued by people who say “the only place you should start a tech company is Silicon Valley.” I keep thinking that I’ll never hear that again, but I just heard it two weeks ago from an entrepreneur I met. He’s very accomplished and starting a new company not in Silicon Valley. He called me looking for an understanding about how to combat the argument he was getting from VCs he was talking to who said “the only place you should start your company is in Silicon Valley.” I was in New York on Friday for Techstars Demo Day and I saw evidence over and over again that the statement was false.

Religion often devolves into “my way is the only way.” I strongly believe in freedom of everything, including religion. I also believe you can learn an enormous amount from religions, even if you don’t subscribe to them. I’m sure this shapes my view that there are some amazing things about the Religion of Silicon Valley but some to be very careful of, or avoid entirely.

I like this metaphor a lot. I’m curious what reaction it invokes in you.

  • It resonates to me strongly in this way – religion tends to be about tradition and a belief system that goes along the line of “it’s always been this way”. There’s an inflexibility to religion (as you point out) that seems antithetical to entrepreneurship.

    For the same reason that entrepreneurs think they can create something that very few people can see, any geography can become a major tech hub (that today very few people could see). It will all be obvious 30 years from now, but today it seems impossible. Just like most startup ideas.

    • Time is a big part of my thesis around startup communities. Principle #2 of the Boulder Thesis is that you have to have a very long term view about building your startup community – at least 20 years. It takes a long time to build a great company – why should it be easy to quickly build a startup community?

  • Matt Kruza

    Love the analogy. One thought I have is if you are into the quick / accelerated exit (acqui-hire in <18 months) or want to be unicorn (on paper at least) within 36 months you want to be in silicon valley because there is so much money, influence (with early adopters, reporters, investors), and dogmatic focus on this. if you are more interested in building a sustainable business you don’t want silicon valley. Some of the sustainable businesses are not venture fundable, but many are, and often venture capital is not needed now for a great company.

    • There is no question that it’s easier to do an acquihire as an exit in a dense environment. But I’d argue that the magnitude of companies in Silicon Valley don’t necessary make this the only place to do this. For example, when I think of companies in our portfolio that been acquired early, they include companies in Seattle, Boulder, and New York. And the acquires for the three companies I’m thinking about were in Canada, the bay area, and Boston. Then, one of the bay area companies in our portfolio that wasn’t going anywhere was acquired by a Portland company.

      • Matt Kruza

        Interesting feedback. My intuition was a little off ( Will gladly defer to your experience as mine was only anecdotal / theoretical and you have been on the midas list.. I have not qualified yet!). Where most of them aqui-hired by companies in the same startup community or not really?

  • BELIEVE IN SILICON VALLEY MUCH EASIER THAN ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT IT.

  • Each time I encounter any form of organized religion, I’m put off by the dogma + near-ritualized rejection of logic. The ‘religion of’ anything connotes sloppy thinking + crowdthink to me.

  • It is a great analogy. I wrote a post a ways back called “The Religion of Entrepreneurship” – http://bit.ly/1E1jQjo – and what I find interesting about your post is that you focus your comments on Silicon Valley as if there were a different belief system than in other entrepreneurial centers. I think that is true in part, but that there are many, many commonalities. Putting it another way, Silicon Valley may be Jerusalem, but you can build a thriving Jewish community elsewhere – and there is a natural process where each denomination will evolve to fit the geography and the time.

    • Bingo.

    • mihirbhanot

      This is exactly right! Well put.

  • Replace “Silicon Valley” by anything like “Venture Capital”, “Lean Process”, “Feld Thoughts” and the definition would still make sense. We, as individuals, as groups, are a collection of our thoughts, beliefs and frameworks. Most of us are like “Religious Leaders” mentioned in your blog (even if we are “followers”), it may not be obvious to a viewer, for sometimes it could be in a personal sphere which is not visible to us.

    Silicon Valley as a religion is not Silicon Valley’s fault, it is the individuals which comprise them who propagate it. the cycle of creation-destruction will always happen when one group of individuals (religion) offer something which the other group does not find compelling enough to gravitate to

    • I sure hope Feld Thoughts isn’t a religion and I have no interest in being a religious leader.

      I hadn’t ever noticed that the phrase “follower” worked in a tech and religious context so interchangeably. Fascinating.

  • I think there are a couple of things going on. 1. Fear. The unicorn hasn’t been built very often in places outside of SV, so people think it can only be done inside SV. Might have been the case 10 years ago, but not the case today. 2. VC’s have children. They don’t want to be hopping on planes to fly all over the country to work with firms and go to board meetings. 3. Failure. In 2007 where I live in Chicago, it was tougher to get a job with another startup or company if you failed. Not the case here today. 4. Funding. Harder to raise a seed stage round in other places but Angel List and the rise of seed stage investors changing that.

    I am reminded of a story from the wine industry. Williams Selyem made tremendous Pinot Noirs, rivaling the Burgundy made for centuries in France. But neither Williams nor Selyem had ever been to Burgundy in their lives. Yet, each year they would crank out a highly rated wine using their methods.

    You are correct. It’s hard to change a meme. Silicon Valley is a great place. But so are others.

    • mihirbhanot

      Really liked your point about Failure being “OK”. That seems to be a central and big difference (today) between the religion/cult (?) of SV and a lot of the up and coming “places of entrepreneurial worship.” I think it is one of the ones that is the most overlooked because I suspect it takes longer to get a community to buy into this and change its mores than many other things that can be done by mandate or through sheer effort.

  • Venture capital certainly seems at times like a faith-based practice, especially at the early-stages. If you lack a healthy degree of faith in the team, product, market, etc., you would never get a deal done.

    • Love it – perfect add on to this thought!

  • Avishay Ovadia

    If you think about the Israeli startups WAZE, MOOVIT, MEERKAT Etc., their R&D in Israel, but the marketing office is in the Valley.

    So my point is that you can develop a significant product in all over the world, but for viral marketing – Silicon Valley is the right place.

    • Not entirely true. Some of the non-US startups also use NYC for their local presence. It depends what your market is.

      • Avishay Ovadia

        I agree. NYC is can be the best place for the right market, especially for Israeli entrepreneurs also because of the time difference with the team in Israel.

    • Are you sure you mean viral marketing? If so, why does geographic presence matter at all for this?

      • Avishay Ovadia

        Take a look at Meerkat for example – I’ve met Ben Rubin (Co-founder) few days ago and we discussed about the the crazy hype of Meerkat. A big part of it was thank to the connection with the community in the valley, the Hunters, bloggers, geeks Etc.
        In my opinion there is no replacement with meeting the community face to face.

        • One data point does not an argument make. I also like the choice phrase “crazy hype” – let’s check back in ten years from now and see if Meerkat matters. This is NOT a ding at all on Meerkat, but rather the assertion that initial hype matters. It generates visibility, but it doesn’t generate relevance. And viral marketing, at least in my world, is not geographically dependent.

          • Avishay Ovadia

            I agree that viral marketing is not geographically dependent, but when Moovit or WAZE or Getaxi need to expand quickly around the world, raise money from the best VCs in the tech world, they run to Palo Alto to do so. It’s not a “one data point” or random company – if you want to go viral fast, like all successful Israeli companies because our market is tiny, we open the next office in the valley or NYC. The developers stay back home, only the PR guys makes the relocation.

          • “The Valley or NYC.” Yup. And that’s more than just “The Valley.” I’d suggest that if only the “PR guys” are making the relocation, then you are missing a lot of juice in this investment of resources.

          • Avishay Ovadia

            Missing a lot, of course. What did you suggest here? Stay in Israel, relocation for the whole company?

          • If you are going to put people in the bay area, put more than just the PR people. Put part of the exec team there – at least bus dev and senior sales leadership. Build a small engineering team there that is connected back to the headquarters business in Israel.

  • Silicon Valley means so many things all in one. It is truly multi-dimensional both metaphorically and in reality, which is why the religion analogy is a good one.

    I like epicenter too.

    No ecosystem is perfect, and none will ever be. Even SV has its flaws as you pointed out, but the SV Religion is still the best one we got. What other Tech Religion is there?

    • The biggest problem is the belief that it is the only religion.

      • Well, SV has some core that’s good, and that should be exported.

        But it’s been said before that if you’re outside of SV and want to emulate SV’s success, better to look at what Boulder and NYC have done instead of SV itself, because you want to learn about how to concoct your own local version of that religion.

        • I think looking at SV is also useful. As I say in the book Startup Communities, look everywhere, take the best pieces you can find, and inject your own special magic from your geography into things.

          • totally agreed; most of the lessons are there for the taking.
            applying them is the hardest part.

  • Religion invokes the feeling of “vintage” or “historical significance” in me, I somehow feel it’s too young as a religion, much as Mormonism is…

    • I think the Mormon’s would disagree with you on this…

      • As Carl Sagan might say: they… “live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people”

        So I hope my comment will be taken with equally great insignificance

        • We are all deeply insignificant. And once we realize that, a lot of bullshit just falls away. Thanks for the reminder.

  • carribeiro

    I’m working very hard right now to convince people of your thesis about local startup communities. I’m part of the community on Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and despite having more than 50 startups, including some already well established and in the growing phase, scaling up fast, we suffer both from the “Silicon Valley religion” and the “São Paulo religion” which is specially strong in Brazil.

    I’m tired of hearing that I should move either to São Paulo or to Silicon Valley. That’s not what I want to do, and should not be necessary.

    I’m currently at Silicon Valley, but just for a short 2 week stay, to learn some tech and try to absorb a bit of the ideas and local culture. I feel that many of the things I’m seeing here could be successfully translated back in Brazil. That’s a big project, one of the most serious that I ever have taken in my file, and I honestly hope that working with the Belo Horizonte community, we can make it work for us.

    • Traveling to other places and learning what makes their startup community strong is a powerful way to improve how things work where you are. Take back the stuff that makes sense to your startup community – recognize that the goal is to do this (which it looks like you are) rather than blindly emulate…

  • RBC

    Amen

  • I think religion is a fairly apt description. The thorny aspect of the Silicon Valley religion to me is that it constantly suggests that all comers are welcome, while at the same time self-selecting for a narrow set of approaches and startups.

    Bubble or no bubble it’s hard to deny there’s a lot of crap being built and money and time wasted on problems that don’t really exist outside of the region (religion?). It’s one of the things that’s puzzled me about the Startup Communities book….I believe in being inclusive, encouraging people to work on what they want to work on, and simply passing on what doesn’t align with my beliefs. But at the same time someone has to tell the truth, and when that doesn’t happen it gets harder for everyone to identify the koolaid vs. the water. Is that a byproduct of any entrepreneurial ecosystem? I really hope not..

    • There is no conflict between “telling the truth” vs. “being inclusive.” Remember that YOUR truth might not be MY truth.

      • Good point, I guess that’s part of the problem in SV too. There’s always a way, but there’s rarely The Way.

  • Sam

    This resonates, and I am a prodigal son of sorts.

    After an early career experience with a few different Internet-related startups and living and working (in fits and starts) through the bubble, I left the industry in the mid 2000s in favor of a larger corporate gig in a functional role that suits me. Things are good, I am well paid, and I have not been practicing the religion for a while.

    One tweak to the analogy in my mind… Silicon Valley is more a denomination (southern Baptist perhaps?), and the entire tech community is the religion. For those of us no longer in the tech community, tech is most definitely a religion unto itself — whether NY, Boulder, Silicon Valley.

    I have been away from the religion for a while, but lately I have been wondering if I should return. I find great appeal in what the religion is doing these days; I have a startup idea in a subject which I am passionate about; and I still have enough runway in my career to give it a go. I have been reading up on Ries, Osterwalder, your blog, Fred’s, and This Week in Startups. (I doubt you view yourself as prophets, but it fits the analogy.) It has been very helpful for me as I try to figure out whether this transition makes sense for me.

    Your previous post hit home as well. I suspect I would be noticeably out of place in the religion these days. And I am asking myself whether my interest level right now (as an outsider) is itself a sign that we may be nearing a peak. Part of me says “screw it – a great idea is a great idea,” and part of me says “this is a midlife crisis, and you’d be a fool to leave your corporate job.”

    My thanks for your blog. A big help to me as I evaluate the various paths in my career.

    • Glad the blog is helpful. I like the denomination distinction. The metaphor that SV:Christianity doesn’t hold as well as SV:Southern_Baptist. And Entrepreneurship:Christianity.

  • Interesting metaphor, Brad. I think that it has many of the characteristics of a New Religious Movement/Cult on its way to becoming a denomination.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_religious_movement

    Interestingly, that same label has been applied to Crossfit.

    • Reposting image

      • Super helpful image – I hadn’t seen this before but I like the visualization of the concepts on the spectrum.

  • Brad – good post, don’t get caught up in the dogma either way (I hear both “you have to be in SV” and “don’t ever go to SV”). The reality is that any company of scale ends up in multiple geos. I am based in SV and posting this from Estonia.

    Also, stuff like this from a previous poster is just ignorance/hating on SV and is pretty silly

    “if you are more interested in building a sustainable business you don’t want silicon valley”

    • Totally agree that “anti-dogma” is just as ineffective long-term as the dogma.

  • Doug Gibbs

    Not all Catholics live in Rome, not all Jews in Jerusalem. You don’t have to live in a place to believe. A trip to Mecca is nice, but only a once in a lifetime thing.
    Humans are weird, that we tie beliefs to a location.

    • It’s particularly ironic that we tie beliefs to a location around this issue in the world of 2015. I expect in 2050 the machines really will not care about physical location at all and as a species we need to start getting used to this.

  • kevinmarks

    L Sprague de Camp defined “religion” as a faith you were born into, and a “cult” one you joined as an adult.
    By this definition, Silicon Valley is a religion, having been a cult previously, and most other startup centres are in the cult phase.

    • But maybe entrepreneurship is ONE religion with emerging denominations. I played around with the overall taxonomy a little in my head in the shower before I wrote the post but tossed it all out as none of them really held together.

  • Dasher

    Every religion has a god or gods. Who is the god of Silicon Valley?

    • Billionaire entrepreneurs ranging from Andy Grove to Mark Zuckerberg.

      • Dasher

        Some VCs think they are the gods. But I agree with you, entrepreneurs are the gods. Steve jobs and Elon Musk come to my mind.

        • I love that this particular religion is polytheistic. The gods in this metaphor are DEFINITELY the entrepreneurs. Any VC who thinks he/she is one of the gods is a false idol. A few VCs might be prophets, but definitely not gods.

          • Dasher

            Aha! That is a great analogy. I was wondering about VCs role in the religion. Prophet makes perfect sense.

          • Dasher

            While we are on metaphors, Product Market Fit is the Nirvana 🙂

  • CamiloALopez

    It seems that being present in Silicon Valley can be beneficial if you want the blessings of the elders/prophets. A lot of the riches are centered around SV so if you want to increase your chances of getting funded for your ministry/mission then you want to be there. It seems you will also get greater valuations if you are there.

    I go back to your previous blog, as long as you create value and you are enjoying what you do, it does not matter if you are in San Francisco or Detroit 2015.

    • An important part of my Boulder Thesis from Startup Communities is that to have a successful long-term startup community, you have to be inclusive of everyone who wants to engage at any level.

      The idea that you need to blessing of elders/prophets is antithetical to this. If that’s the developing view of SV, that’s a negative long-term indicator of health.

      So – very interesting observation – I wonder how broad this sentiment is around (a) younger entrepreneurs and (b) people outside SV.

  • josh

    Love the analogy bc the dogma runs thick in parts. Re- Detroit… motorcity lost it’s position bc it stopped building cars people had to have. Strip away all the hippy marketing and freemium services and SV is held together by VCs investing based on traction and exits. So I think becoming the next wall street may be a bigger concern than becoming detroit. That is why purpose driven companies tend to be a bit more sticky in people’s minds and hearts, loved the ‘losing my religion’ post to this end… thanks for the analogy and the links…

    • There are lots of long-term paths as you point out. My instinct is that SV will be amazing for a long time, but it will be more analogous to NY – where NY is one of the most amazing places in the world, especially around the financial industry, but it’s not the ONLY place.

      I don’t fear SV going the way of Detroit in the near term. But it’s a good warning for everyone to keep in the back of their heads. “We could never be like Detroit” is a really silly thing to say.

      • josh

        as always, appreciate your personal and personable responses. keep it up ftw 🙂

  • Why SF Bay Area ecosystem is difficult to replicate: 1) Willingness to defer rewards 2) Local acquisitions 3) Desire to reinvest proceeds— Semil (@semil) January 24, 2015

    • Open the thread to see the tweet. Culture of M&A (historically) makes it difficult to replicate, IMO.

      • Culture of M&A? The early days of the auto industry were all about M&A. Not to mention steel. US Steel was basically the product of nonstop M&A begun by Andrew Carnegie.

        • By culture, I mean the pace and size of it. Whatsapp for $19B in FB’s backyard size.

          • I don’t see the distinction. Many other industries go through rapid M&A cycles in their infancy. I’ll grant software driven industries are different because they spawn new industries faster and cheaper, which allowed WhatsApp to dominate and grow quickly.

          • Can’t compare to the size of co’s here who have and will acquire with their cash coffers. That drives VC biz model like no other.

          • Recency bias. According to SV religion, it invented venture capital. But if you read the history of private finance, venture capital goes back to the birth of railroads, steel, automobiles and aerospace. Each of those industries had geographical epicenters (and created gigantic personal fortunes – at JP Morgan’s wealth dwarfed Bill Gates’ on a relative basis).

          • Are we debating history or the future? 😉

          • My point is that religion leads to dogma. Once upon a time I’m positive that people in Detroit said things like “it’s impossible to build an industry like this outside of Detroit.”

            If you drink too much Koolaid and buy into the hype think your locale is “a special place t,” it can blind you to things happening in other places.

          • No dogma here, just looking at the data.

          • @semilshah:disqus I encourage you to study history to better understand the future per my post http://feld.com/archives/2015/04/history-doesnt-repeat-rhyme.html.

            This is another example of it of where history is a useful informer of context. There were other centers of the universe for specific areas over the course of human history and many people focused on short term data to justify their position as the only place to be.

            You can pull out lots of examples simply from industrialized society (post Civil War), there have been a number of different geographies that were heavy concentrators of M&A activity in a particular industry.

            There were massive outliers in those geographies as well – like FB / WhatsApp. I expect that when you look at the median activity and normalize it for time, the velocity and magnitude of M&A activity will be in the same order of magnitude.

            History then teaches us a different lesson about many of these industries.

            It’s easy to say “technology transcends all of this” but at the time of the massive rise and impact of “steel” the same thing was said. Or oil. Or many other things.

            Recall Mr. McGuire in The Graduate saying to Benjamin “I have one word for you my son – Plastics”

            Many of these things run a very long, multi-year (20, 30, 40, 50+) arc. I have no real sense whether the time frame is tightening or expanding, but it’s interesting to ponder.

          • I’m actually a long-time history buff, student, and researcher! I understand the overall argument and agree in the long arc of history, centers of gravity change. The point I’m trying to make is more finite. One, the biz model of VC relies upon IPOs (which are happening less) and M&A (also happening less, incidentally). I know you know this, just writing out the argument. Because of what’s happening to IPOs and how that affects liquidity for funds, M&A is critical, and if you look at CrunchBase data for tech/startups, there were 738 tech exits in 2014, 637 of which were M&A, and over 50% of those happened in California. Of course, it happens elsewhere, but for the biz model of VC to work, it’s concentrated here. Again, not saying it’s perfect, but when the area has the lions share of VC + all the cash in the bank at Apple, Facebook, Google, and soon to be Uber, etc., these companies will want to buy new teams and talent, and integrate them here. What’s interesting now is new entrants from overseas like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and soon Xiaomi will be acquisitive and may care less about buying stuff in the Valley.

    • i don’t agree with that entirely. other startup ecosystems have 1, 3. 2 is difficult to replicate because of acquihire. I do agree SF has higher tolerance for user growth only startups (without revenue, or path to rev)

      • Name another ecosystem that has even 10% of the M&A capability.

        • Depends on the business. If we are talking tech, most acquisitions in the Valley aren’t strategic, it’s acquihire. Plenty of M+A happens all over the country. Midmarket. Most of M+A today on large scale is tax induced, like Heinz buying Kraft.

        • just dug through some data. “Facebook’s (FB) $19 billion purchase of messaging service WhatsApp was the largest technology deal this year. The sector has accounted for $138 billion in volume year-to-date.”–so I was mistaken. There is no where else in the tech sector like that. But, other places have plenty of M+A. Lots of it here, but it’s in manufacturing, not tech.

        • M&A in a specific segment of the global economy or M&A across all of economic activity?

      • John Fazzolari

        Unfortunately I don’t believe there are many other ecosystems where there is a desire to reinvest proceeds. This is a huge problem for new entrepreneurs, especially on the east coast. People investing in people and willing to watch them fail for the benefit of the larger ecosystem only really happens in the valley.

        • In Chicago we have exited entrepreneurs reinvesting, and angels that exit reinvesting. Not everyone. But, the truth of the matter is most of the people are new to the game and we don’t have the exit history to say whether they are reinvesting or not. I can’t speak for the east or LA.

          • John Fazzolari

            Great to hear that but bottom line is that the Bay Area is the only place in the world where a founder can put together 5 -10 small checks from founders just a few years ahead in the game and have the chance to test something out. Everywhere else it’s more like bootstrap to some real revenue and than you might be able to raise that same type of pre-seed round. Most ecosystems don’t even have that many angel investors period. The money is there but the mentality is just different.

          • I think it’s important to think about Brad’s book on Startup Ecosystems. It takes twenty years. Things don’t happen overnight. The movie Something Ventured is excellent on the Valley. It took a while to get things heated up. For example, I started HPA in April of 2007 in Chicago. For a while, it was brutal. Excelerate Labs started up in 2009. Got a little better. Groupon and Grub Hub exited. Now there’s stuff happening here. HPA has over 100 members and there are at least four other functioning angel groups. We just need more seed funds, and funds in the middle.

          • John Fazzolari

            Ya I agree it takes some time. But you’re making my exact point- there are probably 4-10 “angel groups” in these other cities. What entrepreneurs need are individual angels ready to write 30 small checks a year and invest even if their friends aren’t in the deal. It’s great that angel groups exist to help new investors learn but it’s the individual angels who really make things happen at the pre-seed stage.

          • Angel Groups are not the answer. When I see a small number of angel groups in a city, I shout from the roof tops “disband your group and become individual angels.”

          • Except, angels do better in packs. Also, when you are learning the ropes, and angel group can be a good safety net. That being said, there are problems with angel groups too-and not every one is the same. Think of herding cats with attitude.

          • Dasher

            The problem I see with these packs is that they see entrepreneurs as commodities. Also there is also power imbalance against the entrepreneur. This is not a healthy dynamic.

          • John Fazzolari

            For sure! I see why they form but they usually aren’t very helpful to entrepreneurs. Especially with their “application fees”

          • Nice to point out Something Ventured. EVERYONE in the bay area in this generation of entrepreneurs should watch the movie to understand their history, where things came from, how they evolved, and how long it took.

          • Ask&Bid

            True, you can do bootstrapping, or something Rocket Internet can use to replicate a SV startup.

          • You are wrong on your assertion that “most ecosystems don’t even have that many angel investors period.” That’s changing rapidly in many places. Also, AngelList is democratizing this so you can do a financing like this from experienced angels for a company NOT in the bay area – but the investors can be anywhere. We’ve done around 50 investments like this in the past 18 months via AngelList and the locations are all over the US.

          • John Fazzolari

            Agree with you that angel investors are everywhere but most of the “angels” on angellist have only made 1 or 2 investments and remain on the sidelines. One thing I learned quickly last year was just because somebody acts like they are an investor doesn’t mean they actually write checks. For example in NYC there are maybe 100 active angel investors who are mostly connected and know each other. There are at least 1000 in the valley and I’d say that is a remarkable difference. If I’m wrong on this than maybe I haven’t done enough research but am confident that if you look at the number of 10 – 50k checks written in the valley vs everywhere else you’ll see a HUGE difference.

          • Except it’s starting. In the last generation of successful Chicago entrepreneurs (pre-Internet bubble) it didn’t seem very prevalent to me. This time, it’s very visible and momentum around it is growing nicely.

        • 3. Desire to reinvest proceeds is a big part of the magic. We see it regularly in Boulder. As entrepreneurs become successful and wealthy from an exit, becoming an active angel investor develops a great long-term flywheel.

          This is NOT unique to SV. I see this also in NY, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, and many other places. The magnitude differs, but the philosophy is the same.

          • John Fazzolari

            In my experience I don’t see this as much of this outside the valley. Maybe most of these other ecosystems are too young for this to be happening. Would love to see early Etsy employees and folks like Chad become active angels in NYC over next 5-10 years. Same goes for Tumblr. It’s all about giving back to the ecosystem!

  • Guy Gamzu

    Highly recommended in this context:
    http://youtu.be/g6BK5Q_Dblo

  • AdvancedREI

    Equally weird are VCs that only invest in Silicon Valley. Why would you only want to invest your money in the most expensive place to solve a problem on the entire planet (besides Washington DC, of course)? Good VCs should want to grow economies nationwide, especially given Skype, Meerkat, etc.

    • I’ve always been perplexed by this. Not deeply perplexed, but there’s a deep dissonance in “the only place to build amazing things that impact our planet are in small geographic location.”

  • NikkiBaidwanPiplani

    Brad, glad you wrote this. Two other articles to add to this list are

    1. The Cathedral of Computation – The Atlantic – http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cathedral-of-computation/384300/

    2. How religion got in the way from Wait But Why – http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/10/how-religion-got-in-the-way.html

    The second one is a blog post dealing with religion vs spirituality but I think the arguments are true for a dogmatic approach to any area – when we embrace the outer trappings of a certain way of life while neglecting the spirit and thought behind it. While SV embraces disruption and questioning established wisdom in every sector, worth thinking whether that is happening enough inside it.

  • Ask&Bid

    The farther away from SV the less VC capital is. Further,VCs do seed and series A investments primarily in startups that are close, ca 50km from their office.

    Having early startups nearby makes a lot of sense for investors, to be able to take car of them. Since they do have a lot of them, investments spreaded world wide would have a significant effect on their business (reducing the number of startups a single VC / investor can take care of).

    That means, geographical vicinity has an effect on portfolio performance.

    That is like a planet forming process, and SV is the equivalent of Jupiter, if not the sun.

    Not all ideas are bootstrappable, that means they are not executed or executed very slow. This is narrowing down the scope of ideas. As a result you get very conservative startups with risk less ideas or copy cats.

    This again has an effect on the versatility of the eco system, it becomes very homogeneous in regard of technologies (PHP).

    As a result potential investors are unable to understand innovative technology or shy away from innovative business ideas.

    That means if you do have an innovative idea, using a state of the art technology, and even do apply new methods, the most European investors will just do nothing.

    So you are doing bootstrapping, try to make it work, get a bit traction, and then you are starting to look for an investor in SV, because you know that their funds are big and they take risk.

    As an effect SV gets weight by the day, and all other VC regions (also in the US), are growing slower. Even NYC is looking modest in comparison to SV.

    In short: SV had a big head start. The ideas flow where the money is. The money isn’t flowing to the ideas.

    EU perspective:
    IMO, the EU should throw much more money on innovation and more open. They do have some interesting programs, but they try to direct the flow of ideas to specific areas, like smart city. The problem here, that approach is producing bad startups.

    Would be better to rain money, ECB is printing €50bn per month for QE, €1bn per month would surely have an impact…

  • JamesHRH

    You are overthinking this IMHO. Its about the money.

    Silicon Valley’s biggest advantage is that it is a financial capital.

    If it is a religion, its a temple built on high risk investment sources that are focused on communication & information.

    In that sense, my community has a religion that is based on high risk (and high volume) investment sources that are focuses on energy.

    • I enjoy playing around with thoughts out loud! I learn a lot from what people say and how they react to them.

      • JamesHRH

        Great point – sparking a great conversation & then putting your ears on is a great way to learn & is enjoyable.

        Slipped into my natural binary problem solving mode there….seeing the world only as a set of problems to be solved flexes the neurons and feels good, but it is not much of a life philosophy!

  • I wonder whether Reid Hoffman agrees with Ben on this one.

    Calling it a religion seems stretched to me. “Cult” seems more correct, actually.

    It would be interesting to have a graduate or post-grad in religious studies weight in on this one.

    • There have been a few good comments talking about why it could be a cult instead of a religion, or a denomination a religion. I’d never thought hard about the distinctions and don’t feel like I have the right template for this since I’ve never really studied religion. My wife Amy has depth on this topic – I’ll likely have a conversation with her at some point about it to understand the framing better.

  • Guest

    I was talking to a VC recently who landed in the Midwest from Silicon Valley about a company growing quickly at the Series A stage but likely to be playing for a $50-$200M exit. He remarked how they might have trouble raising in the Valley despite solid metrics because they aren’t likely to be a home-run exit for the bigger funds. There are great companies out there that aren’t likely to ever be unicorns that can be foundational exits for startup communities outside of SV.

    • This ebb and flow is one that is worth watching. It’s easy to talk about the massive amounts of available capital in SV (as several in this comment thread have done) but the abundance is very segmented to seed/early stage and late stage. The stuff in the middle is a whole different ball game.

  • Rob Leathern

    There’s plenty of evidence, as you point out Brad, that it’s not true that “the only place you should start a tech company is Silicon Valley.” However the question seems to be “can you build a large, [consumer] tech company somewhere else?” The reason I moved my family to (and am starting a tech company in) Boulder is because I believe not only can you, but given how crowded the Valley landscape is, you absolutely should. BTW a great product manager I know was a religion major.

    • And welcome – I share your belief!

  • Ronin_Jim

    Preach on Brother Feld! I subscribe to the belief that SV has flipped from being a centre of innovation that thrives on VC, to a centre of VC that thrives on innovation. The reason people still flock to SV is because they know they have the best chance of raising later stage capital there – so ergo, it’s a place of innovations. Especially for consumer tech.

    But what SV severely lacks that other places like New York, London etc is ready access to large enterprise customers. Or more specifically, a ready supply of smart people who have worked for these large verticals and now want to change incumbent industries.

    All interesting thoughts!

    • This is a good insight / add to the discussion. The counter-argument will be “will SaaS businesses you can serve enterprise customers without having to be near them.” This is holler, as any SaaS company that has built a large direct sales force to sell up into the F1000 knows.

  • #becauseawesome. related: the religion of agile. shorter: fundamentalists always get left behind.

  • Sid Barthakur

    Interesting
    post… the way I read this post, it conveyed two underlying points to me –
    point one being that Silicon Valley is a religion (perceived by many to be a
    very strong one and one which is location-based), and the next that, point one
    may not (at least for perception part) be correct, and if it is, it may not be
    a good thing for us all (driven by the argument of if great startups can be
    created in any city of the world). It obviously drives home one of Brad’s key
    beliefs… that Silicon Valley is not the be-all-and-end-all ingredient for a
    Startup’s success.

    It
    surely can be looked at from many perspectives, and I’m pretty sure that each
    of us has examined it using a variety of lenses available to us. Here are a few
    perspectives I used:

    History:
    One way to look at is to find out other similar situations in history where due
    to some reason a hub started to form, which resulted in creation of something
    of greater value than anywhere else in the world, attracting people (skilled
    workers), and at the expense of other places. Think of Rome at its zenith (for
    all artisans), Paris in the early 20th century (for painters), and Detroit in
    mid 20th century (for engineers and technicians). Did these places produce
    considerably more than any other places in their specific line of work?
    Possibly yes. Did other places produce nothing of significant value? Absolutely
    not! Do people know more about the hubs than any other place for the specific
    line of work? Yes, that’s because of the perception… well unfortunately, that
    matters.

    Forces
    of Nature: This is another way I looked at the situation… what forces act on
    a person and his/her surrounding players due to the environment? Let’s do a
    thought experiment for this – Lets say I’m in NYC. My friends are either in a
    Bank or Wall Street or a Media Conglo or a Fashion line. I had a eureka moment of
    an amazing idea and I decided to go create a Startup. I talk to my friends and
    family and everyone thinks it’s a great idea, and they wish me best of luck. I
    ask if anyone wants to join me, and well you know… the lifestyle change is not going
    to work with anyone but me :). So, I go ahead and after some time find a few
    other crazy guys who actually want to work on a Startup. We work for some time
    and get the software working and start to get users signing up… But, what about
    revenue? Asks my VC. I say, its a great product and a great idea, but will take
    some time to get there. Well, my VC’s not sure anymore? His LP’s only prefer
    portfolios with earnings… great product and users alone is too risky… after
    all the market’s doing so good… they feel they might be safer/better-off with
    some ETF into China rather. Meanwhile, it’s been over a year since I started
    and now I’ve stopped attending any friend/family parties… because, there
    everyone’s like “How many millions did you make?”… Ohh!!… “Okay, so when
    are you selling?”… Well… “Anyway, btw do you know Rick has downed his bonus
    into a 911 this time??”… Oh yessss!

    Meanwhile,
    my half-brother is in SFO and got dragged into this startup that a lot of his
    friends co-created (after quitting their last work)… Work is hard, but
    everyone’s at work fighting the beast together… Couldn’t attract a big VC,
    but some small-ones are interested. Plus, a number of friends in other companies
    know of their great product… so potential prospect of an acquisition or acquihire.
    And the best of all, the parties are awesome because everyone talks about what
    they’re building, and how they failed at something and succeeded at others.

    There are many other ways to look at it, and you may come with
    different results… Anyway, what I’ve concluded is that, you can start a
    company anywhere in the world, but there’s no avoiding the hub effect. You’ll
    have to be prepared to counter it. Institutions like TechStars are perhaps best
    positioned to help to counter these forces.

  • It depends on the type of startup. If it requires significant amounts of engineering then the best engineers are attracted to Silicon Valley and that’s where you can recruit the best. If it comes to a pretty user interface on a simple web service of some kind then, yes, you can do it somewhere else. However, since money is essential in growing a startup and Silicon Valley has more than 80% of the world’s VC capital, you’ll have to move part of your startup team here at some point to get the expansion capital.

    • There is amazing engineering talent in lots of other parts of the world. And, in SV, it’s now 2x more expensive than the norm (and accelerating).

      I strongly disagree with your capital argument. For expansion capital, the money will travel anywhere. We have direct evidence from our portfolio – some of the later stage rounds for companies we are investors in that are located in NY, Boulder, Seattle, and other places have LATE STAGE lead investors who are based in SV.

  • David Parker

    Interesting post, and I with the metaphor overall.

    One thing I disagree with pretty strongly is Fight Club not passing the test of time. The movie is fantastic.

    • We may have watched it at the wrong time of day. It was light outside (late afternoon) and we were tired from a long day of meetings. We also weren’t stoned and only had one beer each during the movie since we had more to do.

  • Rosey

    Brad, I expected your choice of metaphor would be ‘operating system’ more than ‘religion’, as the term r’religion’ carries a lot of baggage and generally involves some supernatural truth claims. An ‘operating system’ both defines its environment and thrives within it — and the idea of an OS seems less cluttered with other analogies, like heaven, hell, and Eden.

    Can you, for example, take the SV’s operating system and drag and drop it into Boulder or Kansas City? You can — but the VC’s the operating system needs to plug into may not be fast or scalable enough — the peripherals the OS expects to interact with.

    The SV OS ought to work in a Bolder or Kansas City if we can ‘install it.’

    • I love the OS metaphor. I chose Religion in this case because I wanted to be provocative and I loved Ben’s throwaway line in the middle of a long, wide ranging conversation.

      I just got a note from a CEO adjusting his “board operating system” which is just such a great way to talk about it.

  • Note to self: re-watch Fight Club.

    • @disqus_SQy6tl0J0T:disqus challenged me on my opinion here. He’s probably right – we weren’t in the right frame of mind for it because we were tired and light on stimulants / hallucinogens. There were parts that were awesome – we just got worn out before the end.

  • KenC_FoCo

    “Silicon Valley is a religion, just like Crossfit is a religion.”
    Living in CA for most of my life, this statement is very accurate. Silicon Valley is indeed its own religion. From programming languages and websites to start-ups and Google, it’s a giant parody of itself. As for Fight Club, that movie can do no wrong. It’s one of my favs.

    http://www.americanairheatingco.com

    • I love that you, @disqus_SQy6tl0J0T:disqus, and now @Roebot:disqus are challenging me to rethink my Fight Club statement. I’m going to watch it again, but in an appropriate context / frame of mind.

  • I lived in India. I built companies in New York and India.
    When I started a tech enabled manufacturing business, I came to the Valley and I am sure I made the right decision.
    There is no place else where you can foster innovation, build a team on a promise of an innovative technology, convince 30+ investors to believe in the future you paint, and then take it BACK out to the world after building the kernel of a World Class Business.

  • As the API Evangelist and completely non religious, leveraging religion when discussing what goes on in tech works very well. 😉

    • Indeed! We often talk about “religious battles in tech” (PC vs. Mac anyone? DOS vs. Unix?).

  • John Eden

    Great piece on what Silicon Valley really is.

    I don’t agree that religion provides the best template to understand SV. To me, SV is a set of operating principles that are used to organize disparate groups of people with diverse objectives who nonetheless share a keen interest in economic growth and technological progress. In other words, SV is a protocol. As TCP/IP is the protocol for the internet, SV is a protocol for creating, scaling and optimizing technology businesses.

    The key difference between a protocol and a religion is this: Protocols are designed to serve extrinsic purposes (e.g., TCP/IP connects people who otherwise couldn’t communicate with each other). These extrinsic purposes place pressure on the development of those protocols, and, in some cases old protocols must give way to allow extrinsic ends to be more efficiently achieved.

    Religion doesn’t work this way. Religions surely have external ends – the reduction of existential anxiety is surely a core objective of many world religions. But religions are less dynamic, less plastic than protocols because to survive religious institutions must first attend to their own survival across time, space and culture.

    Of course, Feld is right to identify dogmatism as a shared feature of SV and many religions. And it’s surely not a good part of our tradition.

    • Per my “board as operating system” post, do you think “operating system” is a better phrase? The Silicon Valley Operating System?

  • Dave Troy

    Good thoughts here. As I have traveled the world visiting coworking spaces, accelerators, entrepreneurship conferences, and investor events, I have observed common dogma, iconography, and ritual. Put me in a coworking space in Azerbaijan or Tunis, and I literally won’t be able to tell where I am; they are churches of a common tribe.

    Curiously, I think a rigid orthodoxy indicates a vulnerability to disruption (or schism), and that we will see that emerge within the next 5-10 years. There is too much orthodoxy, too much reliance on perceived causality. Some charismatic leader will emerge who bucks the trends, and many will follow that branch. And the schism could shake the Valley to its core, as well.

    There are far too many following the orthodox “path to success,” pouring into the valley and “doing all the right things.” If innovation is for the outliers, the weirdos, and those who think different, then the current orthodoxy cannot help but become as brittle as Wall Street at peak hubris.

    • Oooh – I love the phrase ‘peak hubris.” That’s a great one to describe the very dangerous tipping point that often brings down things.

  • davidcowan

    Brad
    I disagree because of one important word: “sacred” Religions are obsolete and dangerous because the beliefs and leaders are considered sacred – they command their adherents and subjugate their skepticism with the authority of their deities. But SV is eager to repeatedly disrupt itself. I don’t think anything is sacred here, which is critical to the pace of invention and creativity.

    • Valid which is why “religion” is so provocative in this context. As a fellow atheist, I have a strong bias against organized religions, especially ones that are monotheistic.

      Do you think this holds with polytheistic religions? And does it ever concern you about the deification of entrepreneurs, VCs, or “the billionaires” that many people try to emulate? Or the language and traditions that quickly become entrenched and reinforced, until they are obsolete?

      What word could you use instead of Religion? Would it be “culture”? Something else?

      • davidcowan

        Culture works.
        But seriously, I see it as an intensely accelerated state of evolution – particles in a chaotic primordial soup reacting to form new molecular structures with unexpected emergent properties. Often those emergent structures become catalysts themselves to further accelerate the pace of mutation, competition and growth.

    • davidcowan

      Also, you make an interesting observation about polytheism vs monotheism I had never before considered. I wonder why monotheist religions are so much more aggressive in their dogma, exclusivity, and drive to expand.

      • It’s particularly confusing to me given Greek and Roman mythology.

  • Cigar Smoker

    Silicon Valley isn’t the only place to start a startup, but the ones that do start here deserve higher relative valuations than those that start elsewhere.

  • kevrmoore

    This is so good.

  • toddschul

    I would argue that Fight Club is the greatest cultural critique film of our generation. Almost a “Citizen Cane” for the late 20th century. (Yes, I realize that sounds over the top.)

    I would recommend watching it at least 2 more times. Why? Because the violence and craziness is so shocking the first few times you watch it, you think it’s about that. But, if you watch it enough you can eventually see past that and begin to glimpse that there are many layers of meaning beyond what you first thought it was about.

    You can even venture down the rabbit hole on the Internet of what Fight Club really means.

    Here are a couple of places to enter. (It’s worth the ride IMO):

    http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueFilm/comments/1kvsix/an_issue_with_people_misinterpreting_the_movie/

    Eventually, it will help you ask good questions about the world around us and your own beliefs about that world. How many of the decisions that we make are truly our own choice and how much is a result of conditioning? We all think we’re making our own choices, but is this really true? Are we participating in life, or are we spectating? What are the implications of this? (Sorry, not trying to spoil, just a few questions to prime the pump.)

    Then, you may want to read the book: http://www.amazon.com/Fight-Club-Novel-Chuck-Palahniuk/dp/0393327345

    (Hint: It’s not about being right or wrong in determining what the film/story is about, but about taking your own journey, asking your own questions, and reaching your own conclusions…)

    Enjoy the ride!

    • I’ve never read the book. I think it’s time to read the book…

      • Uriah Zebadiah

        Honestly the movie is slightly better than the book, but the differences between them kind of fit into each other to make a solid whole, and the writing is at once stylized and minimalist, so it’s a good read.

        As for it holding up 15 years later… Listen, you’re at the top of your field, which provides you respect and novelty and meaningful work. You are not disenfranchised– you make an impact, and in a positive way, or at least enough so that you can easily convince yourself and others of the fact. Fight Club is not really about people like you, it’s about the other 80-90% of the industrialized world. Most of us are still in the trenches, kissing asses and putting on happy faces to hopefully get and keep jobs as replaceable cogs in corporate machines of dubious value to the world, all in hopes of avoiding grinding poverty.

        Talking about the religion of Silicon Valley… you are still in it, even if you’re a thousand miles away. That religion is not about SF vs the world, it’s about tech triumphalism, it’s about ‘culture fit’, and it exists everywhere. The Bay is merely its Mecca.

        • I thought about Fight Club differently when I said “it didn’t hold up.” We loved the first half but then got worn out with 30 minutes to go. When I reflect on it, we probably distracted ourselves rather than immersed ourselves in the movie. I will try again.

    • toddschul

      “Citizen Kane”. I apologize for the error…

    • Wow – that’s a great video. I just watched it. Ok, I’ll try again with a different frame of reference. But after I read the book.

      • toddschul

        Yeah, I agree. Glad you liked it. Will be interested to hear what you think of the book.

  • Ben Wiener

    I think my most appropriate response to this great post would be: “AMEN!!!!” 🙂

  • In Jerusalem we’ve been playing with the idea to anoint all unicorn founders as prophets & convert old churches and synagogues to startup hubs

  • Jason Pinto

    Can’t deny the data on scale, activity level and success of Silicon Valley. From where I sit in London I get pretty tired of hearing “the only place you should start a tech company is Silicon Valley” which I still do hear quite often.

  • I absolutely love this article. I am delighted that a VC shared this acknowledgement publicly.

  • João Barros

    I recently heard that companies can start anywhere but 90% of the EXITS are in Silicon Valley. What are your thoughts on that?

    • I don’t think the 90% number is correct. $ or # number of companies? What’s your source?

      • João Barros

        I finally found the time to look it up. I heard Danielle Morill from Mattermark say something to that effect (without exact numbers though) at LaunchFest in SF this year: “all the good exits are in SV”, “you’re gonna be bought here”. See minute 2:10:38 of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPBXGM-dbaI

        • That was a totally qualitative statement. And it surprises me that she said it given all the data Mattermark has!

          • João Barros

            Yes, that is correct. I would love to know the exact figures, if Mattermark can produce them.

          • I except she was talking off the cuff and in the moment…

          • João Barros

            To be fair, I heard this from several other people since moving to the Valley last August. If we can get the real data, then we will all be smarter. The numbers might actually be sector specific. In any case, my 90% statement was only a supposition and I apologize for the imprecision.

          • I think it’s a non-factual cliche.

          • João Barros

            Well, I am definitely not religious about this. 🙂 Have a great Sunday!

    • While I’ll agree many exits are in SV, so are lots of startups and large companies. However plenty of exits happen in Seattle, Portland, NoVA, L.A., Chicago, Boston and even New Hampshire.

      I believe that 90% is slightly less than double the real percentage. That’s still a huge margin but nowhere near most.

  • Guest

    Great post, gives some hope for those of us trying to start outside of SV. Curious to hear how much of a competitive disadvantage you really think a non-SV, non-NYC company is really at, though.

    • I have a deeply held belief that you should choose where you want to live and then build your life around it (as I write this from my kitchen table in Longmont, Colorado.) I don’t focus on the competitive advantage of building a company in a particular geography as many great companies have been built all over the world.

  • Ryan Borker

    Brad,

    The difference between religion and Silicon Valley? A coherent, normative vision of the future.

    When speaking of religion, those not religious (I expect a large portion of SV folks) focus on the outward aspects: ritual, rules, etc. In that way, SV is a religion.

    The analysis misses the ‘why’ of SV. What are we aiming for? Unfortunately, coherent, compelling views of the future (aside from, eg, Marc Andreessen’s welcoming of the matrix) are lacking. What is the point of what we’re creating?
    Silicon Valley creates enough noise for people to screen out the ‘why.’ I think others in the tech community have followed suit. If you believe the ethos, it’s to ‘help users’ and ‘create unicorns.’ That’s not a worthy goal in my opinion.

    What are your thoughts on where society should be in ~30 years because of what you’re doing at TechStars? Is it just the relentless pursuit of progress and ‘disruption’? Market Cap created? Users touched?

    • Batmagangsta

      Difrence beetwen atheist fanatics and religious fanatics.None they just propagate difrent views.

  • Guest

    Is it the lifestyle of silicon valley itself or technology and code packaged up into ‘disruptive start-ups that will change and save the world’ which carry this impression? I think a mixture of both 🙂 Like science, there will always be the ‘why’ questions remaining after and during the course of startup life. The fact that silicon valley is the epicentre and birth place of dot com business makes it a key trigger for this type of culture

  • It is the number one tech ecosystem in the world, but not the only place where you can start a tech company.

  • Actually, when I try analyze what SV has that others don’t have, the best answer I found is: “better history” (and better and telling their story).

    So this mythology quote is really powerful. “What the Dormouse Said” by John Markoff being one of many, many examples.

    “It has narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that aim to explain the meaning of Silicon Valley and/or to explain the origin of Silicon Valley.”

  • As someone who lives in DC (emerging startup scene) and is about to move to Boulder, CO (more advanced tech scene) I agree that new SV’s are popping up around the country. That being said, I’ve witnessed how difficult it is to source talent and funding when a entrepreneur is not based in SV.

    When creating a startup, there’s a lot working against you. Many entrepreneurs I speak to, simply go to SV because they believe it’ll be easier to source talent, raise money, connect with liked mind individuals, . Whether this is correct or not is hard to say. But they believe it’ll be a easier… and beliefs hold a lot of weight.

  • fanny2

    Realmente una gran serie , no le pide nada a nadie Silicon Valley 2 , simplemente es la mejor serie que puede existir

  • stuart snyder

    Religion is a good word for the “Group Thinking” that often takes place in Silicon Valley. I also think there is a self fulfilling prophecy element to Silicon Valley which means there is so much money for funding startups in Silicon Valley not accessible to startups in other parts of the world, it makes it more likely that startups based in Silicon Valley will be successful.

    I grew up in Silicon Valley, but left in 1993 and cofounded a successful global software company based in Adelaide, Australia. My experience in Silicon Valley taught me great people with good ideas are the key to success. But let me tell you it is a lot harder in Australia where funding is hard to come by and there is a smaller risk averse customer base. Having said that it is easier to get quality talent outside Silicon Valley where you are not competing with Google, Apple, Facebook and 6,000 other companies.

  • Stop complaining and find a way. That’s what Silicon Valley does best.