Brad Feld

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Smart and Interesting People in Reston

Nov 01, 2007
Category Technology

I’m in Reston, Virginia today at the The New New Internet Conference.  Brian Williams – the CEO of Viget Labs – invited me to speak on a panel after spending some time this summer in Boulder with the TechStars gang. 

A lot of my friends that live in Silicon Valley rarely stray out of Silicon Valley.  “Center of the startup universe” is no longer a cliche – rather, it’s like a scab that has been picked so many times it no longer will heal.  Silicon Valley is a critically important place in the world for creating companies, but it’s not the only place smart people that are doing interesting and important things hang out.

Last night at the pre-conference dinner I found a bunch of this type of person including dudes like Ryan Carson, Frank GruberTim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Rohit Bhargava.  Om Malik hung out, teased me about my clothing, and had a conversation with James Surowiecki that I snooped on. 

While Silicon Valley is on a fault line (literally and metaphorically), it’s important not to forget all the other interesting stuff going on “not in Silicon Valley.” 

For example, at this conference there is a “Government Track” with topics such as “Web 2.0 at the State Level”, “Current Web 2.0 Initiatives within Government Agencies”, “Virtual Government: Real Life Uses for Second Life”, “Intellipedia”, and “Let my data go! Making the case for transparent Government.” 

Now – before you go “yawn” or “Government 2.0” – remember my premise that the next 36 months will see massive crossover adoption into the enterprise (and government) of the consumer Internet innovations we’ve seen in the past 24 months.  Assuming that is correct, the dollars that will be spent are going to be massive and much of it will happen in Fortune 5000 headquarters and large government agencies that aren’t based in Silicon Valley.

A wise man once told me “go visit your customers.”  Today, he might say something like “son – buy a plane ticket and fly somewhere other than the center of the startup universe just to see what is going on and how people are thinking about this stuff.”