Brad Feld

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The Irrelevance of Silicon Valley Envy

Aug 07, 2008
Category Places

A few weeks ago I wrote about the AEA survey that ranked Boulder as the #2 CyberCity in the US.  I suggested that this was misleading since #1 was "San Jose/Silicon Valley", which is not actually a city.  If you’d decomposed "San Jose/Silicon Valley" into the various cities that actually make up Silicon Valley, they would have been #1 through at least #5 and Boulder would have been #6.

Ever since I’m moved to Boulder in 1995, the "what do we need to do to be more like Silicon Valley" meme pops up ever regularly.  I’ve spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley, have lots of friends and colleagues there, and have made (and continue to make) lots of investments there.  It’s a special and unique place. 

Over the years, I’ve asserted that Colorado has no business trying to "be like" Silicon Valley.   There are lots of things that Colorado can learn from Silicon Valley and a lot of them are happening / being created in Boulder right now.  However, it’s a great example of the cliche of "applying best practices" (where Boulder is learning from and applying the best practices of Silicon Valley) rather than strict emulation.

This came up in an interview with me on ColoradoBizTV that just went up today. I have a three minute riff on why "Boulder, Denver, and Colorado in general ebbs and flows with Silicon Valley envy and that’s an error" and why "the Boulder entrepreneurial scene is as healthy as it’s ever been."