Tom Coates gives a summary of the main points from a keynote from Paul Graham called “How American are startups?” and described his views on how SiliconValley breeds success and whether it can be replicated. The main points are below, but I wonder how many of these Ireland has already and do we need to adopt the rest to allow for better entreprenurship?
1. Allows immigration
2. Isn’t a poor country
3. Not a police state
4. High quality universities
5. You can fire people
6. Attitudes that don’t associate ‘working’ with being employed
7. Not anal about business regulations
8. Huge domestic market
9. High levels of funding
10. People comfortable with career switching
Read the comments though. Some very interesting ones including:
And if there’s one giant difference between the Bay Area and London that accounts for the differing startup climates, I’d say that it was cynicism. People in the Bay Area are optimistic about technology to the point of being starry-eyed and they possess a completely unabashed sense of ambition. In the years since I moved to London, I’ve felt a palpable cynicism about technology and about ambition: anyone who says anything grandiose about technology and what you might do with it is apt to be greeted with eye-rolling and pedantic, picky objections.
By contrast, the mantra of the San Francisco geek is more like, “Technology kicks so much fucking ass I am about to explode. Soon everyone will realize this.”
One other major contributor to California’s technology success (especially as compared to Route 128) is that noncompete agreements aren’t enforceable in Cali. That has led to a culture of aggressive poaching and promiscuous job-hopping through which the best and the brightest go from company to company, spreading the best ideas from each. That’s kept things growing very fast in California indeed.
Some of the biggest Web 2.0 success stories have started with no VC, no backing and people working in their spare time to create something “because it’s cool”. In at least some of them, they went live (or at least beta) for months before they ever needed to talk to rich people. Bootstrapping is the new burn rate.
So where do you find people who no longer have to spend their entire life trying to survive? Because isn’t it that which always acts as the trigger for civilisation to move forwards?
Silicon Valley seems to me to have an incredibly interesting social environment – I don’t mean pubs and parties, I mean that you’re surrounded by other people “making a go of it”, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, but trying.
The financial and general business-helping ecology seems a lot more diverse in California than it is here. More kinds of venture capital, from the risk-friendly to the risk averse, more places to partner with, more ways to set up, more ways to do business.