Six reasons to base your business in the Bay Area

Rebecca Weeks Watson · July 8, 2008 · Short URL:

 Editor's Note: Is the Valley still tops for entrepreneurs? Rebecca Weeks sure thinks so.



You’ve got a ground-breaking idea, a solid business plan, encouragement from friends and family, and enough cash to live on for three months. Now what do you do? You move to Silicon Valley as fast as you possibly can. Why?


1. Intellectual capital

You need access to outstanding human capital who can – like you – wear several “hats” at one time, right? Silicon Valley is a mecca for bright minds that are hungry to make an impact. The San Francisco Bay Area population is near the top in the nation for overall education level and several outstanding universities, including the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the University of California, San Francisco, provide access to inexpensive but valuable interns. The area’s risk-taking ethos lures talented immigrants who often chance everything to come to the United States. Many of these end up becoming millionaires, having sold their companies to the Google’s and Cisco’s of the world. In 2006, The New York Times wrote, “Silicon Valley is the one place that is responsible more than any other for creating the network technology that supposedly renders geography irrelevant.”


2. Resources within reach

There is no region with more easily accessible and knowledgeable support for entrepreneurs than the Bay Area. Financing is omnipresent, and I’m not just referring to the large venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road. Angel investors can be found milling around Peets Coffee or grabbing lunch in South Park in San Francisco. These sources of wealth and the number of wealthy individuals are growing steadily over time, despite the economic downturn. What’s more, the Bay Area ecosystem includes head hunters, real estate agents, accountants, and lawyers who understand an entrepreneur's needs and challenges. There are even non-profit groups that help accelerate new businesses.


3. Free networking

On any day of the week you can find a group of professionals in your industry sharing ideas, talking about best practices, listening to an expert speaker, and collaborating. For example, digital media executives like me attend events by San Francisco Bay Area Interactive Group (SF BIG), Women 2.0, SF New Tech Meetup, Dealmaker Media, and dozens more. Even if you’re looking for other Ruby on Rails engineers who live in San Mateo and share your love of Guitar Hero, I bet you can find this group.


4. New media adoption

Two-thirds of San Fransciso’s population have HDTV; half know how to twitter; and one third maintain a blog. Admittedly, I just made up these statistics, but seriously – they can’t be too far off. The Bay Area, as a region, is far ahead of the rest of the country in broadband adoption at 76 percent, versus 47 percent of the total U.S. population in 2007 according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Frustrated that there are only 24 hours in a day, Bay Area locals are magnets to emerging platforms that make communication faster, easier and more efficient. If you want to test your new technology product’s adoption rate, just head to Union Square to hang out with some teens. This “Facebook generation” is proof that social media is connecting the world and globalizing media consumption.


As one blogger new to San Francisco put it: “The Valley itself is Web 2.0 incarnate: a Disneyland for early adopters, where both heroes and villains burst out of the web page into full color, three-dimensional reality. And for the newbie San Franciscan, there’s a novelty to Twittering as you wander past the Twitter offices; pulling up Digg on your iPhone as you cruise by Digger HQ. Emails, once from faceless industry moguls, take on a human voice. Where else can you almost get run over by a horn-tooting UStream founder, or drop by coffee shops where half the clientele not only know what FriendFeed is, but actually use it?”


5. Respect

Similar to how politicians are considered “celebrities” in D.C., in the Bay Area it’s entrepreneurs who are respected, encouraged, and put on a pedestal. To tolerate the unknown and these risk-takers aren’t just smart, they’re truly dynamic and brilliant. Take a look at who’s profiled in leading business publications – the founders of Salesforce, BlueLithium, Youtube, etc. No longer are serial entrepreneurs considered eccentric.


Nowadays, it’s the underdogs who are esteemed and sought after. East coast based traditional media companies have been begging and acquiring digital media and publishing startups right and left, thereby transferring the position of power out west. According to a BDO Siedman study released in February, CFOs of companies based in Silicon Valley were more optimistic than CFOs in other regions, as fifty-nine percent of CFOs believe that merger and acquisition activity in the tech sector will pick up, compared to only thirty-six percent of companies not located in Silicon Valley.


6. Escapes

Just when you think you’ve had too many late nights coding and not enough fresh air, you can easily hop in the car and venture to dozens of gorgeous Bay Area scenic spots that will get your legs and lungs pumping. You can hike in Marin, ski in Tahoe, bike over the Golden Gate bridge, taste wine in Napa, surf at Ocean Beach, golf in Monterey…the list goes on and on. The variety and stunning beauty of these options aren’t offered in the likes of New York or L.A.


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