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A tale of two tech citiesIs there a difference between tech startups in Silicon Valley vs. Los Angeles? Most emphatically, Yes!
I’ve spent the last year running a tech company based in Santa Monica, CA and I’ve spent countless weeks in the Bay meeting with hundreds of tech founders. As unreliable as stereotypes may be, these are my generalizations.
Bay area founders are amazing technologists. They build obsessively user focused products, do a fantastic job at virally driving a ton of traffic, but usually have their head up their ass when it comes to making money.
Los Angles founders are hustlers and deal makers. They are more focused on the bottom line and care more about their P&L than their products, which tend to be messy.
At parties in the Bay people talk about Twitter, Friend Feed, what’s being written on Valleywag and Techcrunch, and kickball games between VC’s and entrepreneurs.
At parties in Los Angeles people talk about a media deal they’re “closing”, what TV star is at the party, and some “gray hat” spam-like technique that made them an extra 100K last month.
Folks in the Bay are generally way more obsessive about their products, work harder/longer, can be a bit snobby about their accomplishments and tend to be clique-ish.
Folks in Los Angeles are shrewder business people, have better interpersonal skills, but are more full of shit and two faced, and struggle to build products that get virally adopted.
Some of the Entrepreneurs in the Bay I’ve learned the most from are:
Greg Tseng – smartest person I’ve ever met about user viral marketing and A/B testing
Michael Arrington – undeniably the hardest worker, obsessive about his product and content
Mark Zuckerberg & Reid Hoffman – hands down built the two best consumer internet applications on the web
Raj Kapoor – a hawk about understanding the metrics that drive the growth of online communities
Some of the Entrepreneurs in Los Angeles I’ve learned the most from are:
Kamran Pourzanjani – best deal maker and negotiator in the web space I’ve met
Matt Coffin – guru at scalable revenue models and identifying and exploiting profit centers
Peter Pham – best networker / connector in web 2.0
Jason Calacanis – master promoter of online buzz / controversy
Michael Jones – most intuitively curious and overall talented web entrepreneur in LA
Other than just trying to piss a bunch of people off for hyper-generalizing, there is an important take-away.
The next few years will be an economic apocalypse the likes of which most of us have never lived through before. Many are going to get washed away in the storm, while others will show their true colors and rise to the cream of the crop.
In order to succeed in the future, web entrepreneurs will have to learn how to incorporate the DNA of both Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.
The goal is to be monetization masters who are focused on consumers and build viral, capital efficient products, and to leave behind the full of shit, spam artists who are snobby about not making money.