Thursday, October 25, 2007

New York vs. Silicon Valley... again...

The debate on Silicon Valley vs. New York for startups rages on. Today's post on Silicon Alley Insider "Quit Whining: How To Make An NYC Startup Work" says that lack of space, technical people, lawyers and funding is all bs.

My opinion is that startups are hard, really hard. I've been in one, run one through to an IPO and am now doing another one. They're fun but they are hard (did I say that already?). Being in silicon valley reduces the risk. You have access to more talent, more understanding landlords, more VCs and experienced venture lawyers. You have access to the entrepreneurial fever - to crazy technologists who'll work all night to crack a hard problem - to advisors who've done it before and can help you get through the dark nights when you think maybe your idea is never going to work.

When I took over FirstRain two and a half years ago I moved the company from Manhattan to Foster City. It was a deliberate decision and one I told the board I would do before I accepted the job. The personnel I moved were all engineering and product design, the rest I rehired. It was not an easy decision for my employees but it was the right decision to be able to get the level of talent in required to build a system of the technology depth that we need to use the web as a research base for institutional grade investors. I left the sales team in New York - after all that is where our customers are - and the only time I ever question my decision is about 3 hours into a red eye from SFO to JFK, which I do frequently. Otherwise I know it was the best decision for the company and for my engineers.

I just think that the risk in startups is high enough already. If you can get your idea to silicon valley you should. You should take every avenue you can to reduce risk so that the remaining risk is in your idea and your ability to execute.

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