I’m completely biased. I think Silicon Valley, where I live and work, is the epicenter of technology innovation. It is to entrepreneurs what Hollywood is for film and New York is to finance.
Entrepreneurs are drawn to this area, and for many it makes good sense to set up shop here. The pioneering companies that were founded here, the access to venture capital, the proximity to world-class universities with incredible engineering departments, and the amazing weather gives Silicon Valley an edge.
When I was building my career, I went to Silicon Valley. There were so many innovative companies and such a vibrant startup scene. The energy was unmatched. It was like being in Florence during the Renaissance. I left for a few years for a job in Southern California and I missed the many sources of inspiration I found in the Bay Area. I felt lonely. I still served on boards in Bay Area and got my fix when I went for meetings. But it wasn’t enough. I was thrilled when Meg Whitman called with the opportunity to lead the team at eBay in Silicon Valley, so I could go back.
Things change over time and I’ve recently seen more of a migration from the Valley to San Francisco. With the rise of angel investors, raising money is easier and startups require less seed capital, so more very young people are founding companies. San Francisco has become a startup hotbed because that’s where they all want to live. Companies like Airbnb, Asana, Dropbox, Hipmunk, salesforce.com, Square, Vungle and Zendesk make San Francisco their home.
Of course innovation can happen anywhere. We’re seeing incredible things coming out of New York City, home to Etsy, Foursquare, Kickstarter, LocalResponse and Tumblr. Boston and Austin were historically next in the running after the Bay Area, but New York, which is investing in programs to support startups and spur innovation, is a serious contender now in that race.
All of this said, in the wired world where you are located is becoming less important. More and more, thanks to the Internet, videoconferencing and mobile devices, you can be anywhere and do great work. Our portfolio companies aren’t exclusively in the Bay Area: Lockpath is in Kansas, Grubwithus is in Los Angeles and Take Lessons is in San Diego. And Warren Buffet has always been the Oracle of Omaha. What’s most important isn’t where you are, but what you are working on and who you are doing it with.