Business Finance Innovation Technology

To be or not to be – in Silicon Valley

I had the opportunity to attended the Future of Web Apps (FOWA) conference in London 3-5 October ’07. A key talk I eagerly awaited was one by Paul Graham on “The Future of Web Startups“. In his talk, Graham made a point, that to really succeed startups need to move to a hub like, and especially, Silicon Valley.

Ryan Carson, the organiser of the event, was not convinced by Graham’s claim and asserted his opinion on the stage after the talk. According to him, startups needn’t be in Silicon Valley to succeed.

This confutation was catered-to by Paul Graham in his following article/essay “Why to move to a startup hub” which in-turn spawned a debate led by Ryan Carson here and here.

According to Paul Graham’s earlier essay “How to be Silicon Valley” states that it is possible to make another hub like Silicon Valley. I agree with Ryan that London has a great potential to be a successful startup hub.

Single most important ingredient, pointed out by Graham for a hub is people, mainly young, smart and tanlented students/graduates. London is home to institutions like Imperial college and Univeristy College London, and is not very far from centres of excellence – Cambridge and Oxford.

The second key ingredient for a hub according to Graham is potential rich investors. Rich people/organisations exist in London and are becoming more and more willing to invest in tech startups.

If it is not already happening, with the right guidance and initiative, talents from the above mentioned universities can initiate ideas for startups from where they are based and come to London for the investments to take their venture further.

With initiatives like Seedcamp, OpenCoffee and FOWA, the interaction between these various entities is bound to grow and will increasingly attract startups from across Europe. Once that happens, it will lead to a snowball effect.

PS. Elsewhere, David Heinemeier Hanson form 37Signals is of the opinion that even people from the same startup don’t need be in the same place to be successful, which adds another interesting dimension to the debate.