Why Australian Entrepreneurs Should Give Silicon Valley a Try

Guest post by Elias Bizannes, chairman of the DataPortability Project and a promoter of Australian technology through Silicon Beach

Last year I took a position with Vast.com in San Francisco. As a passionate supporter of Australian technology and its place on the global stage, I’ve also come to the realization that we can’t begin to conquer the world from Australia. We need to take advantage of the open door policy Silicon Valley affords Australian entrepreneurs. Why? Let’s start with the talent concentration. Two examples to illustrate:

    1) Language: In Silicon Valley people operate on a different level. It is the technology capital of the world and the people here live and breathe tech – 24/7. They talk about run rates and burn in a way that demonstrates the way they innately know the industry average, like how people know the weather during different times of the year.
    2) It’s a magnet: The Valley draws from around the world a certain personality type. The Aussies who come here are no exception. The Bay Area has one of the highest concentrations of university graduates in America, and the world. The people are smart here, they are competitive and they are hungry. Immersing yourself in this culture, simply through osmosis you start evolving your own abilities. Within a short time, you find yourself talking about how to start a business to talking about building a billion dollar business.

A year later, I’m more convinced than ever that the best way we are going to move Australia forward into having its own Silicon Valley-like ecosystem is by having our best brightest people move here for a few years. After a generation, we’ll have the talent concentration we talk about in Australia. And the Americans won’t mind how much we’ve borrowed from them.

4 Responses to Why Australian Entrepreneurs Should Give Silicon Valley a Try

  1. Matt Clarke says:

    Elias. I have just returned from a week in the Valley and you are spot on in your assessment. It’s literally another planet over there from a business mindset and business culture perspective.

    Clearly, given Aus is 3-4% of the total market, it makes sense to have the bulk of sales and marketing in the US, Europe and Asia but do you think Australian tech companies can build massive global businesses and keep their R&D and IP in Australia? Does this affect a business’ ability to get funded?

    Back to you.

    • Elias says:

      I think having R&D based in Australia works – Aussie engineers for example are very competent and will be more loyal than their Silicon Valley counterparts. Having said that though, it’s rare for an investor to fund a company if the development team and the CEO are not nearby.

  2. Matt Clarke says:

    Atlassian is the Australian poster child and have shown that you can build a great business with dev in Aus. But yes I agree re CEO, Marketing and Business Development.

  3. vikiforrest says:

    There are 2 pieces to this question; R&D and IP. Investors will be concerned about IP ownership, i.e. they’ll want to invest in the company that owns the IP. The geographic location of the R&D is of little consequence. For Australian companies this usually means the IP moves with the CEO/sales team to the US company and the R&D is where the talent is (usually Australia).

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