Is San Francisco the New Epicenter of Silicon Valley?

September 6, 2010

For years it’s been an open secret – young entrepreneurs and tech-savvy folks who work for the big Silicon Valley conglomerates have been living in San Francisco while commuting to Silicon Valley. After all, does anyone really relocate to northern California to live in Mountain View?

Now it appears that many of these people also did not move to the Bay Area to commute. They’ve started companies in San Francisco proper – not 30 or 40 miles south on the 101 freeway in Palo Alto or San Jose, traditional epicenters of what’s typically considered Silicon Valley.

According to the San Francisco Sunday Examiner, San Francisco has been “beating out South Bay cities for venture capital, boosting key sectors and creating a hotbed of growing firms.” Software companies, social media, gaming, green tech and biotech are leading the pack of industry sectors attracting the VC dollars.

Good news for the entire innovative tech industry in the Bay Area (which includes Silicon Valley and San Francisco): “investors poured nearly $3 billion into Bay Area companies in the past three months – a 100 percent increase from the first quarter.” More than $283 million went to companies located in San Francisco. (Read more)


Australians on Building a Brand in the US

August 17, 2010

The Advance Lounge Chair Series in Los Angeles last week featured a panel of Australians with experience on building a brand in the US. Some great first-hand tips for Australian entrepreneurs considering the US market.

For more videos from Advance, please click here.


Why Australian Entrepreneurs Should Give Silicon Valley a Try

August 10, 2010

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.


‘Mad Men’ for Startups

August 3, 2010

USA Today business reporter Rhonda Abrams watched last week’s season 4 premiere of “Mad Men” with a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. And why not? Season 4 of this hit TV show about life at a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the swinging ’60s kicks off with a startup launch of its own. What did the new firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce do right?

• Balance team strengths.
• Think “out of the box.”
• Move fast.
• Stay flexible.

And what did they do wrong?

• Rent expensive offices.
• Overdependence on one or two customers.
• Lack of staff diversity.
• Partner with people you don’t trust.
• Single tasking.

Read the full article, “Mad Men offers good business lessons” here. Hat tip to the Dateline Media blog for capturing this first.


ANZA’s 1st Gateway to US Webinar on US Business Opportunities a Hit with Aussie Entrepreneurs

July 13, 2010

Over 100 Australian entrepreneurs and CEOs of growing companies seeking US market commercialization advice attended ANZA’s first Gateway to the US webinar yesterday.

“Expanding Your Business to the US: Myths and Realities” took into consideration that most Australian entrepreneurs have some idea about US market opportunities, but the ability to explore and execute them from across the Pacific is difficult.

Susan Hailey, a veteran Silicon Valley insider with more than 20 years in elite recruitment for some of the Valley’s biggest tech companies – and most promising startups – talked about the culture of networking in Silicon Valley and how newcomers to the area can begin to immerse themselves in the unique Valley ecosystem. The front-page story from the San Jose Mercury News that she referenced, “Buck’s Café serves up venture capital with the granola” can be found here.

David Evans, CEO and Founder of Starplayit, an Adelaide startup now focusing on a US exit strategy from Silicon Valley, talked about the global opportunity the US offers in contrast with being based in Australia. For several years, David “commuted” between Australia and America, but even his presence in the States for considerable periods every few months was not enough for him to build and maintain the connections he will need for his successful exit. When asked how soon an Australian entrepreneur serious about the US market should relocate to America, David advised, “No reason you can’t start tomorrow.”

The webinar is the first in a 3-part series. There is still time to register for the next two free 1-hour webinars:

Companies interested in exploring their US market opportunities in full are encouraged to sign up for ANZA’s Gateway to the US One-Day Introductory Workshops held in Australia, 23 August – 1 September. Early bird pricing is now available. Click here to register.


America’s Most Innovative Cities

June 16, 2010

Forbes.com has named America’s top 20 most innovative cities. Of course, San Jose, CA – epicenter of Silicon Valley – ranks first, but the others are up-and-coming hotbeds of innovation, particularly the number 2 city on the list – Austin, TX. Australian entrepreneurs looking to expand into the US to be close to their customers should take a look at these alternatives to Silicon Valley. Click here for the snapshot (in pictures). Click here to read the story in full.

In a related story about being close to your customers, Brad Howarth reports on Australian companies that have opened offices in New York City in a piece for the Age.com, “Aussies in NY Empire Building Quest”.


Australia’s Key Role in US / China Relations

June 12, 2010

Peter Beattie, former premier of Queensland and former state commissioner for the Americas, proposes how Australia can play a key role with the world’s two largest economies – the US and China, in the 12 June edition of The Australian.

In “Here’s Our Chance to Share the Spoils with the Emerging Gang of Two,” Beattie explains:

…The dominant players in the global economy, the US and China, form a Group of Two, giving the world a leadership team of Hu Jintao and Obama. The days of world economic dominance by the US are coming to an end; it will now have to share the power.

The US is by far the world’s biggest economy. Next year China will be No 2 instead of Japan…. Both countries are critical players in global security and nuclear non-proliferation issues. For all the wisdom of the creation of the G20 group of countries to replace the G8, the reality is that there will be in effect a G2…. [and] fortunately for Australia we are strategically located in the Asia-Pacific region, with unsurpassed historical links to both the US and China…. we are a clever country supported by a culture of innovation…we are well placed to be a key partner of the Sino-American generation of the immediate future.

…It’s in everybody’s interest that [the US and China] co-operate and bring new technologies on line, at industrial scale, as quickly as possible. With the prospect of world domination in clean energy, it’s also in their economic interests.

For America’s part, it wants clever international partners who can bring innovative technologies and processes to the US economy, then sell them to the world.

This is Australia’s opportunity…. The formula is simple: partner with the US to help it co-operate with China and Australia cements a meaningful place in the US-China-dominated economy of 2030 and beyond. (Read more)