Last week, I made a counterintuitive move to San Jose from San Francisco, where social media startups are booming. Why downtown San Jose, which is slow compared to Palo Alto and SF? For one, the Irish Innovation Center (www.irishic.com) is backed by a powerful group of Irish American tech folks, led by former Intel CEO Craig Barrett, so startups get a lot of attention compared to other incubators.
Besides being contrarian, “aiming ahead of the puck” is another reason. Office vacancy in Palo Alto and Mountain View are virtually zero so startups need to move southward toward Santa Clara and San Jose. Many are moving along the Caltrain line since many young college grads are commuting by train and walking or biking to avoid traffic jams and be eco-friendly. In SF, startups are moving eastward along BART to Oakland, Hayward and Dublin.
How will this affect Silicon Valley? The valley is basically encompassing the entire SF Bay Area with its digital footprint. People no longer have to commute to the Palo Alto-to-Santa Clara corridor to work, but can find fast-growing startups popping up in their cities. Most are unknown and non-tech hiring is done informally so one needs to be networked.
Is the move worth it? I’m advising a sales training group that closed a $500K contract within two days so it’s already paying off. We’re launching a mobile startup soon, which promises to revolutionize the way corporate sales training is done.