Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider
It’s been a little more than three months since I moved from Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley.I lived in the valley for more than a year and a half, and I don’t want to go back.
Here are just a couple observations I’ve seen that make New York, and Silicon Alley, different — and better — than San Francisco and Silicon Valley:
- San Francisco, at times, is snooty and pretentious: If you aren’t among the elite in Google, Twitter or Facebook or the likes, then you’re a step below everyone else. It’s great to stroke the egos of your engineers like Google does, but the end result is a sense of superiority among many of the tech intelligentsia. It’s definitely not everyone, but the vibe is there.
- The talent pool in New York is diverse: In San Francisco, you’ll find a bevvy of engineering talents that everyone is vying to acquire. Recruiting can be tenuous and if you’re a top engineer you have to be constantly aware of potential poaching offers. But that’s just for the engineers — in New York, there’s a massive collection of engineers, designers, ad ops and just about every other position.
- There’s an “all in this together” mentality out here: New York is the underdog in tech, but that has a positive effect on the vibe out here. Everyone is essentially trying to make sure other companies succeed in order to keep talent in New York and attract new talent. As a result, there’s still plenty of competition, but it isn’t caustic or agonizing.
- New York is a nerve centre: San Francisco is a bit of an insulated tech bubble, but New York is directly connected to major cities like Boston that have a huge amount of new talent. In early days, San Francisco was able to rip that talent away from schools like MIT, but New York is becoming an increasingly viable option for that talent thanks to its proximity — and there are direct transportation lines to cities like Boston, Philadelphia and the likes.
- The city is alive: Take this one from Turntable.fm’s Billy Chasen — “an investor once said to me, ‘move the company to Palo Alto because there’s nothing to do here so you’ll have nothing to do but code.’ That’s when I decided to stay in NYC.” There is so much to do and see in New York — more so than San Francisco — that it will go a long way to attracting new talent from around the world. Most major tech company has opened an office in New York for that same reason: to find new talent that wants to live in New York.
- Transportation: Seriously, Caltrain sucks. It’s awful, and it’s the only way to get to the South Bay — where all the awesome companies are — without a car. You can get anywhere in New York without trying. It seems trivial, but it makes a huge difference, and I’m not the only one that’s held that opinion.
This probably won’t be the same for everyone, and they are just observations. Silicon Valley is still an unbelievably potent place and the tech hub for the universe.
Things just seem so much more exciting out here.