Why Philly Tech Rocks
Apu Gupta’s article in the Wall Street Journal resonated with me, both professionally and geographically. Like Apu, I’m a Silicon Valley ex-pat. I’ve done venture-backed startups in Palo Alto and in Philadelphia, and I’m much happier doing tech in Philly.
Recently, Gartner analyst Carol Rozwell asked me about PeopleLinx’s decision to locate here. Maybe it was my imagination, but I heard some skepticism in her voice.
I replied with an unplanned, unscripted, unrehearsed rant on why I love doing a tech startup in Philly. Here, with a tip of my hat to Apu, is a replay of what I said.
Silicon Valley is wonderful, but…
…it’s very mature. Like many mature entities it wields enormous power. It’s also insular, entitled, and more than a little political. People aren’t much interested in what happens East of the Dumbarton Bridge. They expect, even demand, workplace perks and big exit valuations. Your personal worth is measured by where you can afford to live and by who looks up when you walk into Coupa Cafe. Silicon Valley is jaded.
I love Philly tech because it’s still fresh.
People who do tech startups in Philly still feel that giddy sense of wonder and magic that comes from starting something totally new. We don’t take it for granted. We still feel lucky and grateful to be doing what we’re doing. We’re scrappy.
Philly tech is the way I imagine Silicon Valley must have been before the personal computer boom, the first Internet boom, and the second Internet boom made startup success feel like a foregone conclusion. In the Valley, most employees don’t remember those days. In Philly, we’re still living them.
I’m sure it’s not just Philly. I expect you’d hear similar sentiments from startup folks in places like Toronto, Chicago, and tons of other cities East of the Dumbarton.
In America, we’re used to thinking of the East as the past and the West as the future. But when it comes to tech, the tables are turned. The Valley is experienced and satisfied. Philly is young and hungry.
I know where I’d rather be.