More articles by Richard L. Tso
Is Silicon Beach the Next Silicon Valley? Tech Startups Flock to L.A.
Los Angeles is known for its sunshine, sand . . . and now silicon. Southern California, also known as ‘Silicon Beach’ by many, is quickly gaining a reputation for being the up-and-coming region for emerging technology startups. The area is attracting high-caliber talent and serious venture funding for tech-based startup companies looking to take their next board meeting at the beach.
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Solidifying Silicon Beach’s position as the next Silicon Valley is the arrival of Google, which has moved into the avant-garde, beachfront community of Venice. Google has placed technology and sales teams inside 100,000 square feet of office space in the Binocular building, originally designed by Frank Gehry. Google is reportedly aiming to lease another 100,000 square feet of office space nearby.
Facebook also has plans to expand their presence in Southern California into a building just a few miles south of Venice.
“This is a place where people have come for years to make dreams happen, so why shouldn’t they come here to make their technology dreams happen?” asks Michael Weir, a Silicon Valley transplant who is now Chief Marketing Officer for Sparqlight, an enterprise software startup in Santa Monica. “There’s no place in Los Angeles like Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley. You can go up there, there’s 60 or 70 VCs, and they are all within a square mile of each other.”
Bridging the gap between the nation’s top entertainment and technology startups, one startup facilities and resource management company Real Office Centers (ROC), is paving the way for companies and investors to take root and succeed in Silicon Beach. ROC’s goal is to bring together universities, startups, and investors in one place and has partnered with LA’s top event companies like General Assembly, TechZulu, and Digital LA to host targeted industry networking events such as LA’s Silicon Beach Fest. ROC has attracted startups from the top accelerators StartEngine, MuckerLab, and LaunchpadLA who have been drawn to ROC’s business model because of its unique shared office workplace that includes their digital editing bays, green screen, and soon-to-come radio and live podcast center.
Part of ROC Ventures is to provide a platform where companies, investors and universities unite to fund, back, and engineer future success stories. ROC is home to venture capital firms, angel investors, and the companies they invest in, in addition to having partnered with USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Anderson, and Annenberg Center. ROC is bringing the best talent Los Angeles has to offer in one neutral space for the highest level of collaboration.
“Conception of ROC had to consist of every essential aspect of a company’s development, not just the physical space,” said Ron McElroy, CEO of ROC. “The result was to come up with an endeavor that could pull together the Venture Capital, the advisors, the education, the events, digital media and green and clean initiatives all under one roof, not to forget the all important dedicated space that is so very crucial to growing companies as they mature.”
The model is reminiscent of the well-known Silicon Valley company Plug and Play Tech Center that helps create an shared office-space with access to legal, accounting, venture capital, hiring, educational, and entrepreneur resources. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, PlugandPlayTechCenter.com is a community of over 280 technology startup companies in the areas of Web 2.0, software (SaaS), systems, semiconductor and telecomm verticals. Since its inception in January 2006, the center has helped the startups raise in excess of $750 million in venture funding.
Other companies like Pivotdesk are helping to match startups with available shared office-spaces around the country.
“Our goal is to find the most promising companies in the world, invest in them and help them grow,” said Saeed Amidi, founder and CEO of Plug and Play Tech Center.
McElroy added, “ROC is funded from an array of private investors who understand that the emerging market is growing at an exponential rate that many feel will dwarf the dotcom era. A small few have gamed the system so hard and it has become so harmful, leaving little choice for youth to come from an education and into a scorched economic landscape. They have no choice but to strike out on their own, but the difference now is that CAPITAL is willing to bet on them, versus big corporate America or the gaming attitudes of Wall Street. They are taking the streets back, and it’s happening before our eyes!”
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