The Purpose of Silicon Valley

The Purpose of Silicon Valley

Good morning, All,

Our next Breakfast with an Investor will be Wednesday, February 18th and our guest investor is Alicia Syrett, Founder and CEO of Pantegrion Capital, an angel investment firm that focuses on seed and early stage investments, and a member of several angel networks, including Golden Seeds and NY Angels. She’s a very active investor and startup advisor – and she’s currently looking for NYC-based early stage investments. For the record, because we keep the group small, every investor who has spoken at one of our breakfasts so far has made him or herself available to attendees afterwards, meaning private consultation. RSVP here and hope to see you there!

We’ve noticed lately that New York has been experiencing unprecedented amounts of funding flowing to startups here – as it has to elsewhere, globally – and while it may pale compared to Silicon Valley, we still can’t ignore the fact that the industry has grown beyond being All Silicon Valley, All the Time.

That’s not the only change that we’ve noticed. There’s also been quite a bit of megafundings lately and investors seeding companies with veritable war chests (Huge VC investments into Uber, Airbnb stifle competition). As the author notes, we’re in a marketplace economy – to some extent, and from the point of view of investors who are putting their money into the Lyfts and Ubers and Airbnbs of the world – and when we see investments and valuations like these, that’s when that question starts to rear its head again: are we in a bubble?

Or is it something else? Are the major players of the investment world deciding who the winners will be (and in a free market society, why not?), and if this is the case and maybe even more importantly, is the Valley on track to losing its way – and/or, given all of the above, its mojo? Here’s an interesting read for you: Thought Different. The Purpose of Silicon Valley. The article gives the basic history of Silicon Valley and posits that “Capital and engineering talent have been flocking to seemingly trivial mobile apps. But would we really be better off if more startups instead went directly after big problems?” Maybe the real question is: do they want to and what’s the motivation when you can build a Yo app in 15 minutes, get millions in funding from the Valley, and who cares if it’s gone in 15 minutes?

Nowhere is it written that tech has to save the world or solve all of its problems. In fact, it has probably caused as many problems and issues as it has addressed. It has been a long time since we’ve seen a Steve Jobs, nor is one likely to emerge any time soon. But one or two will. Once we get past this Era of Short Term Visionaries.

Let’s not forget that when you stifle competition, you also stifle innovation.

This Silicon Ceiling may be the reason why we may well be seeing more innovation coming from outside the borders of Silicon Valley. We do notice more and more that people are moving out of or away from the Bay Area and starting companies in NY, even coming from Europe and Asia, rather than making the usual beeline to the one-time Promised Land.

We don’t have the answers, just the questions, but it does seem to us that there is a shift happening. In a global industry, it’s more difficult to stay on top of the game when you’ve got your head stuck in a bubble of your own making.  Onward and forward.

Apologies if the newsletter is a bit disjointed today. Many of us in the tech community in NYC knew the driver of the SUV who was involved in the horrific train crash last week. It was a trying week.

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