Conditions for creating Silicon Valleys

Marvellous summary by Tom Coates of Paul Graham’s talk, “How American are start-ups?”, to XTech.

  • Silicon Valley is about an accumulation of people, not geography – get the right 10,000 people and you could recreate it
  • To create an environment which is conducive to start-ups you need two groups of people – rich people who are prepared to invest and lots of nerds
  • Government is not a good replacement for rich people / angel investors as they’re slow, invest inappropriately and don’t have the contacts or experience to support the right activity
  • For rich people and nerds to mix you need a location where lots of rich people who care about technology and lots of nerds want to be – New York has lots of rich people but no nerds, other places lots of nerds but no rich people
  • Places that attract nerds and rich people tend to be cosmopolitan, liberal, happy places like San Francisco where people walk around looking happy and with high levels of students going to high-class universities
  • Other features of good places potentially conducive to this kind of activity are: personality, good transport hubs and connections to the existing Silicon Valley, quietness, good weather, not about excitement.