Why have you moved to the USA?
I get asked often by Brits “Why did you do it?” who are surprised at me moving the family back to San Francisco. To be honest the majority of these people have either a) never been to SF and/or b) are not in technology. They see SF as a part of America and from the American’s they meet in the UK and see in films they don’t like them.
But Silicon Vally and San Francisco are not traditional America; the red neck America you see in movies, the false Los Angeles you see in Hello magazine, the retirement belt of Florida, or the “I’m so busy I am rude” view of New York. Northern California is a little bubble somehow disconnected from the rest of America. Fuelled by the tech boom, with stunning scenery, skiing and the wine country less than 3 hours away, walking that rivals the Welsh scenery 10 mins away, a fairly relaxed attitude to life and a great climate, it is a fantastic place to live. Combined with the majority of the world’s entrepreneurs happy to share their experiences of building world class tech companies, and the vast levels of venture capital money, it is the perfect place to grow a tech company. But brutally expensive.
I wrote a recent article for The PR Network with a Brit’s impressions of living in the US and contrasting it with the 15 years I spend in the UK building Nimbus until it was acquired y TIBCO. Writing it was fascinating and made ask me the question “Why didn’t I move out sooner:” One reasons is the US is often the graveyard for UK companies looking to expand. There are clear some recent successes – Huddle, BrightTalk and of course Nimbus. But each has taken a huge risk and embraced the Silicon Valley culture and it requires a significant personal and financial commitment.
Moving your business and family to Silicon Valley or SF is a huge undertaking. Trust me, I know. We have done it twice. Once whilst running Nimbus and then again 6 months ago. (Long story , but after the acquisition we had a week to move back to the UK). We have gathered a vast level of experience, gained at great cost, on how to move business operation and get a foothold, move family, relocate kids in schools, and get your belongings shipped and a new home set up.
So rather than waste that experience my wife an I are writing a book “Thinking of moving business and family to Silicon Valley? Ask teh Smart Questions”. If is published by Smart Questions who have a number of similar styles books. If you are interested in contributing or seeing an early draft please email me.
But that leads to the recent negative press it has been getting. The vast salaries being paid to software engineers and marketing staff is driving up rental house prices. And the number of self-made millionaires o fuelling a housing bubble at the top end. Which is also why you see so many Tesla S electric cars in the area. And the money in the area is polarising the City and tension is building. A rousing group of activists are trying to oust technology from the city and a recent ugly exchange centered on the Google buses that transport staff from the City to their campus.
But for all its problems it remains a fascinating area which is largely misunderstood. Pando Daily recently wrote an excellent article on the Silicon Vally tech bubble but their observations and conclusions are correct , but somewhat surprising to the outside osberver.
I urge you to read up about the area before you write it off. And if you do decide to visit, why not download the FREE eBook “The Insiders Guide to SF“.