Reddit killing Silicon Valley?

October 15, 2007

The Reddit alien doesn’t like unliveable cities.Paul Graham says you need to move to Silicon Valley to compete in this industry. That is, it’s “the” place for techy, web-centric startups, so people from all around the world move there. He claims Silicon Valley will stay dominant because there is a lot of venture capital funding in that area. However, the more we potential immigrants find out about this supposed holy land, the less we want to live there.

The longer we read Reddit and other social sources of links and news, the less enamored people feel about the idea of living in America. First, it’s now easier to be connected and on the ball, without having to physically be next door to your competitors. More importantly, the constant stream of articles on police brutality, destruction of civil liberties, and the ultra-conservative politics in the States are making people wary of even living there for a while, let alone putting any roots down there. It’s presumably blown out of proportion on Reddit, but reading these American news sources and sites make you feel like just visiting is going to get you thrown into a secret prison.

America is falling further and further behind the rest of the developed world in terms of progressive thinking. No health care, weak education, weak human rights, unsustainable economy, and car-choked suburban sprawl. Paul Graham himself once said that Silicon Valley, like most American cities, is an soulless mess of suburbia:

For all its power, Silicon Valley has a great weakness: the paradise Shockley found in 1956 is now one giant parking lot. San Francisco and Berkeley are great, but they’re forty miles away. Silicon Valley proper is soul-crushing suburban sprawl.

Ambitious techy types can choose where they want to live. Now that tech companies can be started with no funding and virtually no operating costs, you should be able to attract better employees in a city that’s great to live in, rather than just the one it’s easy to get VC funding in. Inevitably, people will start picking places to live with proper health care, transportation, and governments. So next time you’re planning to do an internet startup, how about Vancouver, Waterloo, or even Luxembourg?

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.