Paul Graham Strikes Again

I love reading Paul Graham. He’s a must read for anyone in the technology business, especially anyone who is either involved with or considering a startup. His latest essay, “How to Fund a Startup” is an excellent read and very timely for me. Howevever I do take exception to his third note, which states:

[3] If “near you” doesn’t mean the Bay Area, Boston, or Seattle, consider moving. It’s not a coincidence you haven’t heard of many startups from Philadelphia.

If the Internet has done anything, it’s changed the dynamics of the workplace such that it doesn’t really matter where you’re located anymore. I’m still highly in favor of having a physical office and a place where people can collaborate, but as long as you can find your core team where you’re located, you can fill in the rest from wherever in the world you so choose. I lived in Arkansas for 23 years. I’ve lived in Seattle for 2. I’ve met a lot of technology people out here, and lot of them are very smart, but I also know a lot of incredibly smart technology people back home in Arkansas as well. I’d take anyone’s bet that I could start a software company and develop software on par with any California company from my home state (perhaps with some work filled in from overseas or out of state, but that’s what this whole Internet thing is about). If we’re still thinking that all successful startup technology companies need to be located in one of those three places, things really haven’t changed. I’m very disappointed in Paul, because I would have thought of all the people I respected and read on a regular basis he would have thought differently. I guess old prejudices never die.

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4 Comments on “Paul Graham Strikes Again”

  1. adam says:

    Tricky thing, this startup biz. Best to keep the day job, I think. Bootstrap it during downtime. Depends of course on your timeframe.
    Email me dude. Let’s chat.

  2. wac says:

    What Mr. Graham may be pointing out here is there are a lot of venture capitalists centered in the cities mentioned. That isn’t necessarily the case elsewhere, and many (dare I say most?) small tech companies need some seed money to get off the ground. It likely has more to do with the availability of cash, rather than the tech skills of the people there.

    Of course, I didn’t RTFA so I may be putting words in his mouth.

  3. I say it’s all about leverage… leveraging your professional carreer into your startup… Like blogging…we blog for various reasons like visibility, credibility… connection to peers… to elevate the conversation… abstract ideas.. but just because we don’t necissarily produce direct revenue doesn’t mean that it can’t have one of the best ROI’s of anything you might invest on.

    So too with startups… there can be huge benifits… it just depends on aligning your goals and thinking about residual benifits… Hell the whole open source community functions on the residuals… it’s a huge economy before monetization even takes place… I call it “the economy beyond money”.

    As for VC funding… I strongly agree that even at the level of several millions of dollars the most important thing a startup gets is the advice and expertise of an expert startup developer, the VC and their various resources. We put far to much emphsis on money in the early stages and not enough value on social capital… We need to a new system for accounting that’s beyond money… Anyone got one? 🙂

    Peace, Mike

  4. Just as long as you don’t starve to death. 🙂


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