News / USA

    California's 'Silicon Beach' Draws Tech Start-Ups

    LOS ANGELES — California's Silicon Valley, near San Francisco, is world famous as a haven for technology companies, including giants like Google and Facebook. Many young entrepreneurs are bypassing Silicon Valley, though, to start their companies in an area called Silicon Beach.

    On the west side of Los Angeles, people from around the world come for the beach, year-round sunshine and warm weather. This also is where Gregg Spiridellis and his brother operate the online comedy and e-card company, JibJab.  

    “We are two blocks from the beach. It’s 72 degrees [i.e., about 22 degrees Celsius] and sunny every single day,” said Spiridellis.

    Tech companies crop up

    Spiridellis moved his company 10 years ago from New York to the beach in Los Angeles, after the dot.com crash almost wiped out his company. The move gave new life to his business.

    “When we first moved out to L.A., there was no technology community. We did not move to Los Angeles for technology in 2002; we moved to artists for creative talent,” he said.

    About four years ago, new technology companies started popping up, especially around Los Angeles beach neighborhoods, says University of Southern California engineering professor Ashish Soni.

    “Definitely the unemployment and the economy in 2008-2009 did entice a lot of people to move from the traditional corporate path and to try and take a stab at their own venture,” said Soni.

    Since then, the number of start-up technology firms in the area has exploded, with a large majority of them based along a five-kilometer stretch between the beach neighborhoods of Santa Monica and Venice - an area some in the industry call “Silicon Beach.”

    Large pool talent available

    Many people in the local technology community, including Soni, say the beach lifestyle and mild weather are reasons they bypassed the Silicon Valley and choose to work in Silicon Beach.

    "It’s definitely becoming part of the everyday vernacular in the tech community here," said Soni.

    But JibJab's Spiridellis said he does not like the name Silicon Beach.
     
    "The only kind of silicon you see here on the beach is typically a part of someone’s body. I don’t really understand the need for a new brand," he said.

    Venture capital firm Rustic Canyon is based here in Santa Monica. Managing Partner Nate Redmond says the Los Angeles region is unique and should not be likened to Silicon Valley to the north.

    "While it’s understandable, I believe ultimately it doesn’t do justice or isn’t really fair to the entrepreneurs who are here building a community and building an ecosystem, which truly is much more native to the region and not an off-shoot from Silicon Valley per se," said Redmond.

    Location is key

    Entrepreneurs say another reason they prefer Silicon Beach over Silicon Valley is its proximity to Hollywood. Venice, where most of the special effects for movies are created, also is nearby.

    Brett O’Brien is founder and chief executive officer of the technology company Viddy, which developed an application that helps users capture, enhance and share video.

    “So the most talented production effects people in the world, from movie directors to cinematographers -- they're based here in Venice,” said O’Brien.

    Viddy has attracted 38 million users in a little more than a year. O'Brien says the celebrities who use Viddy and their fans have fueled the company's success.

    “There is certainly a benefit to having the access to influential users, famous talented people at every level. And for the types of businesses we create here in southern California, it’s a real competitive advantage,” said O’Brien.

    Growing trend gains momentum

    Rustic Canyon's Nate Redmond said people from around the world, including Silicon Valley, are coming to Los Angeles to work or start their own technology companies. He said that even venture capital firms in Silicon Valley are starting to take notice.

    “The dollars invested in early stage companies within the L.A. region in 2011 last year was higher than any of the prior 10 years,” said Redmond.

    Redmond said the most significant shift occurred 18 months ago, and it has accelerated since January. He said e-commerce firms also are drawing from the manufacturing industry in Los Angeles and the two major sea ports in the region. There also are engineers here who are creating online marketing and data analysis firms.

    Analysts say that although Silicon Valley continues to be a leader in high technology, they expect the industry to grow and mature in Los Angeles.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora