As someone who seriously considered (so much so, that I spent all of August in the Pacific Punch last year, if you do recall reading my daily diary entries) leaving the comfort zone of the the east coast and transplanting my not size “double 0″ butt in LA, I loved reading this POV from our own Kristin Martell.Â I had met Kristin years ago when she was a colleague in the NoVA tech world.Â Then we became social friends, as our professional lives ebbed and flowed.Â I lost touch with her for awhile, but when I learned she moved to LA almost two years ago, I was thrilled for her.Â As the Punch team began exploring our own entree into that market with the launch of Pacific Punch, Kristin and I reconnected, and I mean not just on Facebook, I mean in real life.
While working on her acting career, Kristin writes Damn the Odds with candor, hilarity, and a sweet humbleness, while spotlighting those who have courageously taken “a bad and made it a good”.Â Hey, life is nothing without making a bad a good (a few times over).
Take a gander at Kristin’s view on the emerging tech scene in the LA and let us know what you think, whether you live in the nation’s capital or the city of angels (From DC to LA: A Transplantâ€™s View on the Emerging Local Tech Scene):
“LA is undoubtedly the entertainment capital of the world and a powerful media market too, but technology? If you asked me a year and a half ago â€“ before I made the bi-coastal move â€“ I would have laughed and said â€œno way, Jose.â€ Not the case, my friends. Itâ€™s no secret LA has trailed behind most major US metropolitan areas in tech. Only recently has it been garnering national media attention for its burgeoning scene. Whatâ€™s happening here?
An influx of venture capital is flowing into the area (approx. $3.2 billion invested in SoCal startups in the last 12 months, according to a MoneyTree Report). Â New startup activity is high. This is partly due to the large number of accelerators and incubators being launched to mentor new startups.
There are pockets of activity all over SoCal. Venice and Santa Monica are now called â€˜Silicon Beach.â€™Â Hollywood, Downtown, Pasadena, Orange County and San Diego also are on the map as far as having a tech presence.
Itâ€™s not just geographically; there are niche communities/industries like e-commerce and content/media convergence.Â They remind me of icebergs â€” just breaching the surface and ready to rise in force.
Iâ€™m not going to compare-and-contrast LA to Silicon Valley, because thatâ€™s been done too many bloody times.Â Frankly, Iâ€™m sick of that discussion. I love LA for its unique differentiators.
As a recent transplant, here are some of my observations on how LA appears different from other tech markets.Â First, who am I to offer perspective? Â Although Iâ€™m no expert, I did spend 15 years in the industry. Starting my career in Boston â€“ a long-time tech hotbed fueled by the minicomputer boom that later held a strong position in enterprise software â€“ I then worked in another powerful tech center, Washington, DC.
Boston grew organically (thanks to giants like Digital Equipment Corporation and institutions like MIT).Â We donâ€™t have a Google or Microsoft here now. Itâ€™s important to have a major success story to attract world-class engineers and developers where the by-product is a stream of talent who venture off to start their own companies. But â€” LA has a number of amazing research institutions like Caltech and UCLA so whoâ€™s to say it wonâ€™t happen. Naysayers will argue the talent moves north after graduation.Â Whether from local universities or existing companies, itâ€™s critical that we keep a rich talent pool here in LA.
In my viewpoint, DCâ€™s tech transformation was different.Â While it had strong footholds in niche industries, there were powerful organizations with deep pockets working to establish DC as a top tech city.Â When I arrived (late 90â€™s), the Greater Washington Board of Trade was a force. Others like Northern Virginia Technology Council, Center of Innovation Technology, Tech Council of Maryland and many others joined the effort.Â Iâ€™m not familiar with a nonprofit in LA working to do this. Do you? Weâ€™d love to know about them.
Instead, itâ€™s coming from the community. There is an increasing number of companies, people, and initiatives that share the mission to make LA a global epicenter for technological innovation and entrepreneurialism. Â A great example to demonstrate LAâ€™s strong sense of community: the Silicon Beach Fest (SBF).” Â Â
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Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.