While out and about…
Over the last week I’ve been out in the bay area meeting with an important client talking about their needs and how we’re going to make things better for them and for us, all in all a good trip (apart from the plane crash). This was my first time to the bay area and it seems like a nice enough place, it lives up to expectations in some areas and not others, I’m sure with more local knowledge it’s possible to overcome some of the issues I had with the area. The main issue I could see (granted it was only a week) is that it’s not as nice to live there as it is in the UK or even as nice to be around and in like London.
In London, everything is a walk away or a short tube journey, and better yet if you’re willing to travel more than an hour each way each day you can live in the countryside and just commute in; but in the valley everything is a short car journey away, the public transport seems a bit hit and miss and Taxi’s aren’t cheap!
I think its things like this which will be the end of the bay area over the next 10 years unless it changes, and I’m not the only one to think this and as time moves on I think we’ll see a shift in tech start-ups away from silicon valley into areas that are nicer to live.
Which is what brings me back to London, there’s a good start-up culture, there’s more investment going on and there’s some good companies starting to appear, unfortunately for tech startups the UK still isn’t brilliant, but it will get there in time and it probably just needs a few more years and some brave people to trail blaze.
I think London has the makings of a nice tech hub for Europe and will over the next few years start exceeding the bay area, the only thing it’s really missing at the moment is the massive success stories that appear in the bay area every few years, sure there’s some good companies but none are a apple, google or facebook.
I think I could survive out there to live for a while but not forever, it’s nice being able to go to the beach, forrest, mountains what ever you want all within a reasonable drive but there’s too much convenience stuff, like fast food, corner shops and drive throughs. Like Walmart, it’s got a purpose but not for me, Trader Joes seemed better, but no soft drinks just fresh goods and booze… Maybe in time I would have found stuff that felt a little more “me” and a little less American but I’d have to go and give it a go to find out!
For me personally I don’t really want to live in London, it’s just too busy but living out in Hampshire makes London an awkward commute, do able but not every day. As time goes on I’m still hopefully that more start ups will start offering flexible working like we have at Alfresco where going in for 2-3 days a week is the norm and everyone is trusted to do the work, and who knows over the next 10 years maybe more will start filling the M3/M4 corridor which will make living in a nice place and commuting to a nice tech company is all possible.
It will certainly be interesting over the next few years how the tech industry in the UK changes but I’m certain it’s picking up speed.