AirTalk®

Lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, entertainment, the arts, and more. Hosted by Larry Mantle

The state of Silicon Beach and tech in Los Angeles (#AT30)

by AirTalk®

Bill Youngblood/KPCC

Silicon Valley is the nation’s undisputed tech innovation leader. And other cities from New York to Seattle are nipping at its heels.

Los Angeles has been working to cultivate its own homegrown tech hub in the form of Silicon Beach, an area that encompasses Culver City to Santa Monica that has seen an explosion of  new startups and venture capital activities.

For May’s AT30 event, Larry Mantle and his guests will look at Silicon Beach and tech in Los Angeles. How is the industry now and where is it heading? Are issues facing the high tech industry in Northern California – a lack of gender and ethnic balance, for instance – affecting Silicon Beach? Would Los Angeles’ tech hub ever be able to rival that of its Northern neighbor’s?

Panel highlights:

On the cultural differences between Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach:

“Because we are just starting out as a community, we are not as combative as San Francisco. It’s much more collaborative.”  – Scott Perry, Founder, LA Tech Digest

“Silicon Valley is much more insular. When VCs look at funding in the Valley, they don’t look at outsourcing, they want everybody to be in house. Angelenos are a little more flexible, in terms of where funding comes from, where talents come from.” – Chad Dupue, Chief Technology Officer, Whisper

On how Silicon Beach has changed in the last few years:

“In the last few years, things have felt different. You can attribute that the whole ecosystem, from the amount of capital flowing in the system, to the amount of exits, and not just acquisition exits…. The things we didn’t have in the past and that we’re starting to have now are IPOs and permanent companies: Snapchat saying ‘no’ to acquisition offers and discussing going public, and TrueCar going public this year.” – Kara Nortman, Partner, Upfront Ventures

On things you might not know about tech and Los Angeles:

“We in Southern California graduate more engineering students than any other city in the country. About 11,000.” – Kara Nortman, Partner, Upfront Ventures

On challenges facing Silicon Beach:

“Silicon Valley is an engineer-centric economy, whereas LA, with the history of Hollywood, is more of a creative economy. [While] L.A. does graduate the most engineers in a year, we are not in the top 30 in terms of density. Density matters in building a startup culture… We’d love to see even more growth in L.A. is more technical founders who are building companies right here in Los Angeles.” – Ashish Sony, Founding Director, the Viterbi Student Institute for Innovation(VSi2) at USC

“Recruiting is the biggest challenge. There isn’t enough people here, or anywhere in tech right now. That’s an ongoing challenge." – Chad Depue, CTO, Whisper

“The biggest impediment for early-stage companies is still funding. Capital comes down and is here when there’s data, but before the numbers prove out this is a great company, that risk capital, the earliest stage in capital, is still harder to raise, and to raise it in as in as large quantities in Silicon Valley.”  – Kara Nortman, Partner, Upfront Ventures

On impact on surrounding neighborhoods:

“We are based down on Abbot Kinney now. And the property we are in is going through a lot of change. Snapchat has just acquired a lease of the property for the next 10 years and with that, it’s displacing about 40 companies. I’m a little bit torn. We are venture-backed. We’re a tech company, we’ve been in that space for about 7 years in total. On the one hand, you want to see the growth and development, you’re definitely proud to see the growth and development in [Snapchat], but at the same time, having been now in the community for such a long time, you start to get concerned about the impact of the community, too. I think that when you look at all of the changes going on and we can all the changes they’re having in San Francisco and all the issues they are having up there, how do you think the good of what’s going on and try to minimize the negative impact.” – James Briggs, CEO,  Briabe Mobile

 “For the folks that are going to be in Playa Vista, that are going to work in Playa Vista and live there, there are going to be a lot of rental properties coming on the market in the Playa del Rey, Playa Vista and Westchester area, because there are a lot of new development. To the extent that people are able to make that work and work and live in that community, they are going to be the winners…. I think that the new thinking of a community with all the amenities all close together is fantastic. But for the rest of us, where the neighborhood is built in the ‘40s, it’s very different. It’s going to be massive growing pains for Los Angeles to become anything other than what it is today: a bunch of people in cars.” – Cyndi Hench, President, the Westchester / Playa Neighborhood Council

Guests:

James BriggsCEO of Briabe Mobile

Tracy Thrower ConyersFounder, Silicon Beach Properties at Coldwell Banker

Chad DePue, Chief Technology Officer, Whisper

Cyndi Hench, President, Neighborhood Council of Westchester / Playa Vista / Playa Del Rey

Kara Nortman ,Partner, Upfront Ventures

Scott Perry, Founder, LA Tech Digest

Ashish SoniFounding Director of the Viterbi Student Institute for Innovation(VSi2) at the University of Southern California

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