Perspective, Pontification and Propoganda about Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital, brought to you by David Hornik of August Capital.

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Life in the valley integrates work, play, learning, and inspiration. Which is the way it should be. From Re-Creating the Corporation by Russell Ackoff:

"During the Renaissance, when everything, including life itself, was subjected to analysis, life itself was disassembled into what were considered fundamental but independent activities: work, play, learning, and inspiration.

"Institutions were created in which each activity could be carried out independently. Factories were designed for work, not play, learning, or inspiration. Theaters and arenas were designed for play, not work, learning, or inspiration. Schools were designed for learning, not work, play, or inspiration. Museums and churches were designed to provide inspiration, not for work, play, or learning.

"However, the transformation to systemic thinking has brought with it a growing awareness of the fact that the effectiveness with which any of these activities can be carried out depends on the extent to which they are integrated. Therefore, it has become apparent that a transformational leader must be able to integrate the various aspects of life in order to effectively pursue development. The transformational leader is one who can create an organization that reunifies life, who integrates work, play, learning, and inspiration."

Cory

Great post, David!

"I love the obsessiveness of the Bay Area. It is the drug that fuels the Bay Area's startup economy. And it is the drug that fuels my every day as a tech investor...I love the fact that I can have conference calls with my CEO's at 1am. I love the fact that wildly successful entrepreneurs who could retire for life dive into their next venture within six months of leaving their last. I love the fact that Palo Alto's newest yogurt shop is a hotbed of tech recruiting...Is it obsessive? You bet. Is it good for business? You bet."

The valley seems like an awesome place to live. I have dreams about living in the Bay Area. I am really look forward to experiencing this "feature" that no other city has for a week or two this summer.

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Great read. I'm still quite far from being there, but I can't wait to smell some of the air that fills Bay Area. Thank you for the wonderful post.

glenn_kelman

[From the author of the post David discusses]

Hi David, excellent essay, but as I pointed out earlier in a follow-up post (http://blog.redfin.com/blog/2008/02/rambo_meet_silicon_valley.html} and in a comment on Michael's post, I think Michael and now you are mostly inventing an argument with me when we agree.
For example, I agree with you wholeheartedly that the Valley's monomania is a feature not a bug. And I say as much in the essay in you dispute: the paragraph immediately preceding the one you cite describes desperately *hoping* to meet another Seattleite with a single-minded focus on building startups, not raising a family or having a balanced lifestyle.

What I like best about the Valley is its refusal to grow up and be reasonable. One reason we met was because I had heard of your willingness to take 1 a.m. telephone calls when the grown-up response would be to hang up and go back to sleep. You can say it was a blunder to refer to behavior like this as "pubescent" -- because that word is usually derogatory -- but the intent clearly wasn't to be derogatory. I was trying to be colorful about what I love about the Valley, just as you were when embracing the Valley's "monomania."

In a similar vein, I was not "badmouthing" Silicon Valley when I said the Valley is a "heartless amnesiac." I love the way the Valley reinvents itself, and discussed the phenomenon at length. The immediately preceding paragraph had recorded my dismay at constantly being asked where I went to high school rather than what I was doing next.

If there was any doubt that I approved of the Valley's monomania and self-cannibalization it would be dispelled in the paragraph immediately following my discussion of these two traits, in which I say "this is not to say that Seattle is all bad for entrepreneurs, only that the ways in which it is good only show how different it is compared to Silicon Valley."

Here is perhaps where we still disagree, that Seattle also has some advantages of its own. While I have made it clear that Silicon Valley's advantages are "massive" and that "Silicon Valley is generally better for startups than anywhere else, that doesn't mean that we have to agree... that Silicon Valley is always better, or better in every way."

The two benefits of Seattle that I outline are its nurturing climate, which has helped me find my way as a first-time CEO, and its openness to combining new and old business models, which we have experienced firsthand when building Redfin.

You say I didn't cite "a single concrete example" to support my notion of Seattle's advantages, when really that example was Redfin. It is the nature of Redfin's blog to focus mostly on our personal experiences, and I concede that it is a weakness of the essay to draw board conclusions from those experiences. I was trying to describe what I have missed about Silicon Valley, but also what I have found to appreciate about Seattle.

Next time, I will write more clearly in praising or criticizing the Valley, particularly since my perspective is now resented as that of an outsider (Redfin has a large San Francisco office which I work out of twice a month), but I don't think the problem was that I wasn't "thoughtful." The essay took me weeks to write because I had such strong feelings for the Valley I left behind, and it has been such an emotional journey to appreciate Seattle for what it offers that is different and, I still hope, advantageous.

Regards, Glenn

davidhornik

Glenn --

Thanks so much for not just saying "read my post, you idiot." I clearly keyed on only the provocative words. I too hope that my post isn't misread. I think that there are a pile of like-minded folks up in Seattle who are sufficiently obsessive and optimistic to make great entrepreneurs. You and Redfin are excellent examples of that. As are the folks at Inrix, one of our portfolio companies up your way (and iLike and Zillow and Farecast...). I think that there are pockets of entrepreneurial zeal throughout the country, with greater or lesser degrees of concentration. I look forward to meeting with many more great Seattle entrepreneurs in the years to come and hope you'll come back again if you're ever raising more money.

DAVID

https://me.yahoo.com/a/CfSV_lkAw4ZCmIL2ya6fnn.8Kw5EsBmX#e2482

Great post!
I recall my first week in the bay area way back in '94 - three pre-office breakfast get togethers with startups, including one on sunday, meeting a bunch of tech junkies while playing ultimate frisbee in Berkeley, and seeing at least a half dozen 'garage companies' working on the Newton, Java, or Mozilla based technologies.
After that one week, I knew I had to be there!
Hopefully, I'll make my way back there soon!

Rahim

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