There have been a number of articles lately about LA tech going down the ever-unproductive East side vs. West side, real-tech vs. non-tech path. See exhibit 1 and exhibit 2. These are also in part a comparison of LA vs. Silicon Valley/SF, etc.
I am very skeptical of these arguments. In general, there’s a self-perception that whatever you might be working on is real, hardcore tech. This continues to have folks think that they are solving “real problems.” I think that if you’re not doing one of the following things you’re probably not solving a “real” problem:
- Clean Water
- Clean Food
- Renewable Energy
- Other diseases, etc.
Let’s all get over ourselves. If we’re in software tech, we’re probably building cool shit that can be meaningful, but doesn’t save the world. Going to space…maybe. Using lots of data for an ad network…definitely not.
The bigger picture though is to ask our selves why we’re arguing and what the point is? I think this happens because what started out as high-technology venture capital in Silicon Valley decades ago with semi-conductor manufacturing (which solves real problems, by enabling cancer research, etc.) has mutated into just startup funding with software as an enabler. Ad networks and subscription e-commerce and online media all use technology. But in many cases, they are marketing or retail companies, with a software backbone. That is different than a core technology company, which is again different than biotech, medical research, etc.
So with the bloom in growth of lower tech businesses, people feel like they have to compete or justify. The point isn’t how hard core your technology is (although I am sure I succumb to this bragging/arguing, too). The point is: can you build a product, find a market and build a business that grows and is sustainable. Sector/field/tech chops is less important in bragging rights. Unless you’re saving people from real-world problems like cancer, of course. Then my hats off to you. That is way more important than whatever I do all day.