And, you may have heard of Silicon Alley (NYC),
or Silicon Hills (Austin).
But, have you heard of Silicon Beach?
If you haven’t yet, you probably will soon. It’s the informal moniker that’s been given to a narrow strip of land along the southern California coast where a new start-up community has emerged in the past couple of years stretching from Santa Monica to Venice and beyond.
As tech developers from Silicon Valley and content creators from Hollywood find themselves ever more intertwined, each an ingredient of the variegated amalgam that has become the stew of digital entertainment, it’s only natural that a physical cauldron would eventually emerge where like-minded people can get together and percolate ideas: techies, artsy types, VCs, students, hacker spaces, celebs, incubators, digital production studios, gamers, talent agencies, angel investors, ad agencies, accelerators, digital filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and studio execs alike.
Voila: Silicon Beach.
A recent look at the crowd-sourced Represent.La map revealed 744 start-ups in southern California, 16 accelerators, 30 incubators, 34 co-working spaces, 56 investors, 137 consulting firms, 8 hackerspaces, and 11 events.
According to Adweek (T.L. Stanley, June 6, 2013),
“Google, Snapchat, Hulu, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s Beats Electronics, business incubators like Amplify and hundreds of emerging technology firms now populate the area. They’re shoulder to shoulder with an eclectic mix of youth hostels, pot dispensaries, bong shops, hot new restaurants and fashion-forward boutiques …
Among the moving pieces: an explosion of angel investors and a steady stream of talent coming from USC, UCLA, and other local schools that now foster entrepreneurship.”
The first Silicon Beach Fest was held in southern California in June 2012, a sure sign that the place had arrived, followed by a second fest in June 2013. The Fest’s promotional materials described Silicon Beach as,
“… the nickname for LA’s burgeoning startup scene, which has attracted worldwide attention. LA was ranked the #2 startup city (after Silicon Valley) in the U.S., in the Startup Genome’s Startup Ecosystem world report.”
Start-ups are popping up everywhere. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Institute (June 17, 2013):
“In 2012 over $3.2 billion was invested in Southern California start-ups with 220 new companies launching in Los Angeles. At least 100 companies secured funding of at least $1 million, and 43 were acquired.”
For the most part, Silicon Beach initiatives have been focused on e-commerce, online video, celebs, gaming, and fashion. A short list includes (Business Insider, Shontell and Huspeni, July 12, 2012):
(1) Maker Studios, Marina del Rey, raised $4 million – network of YouTube channels
(2) Game Salad, Santa Monica, raised $7.1 million – publish and distribute mobile games
(3) Burstly, Pacific Palisades, raised $7.3 million – mobile ad management tool for app developers
(4) Chill, Los Angeles, raised $8 million – discover videos online
(5) The Honest Company, Santa Monica, raised $27 million – ships safe baby supplies
(6) Machinima, Los Angeles, raised $49.6 million – gamer network online
(7) Shoe Dazzle, Los Angeles, raised $60 million – subscription service, shoes picked by celebs
(8) BeachMint, Santa Monica, raised $73.5 milion – find products recommended by celebs
Silicon Beach is not just sprouting start-ups. Some of the biggest tech players from up north have also set up shop in southern California. Google has an outpost in Venice not far from the beach. It’s a three-building facility, including the famed Binocular building designed by Frank Gehry, with all the amenities of the Googleplex in Silicon Valley: free food, gym, massages, etc., but with the added benefit of nearby sun, sand, and surfing added to the mix.
YouTube established a YouTube Space in Playa Vista not long ago, a site for digital production and community activities located in an airport hangar built by Howard Hughes in 1950.
There is no question that Silicon Beach is happening. But, will it really be just another Silicon Valley?
According to Lori Kozlowski (Forbes),
“… Likely not. And that’s good. It doesn’t need to be. It’s a larger place with different talents … Instead — like always — it’ll become it’s own thing. A place where creative capital is a plentiful resource, a place where artists of all stripes are the foundational groundwork and the legacy.”