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Silicon Valley is Dead -- Long Live Silicon Valley

Having done two long stints in Silicon Valley over the years, but having left just before the bubble burst, it has been interesting to return on an irregular basis and watch its post-bubble evolution.

It's easy to look at the Valley and conclude that, compared to its former self, it's now a ghost town. Millions of square feet of office space sit empty. Once-popular restaurants have closed, while others are scraping by on a fraction of their former traffic. Good people with solid resumes are going six, twelve, even eighteen months without finding a steady job. Even some of the venture capitalists say, "You don't want to take money from us now." It's sad in any case, and even a bit shocking if you haven't been immersed in it.

But there is another Silicon Valley rising from the ashes -- a new generation of companies starting and growing up, born out of bad times. These companies are the seedlings poking through the ashes of a devastating fire. When the fire is a memory, they'll be the tallest trees in the new forest.

Generalizations are difficult and dangerous, but with that said...

These new companies are used to doing more with less. Everything is done on the cheap. Everything is optional, even office space. They're not trying to attract eyeballs that might be monetizable someday; they're building services which will attract revenue now. Sponsor-based revenue models are out: if the end-users themselves won't pay for a service, they won't build it. They're avoiding venture capital as long as possible; every day they put it off means more control, more equity, and most of all more freedom. And they're working. They're making money.

Heard from an entrepreneur friend yesterday: "This is the best possible time to be starting a company in the Valley."

So Silicon Valley is dead. Long live Silicon Valley.


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