Ideas on paper

Thoughts by José Luis Agell

SOMA, a good place to establish your company

At the beginning of Innovalley‘s life-time, when we were just shaping a dream, we considered Palo Alto and San Francisco as possible locations for our first office. Both offered advantages and disadvantages.

According to Crunchbase,Downtown Palo Alto gathers around 240 startups and it’s very close to Sand Hill Road, where most VCs are located. However we didn’t find affordable places at that time.

So we decided to explore San Francisco. Given that Xavi lives in Palo Alto and had to take the Caltrain to go to the city, we looked for an office space in SoMa (South of Market). And we were very lucky to find the building where we are, on the 350 Townsend st. The building used to be a paint factory and it’s currently occupied by thirty companies. It’s not the most glamorous space but it’s perfect for an early-stage company.

South of Market is a huge district (from the Embarcadero to Eleventh Street, between Market and Townsend Street). The neighborhood is a patchwork of warehouses, nightspots, condos, art spaces, loft apartments,  fancy restaurants and furniture showrooms. I knew that some startups where located in the neighborhood (like Twitter or SixApart) but I wasn’t expecting such a huge concentration of entrepreneurs and technology startups. I notice them when we are going for lunch, because the cafeterias and bars are full of young people talking business.

I just learned that Blogger was born in our building 10 years ago. Even Techcrunch, probably the most read technology blog, left Palo Alto 10 days ago and moved to 410 Townsend st. Let’s see if, being so close, we get inspired by them! 🙂

Steve Blank, who teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford and studies the history of Silicon Valley, said it may be time to think of two valley cultures: a social Silicon Valley on the Palo Alto-San Francisco axis where entrepreneurs are finding ways to fit technology to social needs, leisure and personal relationships, and a traditional Silicon Valley in southern Santa Clara County, where companies are more focused on technology, like software algorithms and electronic hardware.

So seems that SoMa is becoming a startup hub, especially for young entrepreneurs who want to be outside the married-with-kids suburban lifestyle.

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