Giants don’t move often, usually spending most of their time sleeping, growing forests on their backs, and staying in the same spot, thereby avoiding any disruption to the local lands. However, when a giant does decide to get up and move, no matter how nimble it tries to be, the steps taken create tidal wave impacts, not to mention throwing a few farms’ worth of sheep in the air by surprise. The same happened in Silicon Beach when Google decided to set up shop in January this year with a 100,000 sq foot presence in the Frank Gehry Binocular building. And it was not just one big business making rumblings, Facebook as signaled a pending move to the region as well, setting up their own proverbial tent soon. Which leaves Silicon Beach in the presence of big business.
Clearly, the abundance of startup activity in the area is getting people’s notice, especially the noses of big players as well as investors. Sparqlight is one example, working towards providing a social workflow product that aims to eliminate redundancy and help people spend more of their time being productive at work. Promojam represents another venture, providing tools for website designers and businesses to create social media promotion and marketing campaign apps without being an uber-coding wizard. Big company names like Red Bull and Virgin Airlines have already incorporated Promojam’s tools within their own marketing efforts, validating the early acceptance of its benefits for customers.
Then again, there are some startups that are creating products we wish were available 10 years ago or more because they just make so much common sense. One example representing the ingenuity of the obvious in Silicon Beach is ParkMe. The startup behind the app essentially took what people already want and created a smart digital app to make it happen. That want, namely knowing where to find a vacant parking spot when driving around, is the essence of ParkMe. The tool makes so much sense and covers 500 cities already that the company has now attracted a third investor, Angeleno Group, to make it more of a success.
The above said, however, giants generally tend to cause immediate reaction of fear across the landscape when their large silhouettes are seen interrupting the horizon and getting closer. Most people pack up the sheep and chickens and either disperse to avoid being stepped on or hide behind closed shutters to avoid notice and being eaten. Some in Silicon Beach are reacting similar in a proverbial sense. The idea that big corporation X is moving into town is being seen as the end of the “coolness” or a fun era of young startup energy to now be dampened by corporate acquisition and bureaucracy. If nothing else, all the corporate big word lingo that starts appearing at the coffee houses irritates people as well.
No one should fool themselves with idealism; Google and Facebook and others are looking for tools to buy to add to their own capacity. And many a startup has already been built up only to sell off for a hundred million or so, closing their own chapters in Silicon Beach and moving on. But is it really the beginning of the end of Silicon Beach when the giants move in? Not automatically.
For example, the University of Southern California continues to be an incubator for Silicon Beach and other startup communities in Southern California, adding to its success roster of over 500 dream stories made reality. It’s now aiming to produce the largest technology company in the Los Angeles region, not just for laurels, but to directly impact and boost the job creation base in the area for improved economic growth. It’s the kind of thing a person wishes our government agencies and big businesses would get involved in, returning opportunity to communities. And maybe they are with the recent presence of giants on the beach line.