A Blow to the Boston VC Scene? Greylock Partners Moving HQ to Silicon Valley

Here’s a minor setback for the venture capital industry in Boston. Greylock Partners is relocating its headquarters from the Boston area—where it got started 44 years ago—to Silicon Valley, the firm announced this morning.

Does this mean that the Hub is losing its edge as a haven of entrepreneurial activity? That was the question raised in this piece today about the Greylock move in the New York Times tech blog Bits. At least for Greylock, Silicon Valley was a more appropriate place for its main office, because three quarters of the firm’s portfolio companies are on the West Coast, Greylock partner Bill Helman tells Bits.

(The Bits piece also points to Xconomy’s recent interview with Paul Graham, who revealed in January that Y Combinator will stay in Silicon Valley year round and no longer divide its startup incubation activities between Mountain View, CA, and Cambridge, MA.)

“Silicon Valley is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity in Greylock’s two key areas of focus: enterprise software and systems and consumer Internet,” David Sze, a Greylock partner in Silicon Valley, said in a statement.

Greylock says it plans to keep an outpost in Waltham, MA, and continue to invest in startups in the Boston area. But its back office, administrative functions, and planned growth will be at an office under construction in Menlo Park, CA. The firm began operating in Silicon Valley in the early 1980s and has an office in San Mateo, CA.

Greylock’s planned move may be another vote for social media activity in Silicon Valley. The firm’s portfolio of West Coast-based social media firms includes Facebook, LinkedIn, and Digg, to name just a few.

There’s no debating that Silicon Valley has a clear lead over Boston on the social media front, but Bob recently pointed out in his new column The X Factor that there are signs of viability in the social media ecosystem in and around the Hub.

[Update, May 19, 2009, 11:35 a.m.: Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe spoke with Greylock’s Bill Helman and has posted interview outtakes on his blog. “We have a responsibility to our limited partners,” he told Kirsner—meaning, presumably, a responsibility to be headquartered closer to the center of gravity of the firm’s portfolio companies.]

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