Bay Area Is Like Hollywood for Startups, Says Seattle Entrepreneur Who Moved to San Francisco

9/17/08Follow @gthuang

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been exploring the relationship between tech startups in Seattle and investors in the San Francisco Bay Area. We ran a story about what Seattle entrepreneurs can do to attract more attention from Bay Area VCs, and then a follow-up about whether there might be a brain drain of early-stage startups from Seattle heading south in search of funding. The pieces have generated some pretty spirited feedback.

One of the most provocative responses I got was from Shan Sinha, an MIT alum, former Microsoftie, and co-founder of DocVerse, a collaborative-document software firm originally based in the Seattle area. This summer, Sinha and fellow co-founder Alex DeNeui raised $1.3 million from Bay Area investors and relocated their company to San Francisco. Sinha has a very interesting take on Seattle versus San Francisco, for early-stage entrepreneurs. “After reading your article, most of the folks seemed to espouse a viewpoint that there is no advantage to being in the Bay Area and that starting a company and trying to raise money from Seattle is straightforward. There also seems to be a second thread through your anecdotes attempting to espouse that Seattle investors were plentiful and competitive,” he writes. “Our experience did not support either of those observations.”

For balance, I should point out that I recently spoke with data-visualization firm Tableau Software, which moved from the Bay Area to Seattle a few years ago because its founders wanted to live here. So it’s not like there’s an exodus of startups in one direction, or any big trend yet—these are just individual cases. (But I am curious to hear what others have to say, particularly those on the early-stage side of things.)

Sinha wrote, “We moved to the Bay Area for the same reason why people move to Hollywood to make movies. The Bay Area is for startups what Hollywood is for movies. Starting a company is hard enough, not being in the Bay Area is just introducing another hurdle in an already risky endeavor. Why not eliminate as much risk as possible? Any reasoning to justify not being in the Bay Area is a rationalization, in my opinion (often times valid… like “my family is rooted here”… but nonetheless a rationalization that must be overcome).”

He then fleshed out four concrete observations from his experience. The most interesting part to me is his discussion of meeting logistics—trying to build relationships and do deals from afar—as well as the idea that Bay Area VCs move faster and may be more willing to take risks. But I’ll let Sinha speak for himself:

— “Bay Area investors are made of a different ilk than anywhere else. In our experience Bay Area investors just moved at a different velocity. There were some exceptions…we did meet some amazing folks in Seattle … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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  • Andrew

    dont you think you should link to the original article than reblog the entire article?

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ghuang/ Gregory T. Huang

    Which “original article” are you referring to?

  • http://www.winshuttle.com Vikram

    A lot of the advantages mentioned here seem to revolve around fund-raising. There might be other advantages of the bay area too, e.g., availability of talent, number of potential enterprise customers or partners locally, weather(?), etc. Other advantages?

  • Marie Evans

    I found this article three years after the fact but it was interesting. I’d like to know how is he doing today? Did he find the financing he was looking for? Has he relocated to San Francisco and if so, when? How is his company doing?

    I’m a small flim production start-up and I wonder if this area would also be good for it.

    Marie