Posts for Tag: silicon valley

Where my East Bay tech entrepreneurs be at?

I may be biased because I live here but I don't know why more tech entrepreneurs don't view Oakland as a viable place to build their start-ups. It's centrally located, close to public transportation, and real estate (both commercial and residential) is less expensive than the usual start-up hotspots of San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Not to mention the fact that a lot of folks who work at tech start-ups live in the East Bay and have long commutes. I've done the East Bay to SF/SV commute before and it used to take me 45-90 minutes one way each day to get to work. Compare that to my current 10-15 minute ROUNDTRIP commute and it's a no brainer. What could you do with an extra 2-3 hours every day? Over the course of a work year (about 250 days), that's almost a full month you've wasted on the road.

Granted, Oakland has its fair share of issues. The one that usually comes up is that Oakland is perceived to be a crime-ridden city. Sure, there's crime here but like any large city there are areas where crime is high and others where it is not. I don't propose you bring your tech start-up and plop it down on Seminary and International just like I wouldn't make the Tenderloin or Hunters Point my company HQ. My first company was in what's now known as the Uptown area of Oakland, home to such little known start-ups like Pandora. We currently reside in the Jack London Square area which recently brought in Sungevity, a solar start-up.

Getting to the point of this post, I'm trying to cobble together some tech start-ups who are looking for office space in the Jack London Square area. The building we're in is newly renovated and very well maintained. We occupy a small suite but are getting to the point where we are considering more space. Conveniently, there is a larger suite across the hall that's been decked to the halls with all the latest goodies (professional cubes, CAT 6 cabling, etc). Only catch is that it's huge and much larger than we can take at this time. My grand idea is to have an informal tech cluster sharing this space. A few start-ups working in close proximity to each other, sharing ideas, mingling, etc. Plus we would offer the flexibility that a standard lease would not have - month to month, taking more space, taking less space. So if anyone out there is interested, drop me a line. Even if you're not interested, drop me a line anyway. I'm always glad to meet new entrepreneurs and share ideas.

Jack London Square quick visit

Took a walk down to Barnes and Noble in Jack London. Decided to snap a few pics along the way.

Here's a few shots of the area right outside of B&N.

Next took a walk down to check out the new Jack London Market. Last shot is of Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon near the base of the Jack London Market; an old school bar - 126 years old to be exact!

Here are some shots of the new Jack London Market itself. Still not yet open for business as the economy has derailed some of the tenants that were hoping to move in this summer. As such, final interior work has been greatly delayed as the landlords figure out who is going to occupy the lower market floors, as well as the upper office space. When we first were looking at office space a year ago, word was that office space would top $4 per square foot. Fast forward a year later, that number is down to about $3 but still no takers. One of the reasons is that they want to rent large blocks of space (25K minimum) instead of opening it up to smaller tenants. I give them another 3 months before that attitude and the price changes.

Exterior shots of the Northern side including shots from the top of the stairs.

Eastern side with the roll up doors for food vendors to bring in their goods.

The interior of the ground floor where all the small market vendors will be situated.

Shots of the Amtrak station and walking bridge across from the Eastern side.

Southern side of the building. Third shot is of an art piece done by Roger Stoller, a Silicon Valley product designer turned sculptor.

Western side of the building with a similar set of stairs to the Northern side.

Interior shots of the second floor. This is where the many restaurants and coffee shops will be. As you can see, very unfinished.

Yahoo's new CEO is ...... Carol Bartz!

AllThingsD is reporting that Carol Bartz (previously CEO of Autodesk) has accepted the Yahoo CEO position. Good move for her as there are only a handful of companies with iconic status in Silicon Valley (if not the country). It's interesting how CEOs tend to reflect the state of where a company is and will most likely go. When Koogle was CEO, he was basically brought in as the adult to mind the store the kids built. His tenure was marked by impressive growth but not really sure if he was the driving force behind that or more just the conductor of the train already on track to do what it was going to do. Next was Semel who was brought in because Yahoo no longer wanted to be a tech company but a mass media player with its hands in Hollywood, Madison Ave, etc. Yang's short tenure saw Yahoo try to get back to its tech roots, albeit with little or no success. What will the Bartz era bring? Probably sound management with a focus on maximizing profits and shareholder value. Whether that means trimming more fat or selling off a business unit for a pretty penny (perhaps Search to one S. Ballmer?), I'm not really sure. One thing that's certain is that Bartz is a very capable business manager, often compared to Mark Hurd over at HP. I hear he's done an ok job.
Of bigger concern to me is the fact that in a way, Yahoo was able to get an insider without getting an insider. In my opinion, the whole point of a new CEO was to inject new life into the company - get an outside perspective because the inside one was not working. Bartz has had a prior relationship with both Yang and Decker (sits on Cisco board with Yang, Intel board with Decker) and are good friends. Let's hope that their prior relationship doesn't prevent Bartz from doing what needs to be done.

Who would I bet on? Detroit or Silicon Valley?

The Business section of the site has an article about Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley electric car start-up backed primarily by Elon Musk and a list of other high profile investors (including the Google guys).  The article centers around Tesla's recent request for a low interest loan of $400 million from the US Government as part of a fund whose goal is to improve US automakers' fuel efficiency.  Randall Stross, the reporter who wrote the article, has a very clear message as it relates to Tesla.  His argument is that Tesla is not a truly viable company and that tax payers shouldn't pony up for what he amounts to a boutique automaker that caters to the rich.  Tesla is behind schedule on its delivery of the $100K+ Roadster and even farther behind schedule on its plans for the more affordable $60K Model S sedan.  However, the bigger question to me, as a tax payer, is whether I think the future of America's auto industry is in the Big Three US automakers or somewhere else... say Silicon Valley?

When our family immigrated to the US in the 70's, the first car we owned was an old Mustang.  After a short trist with a VW Beetle and VW Vanagan (they were cheap), we next owned a Buick Skylark Wagon and a Ford Taurus.  My first car was a Dodge Colt.  From the Taurus my parents went to a Nissan Sentra, then a Honda Accord, and finally a Toyota Camry and Corolla.  After my Dodge Colt (I totalled it, but that's another story), my wife and I inherited a Maxima and a Camry.  Our first new car purchase ever was a Toyota Prius.  I remember the pride my dad had in being able to buy the Taurus which was considered at the time to be one of the better quality cars available.  However, since those days of the 80's and early 90's, the quality of American made cars has slowly declined while that of foreign brands from Japan and Europe have continued to increase.  It wasn't necessarily for lack of features/power/design but more for lack of reliability that forced us to move away from American made cars to Japanese.  Today, American cars have the perception of unreliability, whether true or not.  Given the issues that the Big Three face, I don't have much confidence that they'll be able to turn that around nor keep up with innovative companies like Tesla to deliver us the next generation of automobiles.  For that reason, I choose to cast my vote with the new unknown than the old unreliable.

UPDATE:  Jason Calacanis writes a very good response to Randall Stross' article.  It's posted on the Huffington post.