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Is Phoenix the Next Silicon Valley? 555

Posted by Soulskill
from the silicon-valley-could-probably-hold-onto-a-hockey-team dept.
SpicyBrownMustard writes "There's no secret to a rising level of 'Silicon Valley fatigue' lately, and the new reality show certainly isn't helping. And with hacker hostels packing in twenty somethings fueling the 'it's okay to fail' incubator culture that now is actually hurting startups, it's no wonder weariness with the culture is setting in. Forbes.com asks the question: Is Phoenix The Next Silicon Valley? The article covers a startup with a couple names you might know, who picked Phoenix due to its much lower cost of living and different quality of life. The startup's CTO, 'explains that having so much more financial freedom lowers the stress associated with working for a startup, as he can enjoy work/live balance.' Their location certainly didn't hurt fundraising, as they managed $2 million in seed capital. Are we indeed moving on from Silicon Valley for tech startups?"
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Is Phoenix the Next Silicon Valley?

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  • LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:39PM (#40833891)

    Phoenix ?!? Has anyone ever been there?
    This is pure long-shot PR from someone with real estate interests..

    • Re:LOL (Score:4, Funny)

      by BorisSkratchunkov (642046) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:48PM (#40834039) Journal
      Maybe it'll be re-born!
      • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @09:21PM (#40837297) Journal

        I've been in this field for a long-long time

        I was in the Silicon Valley when the thing got started and I benefited handsomely

        IMHO, the "Silicon Valley Phenomenon" is a one-time happening

        It happened because of many factors

        * The concentration of critical mass of coherent talents - mostly comprised of remnants of the hippies with their Groovy mindset, and earlier batch of the baby boomers who were, in one way or another, influenced by the hippies culture

        * It occurred at a time when the "change culture" finally arrived at the tech scene - with hobbyists earnestly believed that they could build their own gadgets with solders and breadboards

        * And the Silicon Valley happened to provide a venue, the place, for the talents to gather and trade their ideas

        We also need to understand that the Silicon Valley phenomenon occurred way before Internet - which means, people _still_ had to congregate in ONE PHYSICAL PLACE in order to trade ideas

        With Internet, people no longer need to gather physically in one place in order to trade ideas

        There have been many attempts in repeating the "Silicon Valley Success" all over the world - from Boston USA to East London, UK to Japan to even third world countries such as Malaysia, but none ever achieve same level of success as Silicon Valley

        Why?

        Simply because there is no need for yet-another Silicon Valley

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but they didn't return after being seared to a golden brown.

      Kansas City should be the next Silicon Valley.
      Google Fiber could support it.

    • by SomePgmr (2021234)

      A year or two ago they were saying Chicago, referencing GroupOn and others. Lately I've heard Austin, Texas a couple times.

      This is the first time I've heard Phoenix, though I admit I don't pay close attention to the whole, "where's the next silicon valley" thing.

      • Re:LOL (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:24PM (#40835377)

        The factors that are always cited in Silicon Valley's success are things like cultural openness, strong public schools and exceptional universities, mild weather, cultural acceptance of taking risks and failing, local venture capital, etc. Phoenix fails on pretty much all counts. Austin has a couple going for it, but is surrounded by Texas. Kansas City is pretty unlikely (Maybe Lawrence KS has a chance though...?). New York will never create that culture, but it will always be a finance/fashion mecca.

        It is interesting to look at the things that made Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, and New Orleans hubs in their day by comparison.

    • by MarioMax (907837)

      Phoenix ?!? Has anyone ever been there?
      This is pure long-shot PR from someone with real estate interests..

      Born and raised, thank you very much.

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        Intel is moving some infrastructure to Mesa or Gilbert or somewhere.
        Tech industry is heavy in the Gilbert area. I have seen a few biofuel start ups, a few medical start ups, and a few tech startups in this area as well.
        But, as far as the question of the article, the answer is no.
      • And as one native to another, can you really see this happening? I mean, seriously: attempting to replace Standford with ASU? Getting people to choose Maricopa over the Bay Area? GMAFB.
    • by rickb928 (945187)

      I've lived here for 6+ years. Stay away. It's too hot, and too miserable, and the houses are too expensive when people like you come around and start buying them up.

      Try Oregon instead, eh?

    • Well, it's the fifth-largest city in the USA. Apparently, someone has not only been there but is still there.
    • by slew (2918)

      Phoenix ?!? Has anyone ever been there?
      This is pure long-shot PR from someone with real estate interests..

      Intel has had facilities in Chandler, AZ pretty much forever (since 1979)...

      Even though Chandler is only 25 miles from Phoenix, that presence didn't help it become the next silicon valley in 1990 boom, so what is different today (except the real-estate bust)? Yeah... real-estate interests ;^)

    • Why would anyone want to be in the same state as Arpaio, let alone 30 miles away? Don't they know how that works? That area is full of crazies.

    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xevioso (598654) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:09PM (#40835187)

      I can tell you where the next Silicon Vally is, and you folks down there in promoting Phoenix won't want to hear it:
      San Francisco.

      Not only are people not wanting to move out of California, they are moving to the only place even more expensive than Silicon Vally, which is good old San Francisco.

      http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/San-Francisco-office-sales-booming-3750956.php [sfgate.com]

      The reason is because the talent is here, and the talent WANTS to come here. Young 20-somethings who are generally creative and technology-oriented don't want to move to Phoenix because 1) It's too hot and 2) It's too conservative.

      Sorry SV wannabees...San Francisco is the place to be.

    • Re:LOL (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:39PM (#40835571)

      I live in Phoenix (actually Tempe, right next door). I've lived here since 2000, so I think I know something about it.

      This town is a dump. The idea that hordes of techies and young people are going to want to move here to suffer through 115-degree weather is just idiotic. There is no culture here, very few decent places to eat, and the place is full of meth-heads and illegals. It's been rated by several places as the worst city in America to drive in, mainly because it's so chaotic and because there's no consistent driving style (the frequent road-rage shootings don't help). The local economy is shit, and violent home invasions are common. There is some tech industry, both in the north of the metro area and the southeast part, with Intel and Microchip having substation presences, along with some shitty defense contractors like General Dynamics where engineers go to die. The weather is horrible; it wasn't that bad 12 years ago, but it's gotten hotter, and stays hotter for longer now. You can't bicycle here (one of my favorite outdoor activities) because of the heat most of the year, and also because of the dangerous speeding drivers and lack of safe bike paths. And there's really nothing to do here except for walking around the mall. Even worse, they're trying to phase out the indoor air-conditioned malls in favor of these stupid outdoor malls; who the hell wants to walk around in 115 degree heat to shop? They're nice for about 3 months in the winter, and that's it. They used to have Mill Avenue in Tempe that was kinda fun to walk along, which used to have a bunch of quirky little independent shops, but the Tempe government drove all those out of business to make room for a bunch of mall stores and high-rises, which of course went south when the economy crashed, so most of the place is boarded up now.

      This place sucks, and I can't wait to move out in a couple of months. If a bunch of startups do move here, it's going to be short-lived because cool, hip, young employees aren't going to stick around this cesspool for long.

      • Re:LOL (Score:5, Informative)

        by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @07:30PM (#40836565)

        There's a lot of drivel there that doesn't deserve comment ("very few decent places to eat"? are you old or broke?), but this is ridiculous:

        It's been rated by several places as the worst city in America to drive in, mainly because it's so chaotic and because there's no consistent driving style (the frequent road-rage shootings don't help).

        What's the problem, does the square NS-EW street grid confuse you? You're going to need to back up that claim, because Phoenix is nowhere near the worst cities to drive in:

        http://fillmyemptyblogspace.com/2010/12/24/10-worst-american-cities-to-drive-in/ [fillmyemptyblogspace.com]
        http://www.businessinsider.com/cities-with-most-car-crashes-2010-10?op=1 [businessinsider.com]
        http://autos.yahoo.com/news/15-dangerous-cities-for-driving.html [yahoo.com]
        http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/05/22/going-nowhere-10-worst-u-s-cities-for-traffic/ [time.com]

        In fact, if you look closely, you can see Chandler listed by Allstate as one of the safest cities to drive in.

        violent home invasions are common

        Define "common". The police claimed that for 2008 there were "over 300" home invasions and kidnappings (fewer than 1 per day, in an area with 4.2 million people), and that claim was investigated by the feds to see if it was exaggerated to get more funding:

        http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2011/01/26/20110126phoenix-crime-stats-federal-audit.html [azcentral.com]

        You can't bicycle here (one of my favorite outdoor activities) because of the heat most of the year

        People bike here year round, Facebook posts from other people doing just that are proof. You choose not to, that doesn't mean other people don't do it also. There are people enjoying the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, Dreamy Draw, and South Mountain year round.

        They used to have Mill Avenue in Tempe that was kinda fun to walk along, which used to have a bunch of quirky little independent shops, but the Tempe government drove all those out of business to make room for a bunch of mall stores and high-rises, which of course went south when the economy crashed, so most of the place is boarded up now.

        Really? The main recreational area next to the largest university by enrollment in the country is boarded up now, huh? That's weird. [google.com]

        This place sucks, and I can't wait to move out in a couple of months.

        Neither can I. Let me know if you need help leaving.

        • Re:LOL (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tooyoung (853621) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:23AM (#40838673)
          I can only imagine that the people who modded the parent up have never been to Phoenix and assumed that the counter arguments listed were valid. As someone who has lived there, allow me to clarify:

          It is over 100 degrees for a significant amount of the year. If you go for a walk at night, it is still in the high 90s. Phoenix is the 6th largest city in the US, and is located in the middle of the desert. It has no semi-cool counter culture like nearby Tucson. It is just massive sprawl. Yes, it has great Mexican food, and 3 months of the winter are awesome, but the idea of people flocking there for hot tech jobs is insane.

          Would you raise your children in a city where the only place you see grass is golf courses and cemeteries? Would you jump to move to a city with no distinctive downtown, but rather 4 million people living in uncontrolled desert sprawl, completely devastated by the housing crash? And, yes, in Phoenix, it was a crash - houses thrown up with the cheapest materials and labor, doubling in price after only 5 years, only to be devastated by the realization that the owners paid for a tiny lot in a 4 million person desert sprawl, with the closest attraction being Las Vegas?
  • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:40PM (#40833897) Journal

    You can dispense with wafer ovens altogether... just put your silicon outside in the parking lot...

  • No. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:41PM (#40833905)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_Headlines

    • Someone please mod this guy up, he has been consistently saving me time replying to pointless waste of time threads recently
  • Arizona? No Thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@ubermMONET00.net minus painter> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:41PM (#40833921) Homepage Journal

    Is Phoenix The Next Silicon Valley?

    Dear God, I hope not. In the current political climate, as an immigrant, I am avoiding Arizona entirely unless it's absolutely required.

    • by mythosaz (572040)
      The portrait that the national media likes to paint of Arizona is fairly inaccurate - especially when it comes to the people working in technology.

      It's an outdated, overplayed stereotype. Idiot local politicians on the right like to rattle their sabers to garner press. Truth be told, the state is about as balanced with its share of both "normal" people and nutjobs on both sides of the aisle.

      My IT architecture team is a snapshot of diversity.

      The IT arm of my (large) company is fairly representati
      • by Hatta (162192)

        The portrait that the national media likes to paint of Arizona is fairly inaccurate

        Two words: Joe Arpaio.

        • by mythosaz (572040) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @04:06PM (#40834359)
          Thanks for confirming my suspicion.

          Despite Joe's antics, he'll get elected again because his politics aren't what most of the voting populous of AZ cares about.

          Things like Tent City suck, and we like when our criminals get sent there.  We like that he deputizes people to track down deadbeat dads or keep gangbangers out of mall parking lots.  We like that he's a mean son of a bitch.  We want our stupid kids locked up and put in a chain-gang for the week when they get a drunk driving charge.

          We overlook the fact that he panders to the media on the right with birther nonsense, because he's not a position in our government where it matters.  [Hint, the MCSO doesn't determine presidential eligibility.]
          • by TheSpoom (715771)

            So you elect him because the issues on which he's speaking don't matter to you, but expect immigrants (i.e. people to whom issues like that matter immensely) to... what? Ignore it? Kind of difficult when you're being asked for your papers all the time...

          • Things like Tent City suck, and we like when our criminals get sent there. We like that he deputizes people to track down deadbeat dads or keep gangbangers out of mall parking lots. We like that he's a mean son of a bitch. We want our stupid kids locked up and put in a chain-gang for the week when they get a drunk driving charge.

            That someone would present these as the appealing, non-right-wing facets of Joe Arpaio says a lot.

            As long as they don't fail ongoing legal/constitutional scrutiny, it is the right of Joe's constituents to support these kinds of policies. Nevertheless, they are indeed why many people would not want to move to AZ.

          • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @04:42PM (#40834813) Journal

            Things like Tent City suck, and we like when our criminals get sent there.

            What about the innocent, but accused? You did know that the majority of Tent Citie's population are merely accused and awaiting trial, right?

            But I'm wasting my time. You're exactly the kind of authoritarian asshole that keeps any sort of sensible person out of Phoenix. I hope you get falsely accused of a crime in August.

      • by TheSpoom (715771)

        In no way am I suggesting that everyone in Arizona is like that; I happen to know a couple people who live there and they're great. Unfortunately, your politicians have set policies that I don't find attractive in the least, and the fact that they have done so, repeatedly, suggests that the tone there would not be welcoming.

        If you want to change your image, change your politicians. The problem seems to be that many Arizona natives like them.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      And the computer industry employs a lot of immigrants. If I were starting a new company, I'd think twice about locating in a state where a funny accent is likely to draw hassles.

      Responding to the AC who replied previously: this is not about enforcing the laws. This is about dimwitted politicos pandering to bigotry.

      • by swb (14022)

        In my experience (and I know the plural of experience is not data) with Arizona, some of the most strident negative opinions about immigrants were from people who were of obvious Hispanic heritage.

        Even the people you'd normally characterize as "conservative" (white, carry a handgun, etc) always struck me as more socially and interpersonally "liberal" -- ie, they weren't bible thumpers, most were OK with legalizing marijuana to stem the drug cartels and gangs, not hung up on the usual hard-ass conservative t

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:42PM (#40833937) Homepage

    I mean, I can think of a little company from Albuquerque that ended up doing pretty well for itself.

  • No, it isn't. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:42PM (#40833941) Homepage Journal

    For over a decade people keep saying "X" will be the next Silicon Valley. And they then go on and forget they made such ridiculous predictions and nobody every calls them on it.

    FYI The next Silicon Valley continues to be Silicon Valley, as it reinvents itself (and replacing itself with something even more inexplicable the next time.)

    So now you know. And you can quote me on it.

  • by Ryanrule (1657199) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:43PM (#40833951)

    I won't go.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:46PM (#40833993) Homepage Journal
    I thought the ubiquity of high-speed internet access almost everywhere eliminated the need for centering technological progress around a particular geography...

    Also, heat is bad for electronics, so why in the name of everything holy would tech startups want to base themselves in an area that regularly experiences triple-digit temperatures?
    • by Jeng (926980)

      I thought the ubiquity of high-speed internet access almost everywhere eliminated the need for centering technological progress around a particular geography...

      With a company there will be a physical location. You want that physical location to be where the talent is.

      Also, heat is bad for electronics, so why in the name of everything holy would tech startups want to base themselves in an area that regularly experiences triple-digit temperatures?

      You loose less days of productivity due to weather in high temperature areas vs snow areas.

      I've lived in a place that gets to -50 F in the winter and climbs to 110 F in the summer. Trust me, a day that is 110 is a lot better than a day that is -50.

      • I thought the ubiquity of high-speed internet access almost everywhere eliminated the need for centering technological progress around a particular geography...

        With a company there will be a physical location. You want that physical location to be where the talent is.

        So, in a country with a 360 million+ population, you're telling me there are zero talented people outside northern California? Somehow I find that difficult to fathom... probably because it's complete bullshit.

        Also, heat is bad for electronics, so why in the name of everything holy would tech startups want to base themselves in an area that regularly experiences triple-digit temperatures?

        You loose less days of productivity due to weather in high temperature areas vs snow areas.

        Protip: Want to be taken seriously? Make sure you spell and grammar check. FYI, It's spelled l-o-s-e, not l-o-o-s-e. / grammar Nazi rant

        I've lived in a place that gets to -50 F in the winter and climbs to 110 F in the summer. Trust me, a day that is 110 is a lot better than a day that is -50.

        Careful, I think I hear the Hyperbole Police coming, to drag you off to Exaggeration-traz...

        Seriously, though, you do realize there exist many, many temperate regi

    • by rickb928 (945187)

      Phoenix is blessed with abundant electrical suppies form several directions. If you want redundant power, it's here.

      Residential outages are always weather-related. Wind especially will cause problems. But for a data center, it's very good. and the risk of floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc is low. Building up a few feet removes the risk of even local monsoon flooding.

      A much safer environment than even rural Virginia.

  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @03:53PM (#40834137) Journal

    Betteridge's Law of Headlines applies.

  • It depends on how willing the state and local governments are to creating a culture of startups, especially technically-minded ones. When Gary Johnson was governor of New Mexico, he signed an initiative to entice film producers to move there with lucrative tax rebates that rivaled other states. Since Martinez has taken office, she's done much to dismantle what Richardson and Johnson built. I'm on a listserv with many New Mexico producers and directors that have watched and acted against her backward acti
  • Yup. It's different alright. It was a concrete jungle almost indistinguishable from LA.
  • by tool462 (677306) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @04:00PM (#40834235)

    I'm an electrical engineer in Phoenix who is actively trying to leave. You pretty much have Intel, Honeywell, and Freescale (ha!) on a large scale, a bunch of other companies with satellite offices locally, and some smaller startup types. From the inside, it certainly doesn't feel special relative to any other large city, and there still is nowhere near the density of tech companies that Silicon Valley has. Could it get there? I suppose. But so could Austin, or Seattle, or Irvine, and so on.

    • by TheSpoom (715771)
      I'd bet more on Austin as an up and coming city, personally. Seattle's kind of already there.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @04:06PM (#40834347)

    The weather is much more pleasant in Colorado.

    The only thing is the cost of living is not quite as low as Arizona. But it sure beats California...

    There's a ton of technical stuff going on all across the state, and only Colorado has places to suit ideology anywhere on the spectrum (far left, Boulder. far right, Colorado Springs. Independent? Anywhere).

    Also they have laws to prevent idiots from hanging in the left lane forever preventing you from passing trucks. So unlike California, highways actually work here.

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @04:08PM (#40834401) Homepage Journal
    $2 million in capital raised. So what are they opening, a Burger King?
  • if they didn't absolutely have to. I lived there for 4 years of dental school. It's too hot to move about 8 months of the year, all the plants have thorns, all the insects sting, all the reptiles are poisonous. There's no water. This is a message from the universe telling you that human beings don't belong there.

    Of all the places to be in Az, I never understood why people would have settled in that god-forsaken valley. 100 miles away there are decent climates at higher altitudes.

    Further proof of the st

  • Moving away from Silicon Valley -- Great!

    Moving to Phoenix -- No damned way.

    Can't we pick some place with a lower cost of living than the SF bay area (which shouldn't be hard) *and* isn't hot enough to barbecue small animals?

    I moved *from* Phoenix. I visited there recently. It's still too damned hot.

  • by drgroove (631550) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @04:19PM (#40834537)
    I've lived in Scottsdale for the past 2 years, having previously lived in Chicago and Silicon Valley. The vast majority of developers here are C# developers who would rate between a B- and a D if graded on their development skills. The vast majority of development jobs in Phoenix are also centered around C#; seeing as most web-based startups are using Java or LAMP as their underpinning technology, Phoenix's labor pool and developer job opportunities simply aren't aligned to maintain a robust startup environment. Additionally, development jobs pay anywhere from 30-50% less than other major coder cities. Lower cost of living be damned; if companies are looking to hire C# developers for $70k/year, they're not going to attract top talent. Chicago, San Jose, Austin ... you could spend an afternoon listing all of the cities that are healthier for startups and talented developers. And, all of these issues are just the tip of the spear - we haven't even addressed the political climate in Arizona. Good luck convincing talented developers here on an H1B that Arizona is a safe place to live and work.
  • by Ichijo (607641) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @04:44PM (#40834849) Homepage Journal

    In general, Phoenix is a boring place, and boring doesn't attract talent. For some reason, Phoenicians chose to build themselves a flat, heat-magnifying city of asphalt and concrete in an already hot location, instead of shade trees and tall buildings to help block the sunlight. Consequently, there are few vibrant, walkable areas (downtown Tempe is/was a notable exception), and there's not much to do in the summer except watch TV or go to the theater, the mall, or a water park.

    No, Phoenix isn't a good tech incubator. Phoenix is where you move your company after you've completed the real innovation and you just need cheap labor to keep the business running.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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