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Silicon Beach Startups Spawn From the Ashes of MySpace 44

Posted by timothy
from the yeah-but-the-weather dept.
McGruber writes "The NY Times reports how the alumni of distant also-ran social network Myspace have created an impressive number of spinoff internet companies. These companies have so significantly changed the Los Angeles area's tech scene that the area has been dubbed the 'Silicon Beach.' The article also provides details about the demise of Myspace under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. When YouTube launched in February 2005, many at Myspace wanted to introduce a similar feature. Travis Katz, who had joined Myspace as general manager of international business just after the acquisition, said he remembered telling News Corporation representatives that they would need to hire 40 developers immediately and 200 the next year. 'That was much faster than anything they were accustomed to,' Mr. Katz said. 'They said, "We're going to do a hiring freeze for six months and take a deep breath and determine then what we really need." But we couldn't wait six months. In six months, YouTube went from two million to 80 million users.'"
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Silicon Beach Startups Spawn From the Ashes of MySpace

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 08, 2013 @12:55PM (#44791121)

    Remember when that stood for chip manufacturing? Me neither.

    • by tanujt (1909206)
      What, you didn't know that the cloud is made out of silicon and the social interconnectivity of the quantum network is made optimal by use of organic solar cells and other such buzzwords?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Silicon Beach ... just sounds redundant, unless your beach isn't made of sand...

      • Brighton, UK has had that nickname for over a decade. The M4 corridor has been known as Silicon Fen for even longer. Just sayin'.

        • The M4 corridor has been known as Silicon Fen for even longer. Just sayin'.

          Er, no. Silicon Fen would be the area around Cambridge, East Anglia, which just happens to be full of fens.

      • You've never seen some British beaches, have you?

        When I went away for my last two years of college, the beach behind my building was effectively all rocks.

    • by McGruber (1417641)

      Remember when that stood for chip manufacturing? Me neither.

      I do, but I am ancient enough to also remember when "Silicon Beach" meant implants in bikinis.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Remember when that stood for chip manufacturing? Me neither.

        I do, but I am ancient enough to also remember when "Silicon Beach" meant implants in bikinis.

        Just for the sake of nit picking, it was meant to be and usually referred to as silicone beach.

  • Intangibles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wrackspurt (3028771) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @01:08PM (#44791197)
    Look at all the resources something like Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has and the momentum Myspace had. If you go with the hypothesis the big guys never loose because they have all the resources this flies in the face of that idea. Contingency and intangibles still play a part. Big organizations that can't react fast to changing markets are vulnerable in other ways compared to small, fast to react start ups. It's good to see talent and innovation can still come out on top.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @01:23PM (#44791287)

    This just in: Throwing a ridiculous amount of money into a tiny geographical area may cause the money to remain in that area for longer than the momentary stupidity that brought it there.

    Okay.... In other news, "Silicon beach"... the first thing that crossed my mind after hearing that was, ... you guys DO know where silicon comes from, right? Sand. So you're basically calling it something like Water Lake.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Yeah, that's kinda why it's funny. Or did you think you're the only person who knows what sand is?
    • by Teun (17872)

      -- Dice Holdings, Inc: You suck. Kindof a lot. (Make Tor work again, losers)

      And what makes you think Dice Holdings is immune to NSA orders?

      Or do you want the likes of timothy to get locked up forever?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Or do you want the likes of timothy to get locked up forever?"

        Yes. Please god yes. Timothy should pay for his crimes against humanity...

    • by giorgist (1208992)

      you guys DO know where silicon comes from, right?

      The local titties ?

  • As much as I dislike Murdoch, that is a fairly sizable investment. Their analysis of the market, which was almost entirely unknown came up wanting, or they wanted more time. By then it was too late. Happens in business all the time [see Microsoft and pmps/phones/tablets].

    The road is littered with ideas that fail, and some that succeed. They simply decided not to risk it, I don't see that as news.

  • If he asked for 6 good developers (the key work here is good which people at his level can't tell apart from the janitor) to get it built up as a prototype and prove it as s concept and then hire whatever more is needed (30-50 keyboard monkey), it may have been received a lot better. This Katz guy seems quite out of touch with the development process.

  • by Reliable Windmill (2932227) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @02:36PM (#44791747)
    Don't know about any ashes... MySpace has gotten a very nice facelift recently. It's certainly looking interesting and attractive.
    • Rename it MySpaceBook and we're on our way to replace Facebook. We're tired of hating the same one day after day, we need a new nemesis.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're quite right. It's the prettiest ghost town in all the land.

  • by spitzak (4019) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @03:05PM (#44791951) Homepage

    Silicon Beach is due to media companies such as special effects primarily, not due to MySpace as the summary implies. The Times article also says that MySpace was a "portion" of Silicon Beach, so it is the summary that gets this wrong.

  • Silicon Beach started this whole wave way back in 1984 with some fun Mac products.

    When I first started reading the headline to this I almost got a resurrected Silicone MacWoody!
    Almost.

    Now back to my lawn...

  • I just can't ignore this one. One of the founders of myspace created Demand Media. They bombed hard when Google basically delisted them for complaints about unbelievably bad quality content at ehow.com. I should know, I was a former moderator and top writer for them. Then, guess what else Demand Media owns. Yep, LiveStrong.com in association with Lance Armstrong. That douchebag CEO picks winners like Helen Keller at a horse track. So yeah, not every myspace remnant is some divine startup machine. So
    • by hondo77 (324058)
      And SodaHead [sodahead.com], founded by someone who worked at MySpace when people still used it. They're in Sherman Oaks, last I heard. No, there is no reason for you to have heard of SodaHead.
  • by Epicaxia (2773451) on Monday September 09, 2013 @12:50AM (#44794683)

    As an engineer who lives practically next door to one of the hubs of so-called 'Silicon Beach', let me tell you that there is more publicity than business behind this concept. Don't get me wrong--there are legitimate reasons for considering the Los Angeles area a decent tech hub. A number of my favorite companies (Dreamhost! [dreamhost.com], and others) are located here, typically somewhere between the downtown area and Santa Monica. One of the biggest benefits is the thriving venture capital communities in the downtown and Pasadena areas, which is an understated-but-critical component to any truly substantial claim to 'Silicon [noun]'. (Strong venture capital communities also come with excellent startup support, commonly in some form of incubator [wikipedia.org].) You also get some great synergies between the educational institutions in the area (USC, UCLA, CalTech, Claremont colleges...), ongoing technology business efforts, and the parallel (not-as-mighty-as-it-once-was-but-still-substantial) aerospace community. We're fortunate to have a new (at least moderately) technically literate mayor [latimes.com], who's been pushing this 'Silicon Beach' idea quite a bit.

    But that's the end of the good news. Here's why the TFA totally misses the mark, and (most likely unintentionally) buys into one of the latest political fads here in southern California.

    First, the MySpace influence is strongly overrated. Businesses fail and shrink all the time, and--surprise--when they do, talented engineers will go off and do other things. The article paints a picture that implies that MySpace was this huge supergiant of a tech star, which went nova and whose subsequent remnants collected to spawn a whole new constellation of stars. In reality, MySpace was never really that big of a tech phenomenon or local influence. It's nowhere near as substantial as the unprecedented collapse of the southern California aerospace community [laedc.org] (a PDF--page 11 is most interesting) after the Cold War. If you don't want to click the link, here's a summary: southern California employed 271,700 aerospace jobs in 1990; that number dropped by 57% by 2000, and continues to plummet (88,4000 in 2011). It really makes MySpace look like a drop of piss in a thunderstorm.

    Second, it's easy to underestimate the fact that southern California--even just 'Los Angeles'--is a really, really big place. The Silicon Valley is ~46km long (I'm measuring from San Mateo to downtown San Jose--the width, of course, is mere miles), and Wikipedia puts the population between 3.5 and 4 million. By comparison, Los Angeles county alone is 76km (Santa Clarita to Long Beach) by 74km (Santa Monica to Claremont), with a population of 10 million souls. Why is that relevant? It shouldn't be a surprise that, in a really big area, there are going to be a few winning tech companies. Few people can even agree what 'Silicon Beach' constitutes. Is it supposed to be Playa Vista, with the new Fox technical studios (a la MySpace), Electronic Arts offices, and a few new offices in newly-remodeled air hangers? It is sort of the west side in general, where Google has recently consolidated a new office [google.com] (in Venice Beach), and Activision-Blizzard is headquartered (Santa Monica)? Is it the general downtown vicinity, including North Hollywood and other light industrial areas, where established tech businesses have high-rise offices and new startups are renting out old movie studios for a steal of a rate? Is it the city of Los Angeles in general, with a new tech-friendly mayor, or the county, including tech-friendly Pasadena (CalTech and JPL, plus a lot of venture capital organizations)? Or does it also include Orange County, host of a whole slew of tech-sector ecosystems centered around U.C. Irvine (including the

    • by hondo77 (324058)

      Few people can even agree what 'Silicon Beach' constitutes.

      It's the whole westside, where recruiters keep wanting me to work but I tell them that if I had to commute there on a regular basis, I would become a serial killer by the end of the first week. West L.A./Brentwood to LAX, the 405 to the ocean. They're always hiring over there because so many people don't want to commute to a place that gridlocks by 3pm.

It's a naive, domestic operating system without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

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