For a week, thirteen bloggers from around the world went back and forth between San Francisco and Silicon Valley to find what makes these places so special in terms of innovation.
With start-ups burgeoning on a daily basis and new exciting products flooding the market as a consequence, it’s safe to say that the Orange Blogger Bus Tour members had plenty to talk (and write) about, after the numerous meetings they had with companies and start-ups throughout the Bay Area. Today, Eric Dupin, founder of presse-citron.net, one of the biggest blogs in France, shares his thoughts about his week in California.
How do you feel after this week spent with the Blogger Bus Tour?
From a personal perspective, it’s been an amazing experience, whether it be the relationships with all the bloggers or the feeling of having been privy to some very special moments, as it usually is with this sort of trip. From a professional and ‘journalistic’ point of view, it’s been an eye-opening insight into the way things work on the web in California. Everything seems easier, but this might just be an illusion…
What was your main find of the week?
It wasn’t one person in particular but more the general availability and the laid-back attitude of our hosts which impressed me, including big names such as Dennis Crowley, founder and CEO of Foursquare, or even one of the two co-founders and boss of Flipboard. I was also amazed by the amount of startups per square kilometre in the area, with all the big names we all know, it was pretty impressive.
What came as a surprise for you during your visit in Silicon Valley?
Two things actually: first of all the fact that plenty of startups choose to base their headquarters in downtown San Francisco, in cosy offices but not necessarily in upmarket neighbourhoods, as opposed to following the trend and settling down in San Jose and Palo Alto. It seems that Twitter and Foursquare have got the ball rolling in that respect (they’re almost neighbours). The other thing that surprised me was Flipboard’s offices, concealed in a very basic building in a small street in Palo Alto, and one of the two offices is actually a former car garage! It’s hard to imagine that this very small workplace is the home of one of the most formidable startups in the world of digital!
Which startup/company was the most appealing to you? Why?
I liked SocialCam for it’s very simple (video Instagram) and competitive concept, and the way they have dealt with their growth (they were bought for 60 million dollars just one year after they launched, absolutely crazy). And also GameClosure for their take on HTML5.
We came over to find out where innovation was at today. What’s the verdict?
Obviously this place is a real laboratory for ideas as competition is big and prospects of financial gain are enormous, so everything is there to stimulate creativity. But I’m not sure that innovation is more present here than in other places. The big difference lies in the unlimited means and in the carrying out of ideas. Here, a good idea combined with a talented team almost always results in 3 million dollars raised with venture capitalists. It changes everything and enables companies to move forward quickly with their project. Money here, more than anywhere else, is the sinews of war. But for many, it’s just another tool.