21 Reasons to Move to Los Angeles

LATech Digest
Mar 1, 2016 · 9 min read

Winter is coming.

In fact, it may already be here — unicorns are falling from the sky, the IPO market is frozen, and chances are the company you work for has lost value in either the public or private markets.

It’s not the end of the world, but the tech space is in the middle of a slight readjustment period — getting money won’t as easy as it used to be, and startups will be pushed towards profits, rather than burning through cash in order to grow at any cost.

And in case you haven’t noticed, the rent is just too damn high in the Bay Area, both for living and for working.

I love San Francisco, but I left during the original dotcom bubble in order to seek my fortunes in greener pastures.

So I packed my bags and moved down to Los Angeles in 2001, and never looked back.

In the early 2000's, LA was still trying to regain its footing, after dealing with stunted growth due to layoffs in the defense industry the decade prior. Labor strikes in the entertainment industry didn’t help, but we got through that as well.

Los Angeles has always been the birthplace of the internet (f’real!), the birthplace of Google AdSense (true!), as well as home to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories, Hollywood, North America’s largest port system, a vibrant manufacturing hub, and one of the world’s earliest tech incubators, Pasadena-based Idealab.

Downtown LA from atop City Hall

LA in the early 2000's was not known as a tech epicenter, and it has taken the town some time to find its role in the global tech community.

But because of the organic, slow growth over the past decade, LA has been able to build a firm tech foundation across multiple verticals.

And even though LA tech’s torrid growth has leveled off in the past year, the space continues to grow internally, as current companies add more jobs.

CB Insights 2015 LA Venture Capital Report

So yeah — there is a TON of opportunity to thrive in LA, especially if you break out of your Bay Area mindset.

I get it, San Francisco is awesome. Silicon Valley is Mecca, THE place to be if you have a good idea, or want to walk among giants in tech.

Even if your parents have no idea what a Slack or a Stripe is, they know names like Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo.

But guess what? Each of those companies have offices in LA, as do Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, and many other big tech names.

To which you reply, “But the culture! Wine country! My friends! My fellow Burners! My kids’ schools! Tartine! Chez Panisse! Bi-Rite! My beloved Blue Bottle coffee! It’s all up here!”

Yes, yes they are. (Although Blue Bottle has already opened in LA, and Tartine is on track to open an LA location soon, if that helps). However…

There is a world outside of that space between San Francisco and San Jose, and here are 21 reasons why you should move to Los Angeles:

Outside Snapchat’s original offices along the Venice Boardwalk

1)The weather is incredible. LA has over 300 sunny days each year, with an average temperature of 72, which makes life a lot more enjoyable.

But if you prefer to wear a jacket in the summer, the fog does stick around LA’s coastal towns, so much so that we have this thing called June Gloom.

2) Go snowboarding. Or surfing. Or both. The choice is yours. LA offers a ton of opportunities for physical activity, from hiking and biking to skating surfing and skiing, either in-town or nearby. You could literally start your morning surfing Venice or Malibu, and still have time to hit Big Bear by lunch.

3) Entertainment is in our DNA. Want to go out and have some fun? We got it all — concerts, movies, sports, Broadway shows, dance clubs, museums, restaurants, and any other forms of fun can easily be found in LA.

“But wait, I’m a Serious Developer, none of this stuff appeals to me!” you say.

Well okay. How about this:

4) As a founder or employer, you get a lot more for your money. For the amount of money you are paying for a closet and a desk, you can actually find an affordable work space to accommodate you and few developers. And if your company should grow, the savings become greater — not only does LA have plenty of work-ready office space to lease, but because the cost of living is cheaper down here, your staffing costs are significantly less.

Fullscreen’s massive Culver City-based HQ

5) As an employee, you get a lot more for your money. Straight up. You may make less in LA than what you make in San Francisco, but for what you pay for your rent in SF, you can find an abode double that size in LA. With parking. And a pool. And maybe a yard. And still have extra cash in your pocket.

6) Los Angeles has its own VC ecosystem. It has taken some time to grow, but LA has enough homegrown VC firms who have raised sizable funds, ready to deploy behind great teams with great ideas.

But because of its size, LA is still more of an Early Stage Funding type of town, with a lot of local VCs syndicating Seed Rounds, Angel Rounds, and Series A’s.

And if you really need to head up to Sand Hill Road, no worries — a lot of out-of-town VC firms have outposts in LA, or you can always hop on Surf Air if you need to roundtrip for the day.

USC Viterbi’s Hyperloop Team

7) Los Angeles graduates more engineers than anywhere else on the planet (11,000 annually), and is home to 4 of the top engineering schools in the world — Caltech (#1 worldwide), Harvey Mudd, UCLA, and USC Viterbi — so a wealth of young talent to recruit is always just down the street.

8) Competition is high for tech talent, so if you are a quality developer, programmer, project manager, social media manager, etc. — chances are likely you will find a job very quickly.

9) LA looks casual, but we work hard. Don’t be fooled by that laid-back LA demeanor that permeates the media — there are serious companies being built with billions of dollars at stake. Angelenos work hard, but we also know how to have a little bit more fun than other places.

10) People tend to play a little bit nicer down here. A little. Because LA’s tech community is smaller, people tend to know each other, yet have less of a shared history, so you’re less likely to be hit by any sharp elbows or raging egos from superstar developers. No promises, but still.

11) We have an amazing mayor who is incredibly tech-friendly. Mayor Eric Garcetti not only recognizes tech’s ability to create jobs, but actively works with his team to spur more growth in LA’s tech space — not only as an economic engine, but to also improve the quality of life for all, whether it be partnerships with Waze or hosting job fairs for residents of all strata to grow their personal fortunes.

12) LA is #1 in open data. Just a couple years ago, Los Angeles was unranked in Open Data. Now, LA is the model for cities’ open data initiatives, both in order to offer more transparency, as well as to encourage individuals and companies to build businesses on top of data provided by the City.

Mayor Eric Garcetti with Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and a couple hundred future founders

13) LA celebrates diversity. LA welcomes women and minorities, and is home to a ton of female founders. Chalk this up to the Mayor, as well as the tech community at large, which is working to empower everybody, not just bros.

14) LA has its own tech titans. In addition to old school and new school entertainment firms (Disney, Maker, Fullscreen, Universal, etc.), we have built our own Kings of Kong across multiple verticals, including SpaceX, Hyperloop, Snapchat, Honest Co, Oculus, Mattel, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Riot Games, Belkin, and Symantec, just to name a few.

15) LA may be impacted by a macroeconimic slowdown, but not as much as other cities. Because of our diversified business base, as well as a more conservatively-valued startup scene, LA is a little bit more sheltered than other towns that rely on high-fliers to fuel their growth.

16) LA is a big city. And with a big city comes all the amenities you would find in a big city for all walks of life, from college grads and families to seniors and everyone in between.

And because of its size (both geographic and population-wise), LA is a fertile testing ground for many commerce and service startups.

Riding along Abbot Kinney, located in Venice

17) LA is a big city made of smaller neighborhoods. With 114 neighborhoods, representing 4 million residents and 37 nationalities, chances are highly likely that you will find your scene, whether it be Venice, the Arts District, Downtown, Koreatown, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Brentwood, Malibu, and beyond.

18) LA is building a more comprehensive public transportation system. The final leg of LA Metro will open soon, allowing direct train service from the ocean all the way to downtown. Add to this more bike routes and rideshare access to LAX, and LA is building a comprehensive, multi-modal transportation system.

19) LA is on track to host the 2024 Olympics. Oh, I know, I hear it all the time — but the cost! The traffic! Gimmeabreak. We’ve seen this story play out so many times that LA is taking great pains to not make the same mistakes as previous host cities, and is working on ways to use an Olympics bid to spur more development without having to tap into public money.

And with events-spurred development comes more opportunities for you to make money, whether you bid on work projects (digital or physical, infrastucture, security, services, commerce, and more), or build apps and products to appease locals and tourists alike.

(No guarantees that LA secures the bid — 2024's host city won’t be announced until 2017 — but we aim for positive outcomes.)

20) Not everything you see on TV is real. It may look like this town is run by reality TV personalities, but trust me — LA is a great town filled with real people. It’s up to you to build your own tribe — you can avoid the yahoos and find a circle of lifelong friends down here. I swear.

21) You can talk to people about more than just tech. A big appeal to San Francisco is you have found your tribe, folks that talk tech just like you. Those people exist down here as well, and those numbers will continue to grow.

But the crazy thing is, your neighbor might work in entertainment, or at an agency, or something completely unrelated to tech. You’ll find conversations at dinner tables and soccer fields that are about more than just valuations and code.

You will find that, yes, there is a life outside the tech space.

Most importantly, you will find home.

(And yes, all this applies to anyone from anywhere looking to move — I just used San Francisco as the most obvious example because of its proximity and my own experiences in making the move to SoCal.)

Scott Perry runs marketing / consulting firm Sperry Media, and keeps track of LA’s growing tech scene via LA Tech Digest and its associated Twitter feed.

For a deeper dive, view this Slideshare, which illustrates companies across multiple verticals.

For a deeper dive into LA’s vast tech ecosystem, view this Slideshare, which illustrates companies across multiple verticals.

Special thanks to Bryan Landers for extra eyeballs & input.

LATech Digest

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Los Angeles / Silicon Beach tech and entertainment news. Created by @scottperry