The amazing map of the center of the world (digital world)
My recent arrival in San Francisco in the aim to accompanying the launch of MailClark.ai, the startup I run, is a delight of discovery and amazement. San Francisco is a fascinating city, particularly its extremes of noise, energy, splendor, freedom, poverty… But one thing that strucked me over-all is the extraordinary concentration of digital startups in a very small area.
Silicon Valley is aging… relatively
The last time I came to San Francisco was in 2008. It wasn’t the last century but almost: Twitter had less than a million users, the iPhone was a year old and above Pinterest, Whatsapp, Snapchat did not exist.
It was the time of big names being the kings of Silicon Valley: Google, Oracle, Apple, HP, Salesforce. I’ve been impressed at the time by the extraordinary concentration of entrepreneurs, universities and investors that make Silicon Valley a cocktail with ruthless efficiency to launch the boldest startups.
But then at that time we rented a car and toured the valley over 80 km in all directions to see all these people, today I only need my two legs or maybe a bicycle to tour startups that count.
The gentrification of San Francisco
For there has recently been a massive installation of startups at almost the center of San Francisco, and specifically in the South of Market district, sometimes called Soma. Until the years 1940–1950, South of Market was a neighborhood of warehouses and workshops, but with real estate enormous pressure in San Francisco, it has become in recent years the perfect example of the global phenomenon known as gentrification. As this area is very close to the financial district, place where live investors, indispensable for the life of startups, it was a perfect candidate for this evolution.
Parallel to this, it should be noted that the housing pressure in Silicon Valley has become just as heavy as in downtown. Since then, why shouldn’t startups afford going in the center and that way attract essential ingredient for growth: young and urban hipsters who do not want to be stucked in the bottom of the valley at San Jose or Palo Alto.
A new gold rush?
So we see in this area — not bigger than the first arrondissement of Paris — an extraordinary concentration of startups better known than each other. Some are in towers just out of the ground, others in amazingly renovated lofts, but all rival in splendor to treat their attractiveness.
Twitter, Uber, AirBnB, Dropbox, LinkedIn or Slack, the list is impressive. I have deliberately presented on the map below the most known names but there are hundreds. And as with the laws of gravity, attraction generates a concentration that increases the attraction (which is the reason why I’m here), so there’s a good chance that the phenomenon is still amplified in the years who come.
What is certain is that after having been the center of the gold rush a century and a half ago, San Francisco has become more than ever the global convergence center for those who have the ambition — some say hubris — to change the world with the digital.