Marriage Of Media, Entertainment & Tech In The New Hollywood
As business and talent continues to move west, and California boasts the 6th largest economy in world, it was inevitable that business strongholds in New York and London would start shifting to sunnier shores.
Given this is my second time around living in Los Angeles (I am a long time New Yorker, prior Canadian, who has done work stints in London, Paris & Shanghai), I get a lot of question about the growth here and how the City has changed. From many of my NYers, what was once a competitive scoff (all in fun), has become genuine inquisition for those working in creative fields, seeking a lifestyle change, or hearing the constant rumblings of unstoppable prosperity. I admit, I was once skeptical, but what I see here now are abundant possibilities and energy brought about by the crossover of industries (media, entertainment, advertising, communications), so I’m all in, and happy to share what I am witnessing, as the West continues to propel itself to new heights as a different kind of global business leader.
From business to culture, the shift has been seismic, but for the purposes of this article, let’s concentrate on the former. I recently read Linkedin’s Workforce report for Los Angeles, and saw the expected ‘most abundant skills’ list, as well as rising number of fellow NYC transplants. It wasn’t anything I didn’t know, or haven’t witnessed in the past year, as both a New Yorker and someone with said skill sets (media production, broadcasting, social media, etc). Indeed, seeing the rapid influx of businesses move to L.A. and build alliances with one another is something new entirely. At first it is was the tech business trickle down from Silicon Valley to Silicon Beach, then the advertising companies started opening/growing west coast offices in droves to accommodate new business and take advantage of creative talent, and then of course media production divisions, churning out content as quickly as they could for their parent companies back in NY, and finally the army of entrepreneurs finding more space to create and collaborate. This lead to an increased number of New Yorker’s and Europeans transferring here with their companies, and bringing their cultural appetite for arts, restaurants and architecture with them. With so many new residents and businesses, it’s of little wonder that housing and office prices are through the roof.
Per Linkedin report: Los Angeles gained the most workers in the last 12 months from New York City, NY, Chicago, IL, and Boston, MA. So for every 10,000 LinkedIn members in Los Angeles, 7.69 workers moved to the city in the last year from New York City, NY.
It took me a long time to understand (and warm up to) Los Angeles (a common cliché, I realize, just bear with me). Yet here I am, loving the energy, diversity, creativity and even positivity, that permeates the many neighborhoods that make up this enormous, sprawling beast of a City. Things have changed very quickly in L.A. from the first time I moved here just six years ago for a job at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and I suppose working in an unusual hub like Beverly Hills hid the changes that were happening beyond its fancy borders. At first, moving here after living in NYC for over a decade was a bit of the classic struggle everyone talks about, from the pace to the lifestyle shift, but I came to appreciate it, and it was hard to ignore the work stream moving west had changed from a trickle to a river. After another work stint in NY, I launched my own business and it became obvious that the conversations and collaborations were happening in L.A., and there was far more “yes” and openness to ideas that excited me.
Upon returning to California a second time this past Fall, I felt a palpable change in Los Angeles. New buildings, new business, new people, new culture — each neighborhood (I barely recognized my old one) holding claim to their work turf. Playa Vista, Culver City and Venice are the tech strong hold, and spreading. Companies like Amazon Studios, Hulu, Tastemade, Goop and Headspace have planted in Santa Monica. West Hollywood still packs in hotels, restaurants, apartments and one of my favorite new media podcast companies (hello Crooked Media!), DTLA has revitalized with shiny new condo complexes, hot restaurants, galleries and trendy hotels (Ace, Nomad). Burbank still holds the majority of the big studios, while many of the crew, producers, directors, screenwriters, and actors who work for them reside in Studio City, Laurel Canyon, Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Beachwood Canyon. Yet it’s here in Hollywood where I run my business from — an area I purposely avoided before when the grungy streets and tourist traps used to dominate — is truly indicative of the rapid urban development and business change the City is seeing. Here we see the new intersection of media, entertainment, advertising and communications.
Hollywood: While it was once the studio hub in the early days of the movie business, along with local other businesses and theater, the area (infamous Hollywood/Vine) fell into decay for a few decades, even though the area continued to draw hollywood start, art & architecture lovers (think the iconic Capitol Records building, Pantages Theater, Pacific Cinerama Dome, Amoeba Records— even the Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theater are nearby). While I do know people who have had incredible offices here for ages, and weathered the seedy storm, there has been a resurgence to this area that is representative of what is happening in business at large.
Let’s review who has moved into Hollywood, other than the row of new condos being developed, shall we?
Netflix has recently moved into a new building and took up space with the historic Sunset Bronson Studios property, sharing the same strip on Sunset Blvd along with Sunset Gower Studios (Hello, Shondaland), Siren Studios, and not too far from Paramount Studios. Up the street is the trendy NeueHouse, conveniently next to a Sweetgreen (surely a telltale sign of a trendy neighborhood, just like the Shake Shack, Soul Cycle, and Barrys Bootcamp that moved in on Hollywood Blvd), which is always lined full of studio workers at lunch time. On Vine, the new WeWork building emerged, that I moved into, along with big media brands like Buzzfeed and Cheddar. Across the street is the new Tao Group complex, attached to a new Dream Hotel, holding all of their popular NY & Vegas spots: Tao, Avenue, Beauty & Essex. CNN and Viacom are in the neighborhood too. Tucked away on side streets are more new media and production studio companies than you can count (as in I literally lost count, they were popping up too quickly). W Hotel also built here, along with the new Kimpton Everly hotel, and there are rumors of more to come still. Needless to say, something big is happening here, and it happened in rapid succession (under 5 years) which means the next five will bring…I’m not sure exactly. All that I know is that I blinked, and all of the companies I worked for in NY are downsizing there, and opening up here.
What I do find interesting — and I say this as someone who has spent a significant time on the road across the USA working and conducting personal research — is that with so many young people priced out of NY, SF and soon L.A., new markets are emerging, especially as the very nature of work is changing. How and where people work, the growing number of remote and contract workers, companies downsizing and an increasing amount of people turning to entrepreneurship, will continue to reshape our cities and neighborhoods as we know it. Look at places like Portland, Denver, Austin, Nashville, among others, to forge a new path to live-work situations. While many of us in tech, media, and entertainment refer to this period as the wild west (everything is changing so quickly), I for one am very excited to see what the future holds as the crossover between industries continues to push what is possible creatively.
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