Stop Trying to Make Silicon Beach Happen.
Let me explain.
I was at an event in November where I heard someone use a peculiar term to describe the Santa Monica/Venice area in Los Angeles: they called it “Silicon Beach.” Since then I’ve seen it in pitch decks for funds. TechCrunch articles. Even in the L.A. Times where they’ve seen it adopted as a de-facto moniker for the burgeoning tech ecosystem in the coast of L.A.
When I heard “Silicon Beach” for the first time, I laughed, I cringed, and then I took a nice long sip of the cocktail in my right hand to drown the pain of just how terrible of a name that is. Some of the other investors around me did too. Here’s why:
Sure, I’m biased, but I think Los Angeles is the second greatest city in the world. At least of the cities I’ve been to. And I think it discounts both the tech ecosystem and the mixed culture that defines L.A. to try and become a knockoff version of Northern California. Northern California sucks most of the time. Every trip I’m in SF I get pitched on startups in Lyft rides. I can’t go 15 feet without seeing a billboard for Scale AI or for ClickUp. And I can’t get away from anything and everything tech and venture capital.
That’s what’s beautiful about Los Angeles. You see, we don’t need to be #LongLA, and we don’t need to be technology obsessed, #alwayshustling, or posturing about who we are and what we do. L.A. already has culture. Tech is already hot in L.A, right here, right now. And we need to own it. Not as Silicon Beach, but as our own innovation ecosystem, unique to the structure and diversity of the amazing place in which we live.The Silicon Beach moniker represents a lack of creativity and an attempt to adopt an oft-toxic tech and innovation culture that fundamentally contradicts the diversity of thought, acceptingness, and balanced lifestyle that I see as paramount to the greatness of Los Angeles.
It’s more than just Silicon Beach too. The “Silicon ___” naming wave extends far outside the range of just Los Angeles too. I was recently on a call with a New York investor where he said they were trying to make “Silicon Alley” a thing there. They’re serious. Silicon Alley. Not only does that physically hurt me as someone with a degree in English literature (and as a former member of a high school “pun club”), but it’s the same attempt to adopt a culture that should stay where it is.
Where Bay Area folks have Patagonia vests and high rent, New York has dive bars and suits, and L.A., has brunch, running into the Chainsmokers at a startup networking event, taco trucks, and overpriced coffee (that’s actually worth paying for). And there’s no need to bring 23 Blue Bottle locations to L.A. either.
So let the Bay Area have Silicon Valley. We have so many better things yet to come.