London vs. Silicon Valley

The power and noise of London; the optimism and buzz of the Valley.

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I recently returned home to the Bay Area, California. I am not going to claim to be super-connected in Silicon Valley and I am not going to claim to be a tech guru in London. But I wanted to share my musings on my two homes.

What I do know is that after living in London for 7 years, I walk faster than anyone in San Francisco. Time moves faster for me now. For better or for worse.

San Francisco seems sleepy to me. Silicon Valley is a far quieter place than Silicon Roundabout in London's Shoreditch. Silicon Valley itself is a bunch of office parks with strip malls surrounding them. Silicon Roundabout sits in one of the coolest parts of town.

But then, there is the Californian sunshine; there is the optimistic buzz that anything is possible, that anything can be done. People from all over head west to the edge of the USA, to the home of Google, Oracle, and the Internet giants of old. They are on the edge and they are changing the world. And they know it.

In the meantime though, cloudy, grey London explodes with noise and power, built on hundreds of years of being an international hub. Its timezone sits between Asia, Europe and the USA perfectly. Google is building a landscraper at Kings Cross. Tech City is expanding. Shoreditch is bustling.

Going home to San Francisco I saw less explosive change. Less bustle. The new bridge, the fourth tunnel are incremental improvements that were 25 years late. The only thing I saw was an explosion in were house prices and rent

So can Silicon Valley compete with London as the future start-up hub of the world?

Well, Silicon Valley is number 1 and I expect will remain there for some time to come. But I do think London is going to rise to much higher than number 7 on this index.

And does location even matter anyway now that we in tech work anywhere and everywhere? What do you think?

Charles Thiede

CEO & Co-Founder, Zapnito Ltd.

My background is in technology, professional services and digital media. I co-founded Zapnito due to a number of related observations from my time in these sectors: 1) the social web is creating a huge amount of noise 2) expertise that brands have built up over decades is being drowned out and hidden from those that need it 3) these brands are therefore losing their audience to often undeserving and unhelpful sources, and 4) people are finding it harder to access the expertise that they truly value. I therefore decided to create Zapnito, a white-label platform to help trusted brands reclaim their audiences via expert-driven knowledge networks.